I am so glad that Nadine Dorries' amendments on abortion counselling failed so spectacularly yesterday, with even the co-sponsor Frank Field distancing himself from them.
The Burd came up with a cracking, if chilling phrase to describe Dorries' proposal:
it insults women and represents potentially the worst attack on their legal capacity since the 19th Century when married women were not allowed to own their own propertyI am very pleased to say that no Scottish Liberal Democrat MP voted with Dorries and 9 out of the 11, including Mike Moore and Danny Alexander, voted against. Charles Kennedy and Bob Smith didn't vote.
Now that the threat has passed, if you are in the mood for some comedy, you might want to read the account of the debate. Nadine, fresh from reminding the world how influential the Liberal Democrats are in Government (oh, go on then, if you insist I'll put the video up.....)
Now, where was I. Ah yes, Nadine and her increasingly farcical speech. I think my favourite bit was when she had a go at Evan Harris, accusing him of blackmailing the Prime Minister. Pure, dead brilliant!
Last weekend, the former MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, Evan Harris, who has spent most of the day in the office of the hon. Member for Cambridge (Dr Huppert)—he is still here, tabling his amendments—turned up on the airwaves expounding the theory that there is no evidence of a problem, that the amendment is unnecessary as nothing needs to be fixed, that the status quo should remain and that the abortion industry should be allowed to continue under the veil of secrecy that it has.
I received a message informing me that the former Member for Oxford West and Abingdon had approached the Deputy Prime Minister’s office and exerted pressure. In fact, he tweeted exactly that, saying that he had applied pressure on the Deputy Prime Minister, who had now forced the Prime Minister to make a climbdown. Basically, a Liberal Democrat—in fact, a former MP who lost his seat in this place—is blackmailing our Prime Minister and our Government. Our Prime Minister is being put in an impossible position regarding this amendment. Our health Bill has been held to ransom by a former Liberal Democrat MP, who has focused on this amendment.
I'm annoyed that speaker John Bercow didn't slap her down more when Martin Horwood made a point of order. All he said was:
My understanding at present is that there has been no breach of order. However, I would say to the hon. Member for Mid Bedfordshire (Nadine Dorries) and to the House that temperate language, moderation and good humour are the essential features referred to in “Erskine May”, and it is best if they inform our debates.As an additional treat, here's Evan taking a coach and horses through Nadine's arguments on Sky News last week.