Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Gordon Brown ‘caves in to Catholics’

At least that is precisely how boldly the 6 o’clock news stated the case, while the BBC website leads with the more measured ‘Brown compromise over embryo vote’. In fact, the Prime Minister has done no such thing: the Whip has not disappeared, but has merely been stayed. The deal is that no Labour MP will be obliged to vote against their conscience in the first round of voting on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill in three areas:

• Preventing fertility clinics from refusing treatment to single women and lesbians - under current legislation clinics must take account of the welfare of the unborn child including "the need for a father". This will be replaced by the "need for supportive parenting".
• Creating a child with the correct tissue match to save a sick brother or sister.
• Creating so-called hybrid animal/human embryos to aid stem cell research.

But when it is apparent (as it shall be) that it is the majority view of the House of Commons that all of the above are to be permitted, Labour’s three-line Whip shall return, and all members shall be obliged to vote in favour of all of its provisions. This deal is reportedly acceptable to Labour’s Roman Catholic rebels.

But Cranmer is bemused that this is deemed by then to represent any kind of deal at all.

It is widely reported that the Church’s belief is that the price for supporting this Bill is too high: any procedure which involves selecting embryos and destroying those which are unwanted or which have been used for research - for whatever end - is an affront to human life and dignity. That remains so, yesterday, today and forever.

So what kind of acceptable compromise is it that permits Labour’s Roman Catholic members to vote against the Bill on Tuesday but be obliged to support on Wednesday? If God opposes chimeras and fatherless children one day, he is hardly going to be displeased if, on Judgement Day, the Christians who voted in favour of the Bill yesterday adduce a neat defence tomorrow of ‘it was another day’.

How can obedience to God be so variable? A conscience vote does not change from day to day, depending on the vicissitudes of democracy. As Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor has stated: ‘Catholics in politics have got to act according to their Catholic convictions’.

He did not say that this only applied on Tuesdays and Fridays, and the rest of the week is a moral free-for-all. Their yes should be yes and their no should be no. It is not a very firm belief or opinion that constitutes a ‘conviction’ one day and may be dispensed with the next simply because the votes aren’t going your way. Indeed, that is very antithesis of conviction, and contributes to the perception that MPs are shallow hypocrites, spineless dissemblers and manipulative liars.

But there are some who are prepared to hurl such insults straight back.

While it is no surprise to see that Lord Winston accuses the Roman Catholic Church of ‘lying’ over the Bill, it is somewhat surprising to read that David Cameron has accused Roman Catholics of misrepresenting its provisions, and cautioning them to moderate their criticisms of it.

But then he has nothing to fear from troublesome priests.



Blogger mongoose said...

Good grief, I agree completely, Your Grace. For the first - and probably the last - time, I expect. It is precisely this wriggling and conniving that is killing what little respect I had left for politicians. The prospect of the appalling Ruth Kelly meekly trooping through to vote for something which is quite plainly in conflict with her long-held convictions is too ghastly to contemplate. Perhaps she will pull a sickie.

26 March 2008 at 09:41  
Blogger ultramontane grumpy old catholic said...

Gordon Brown has seemingly decided that the best policy is 'reculer pour mieux sauter' and your Grace has hit the nail on the head. There is a further battle to go. As your Grace points out, what's the use of a free vote now if the whip is imposed later.

To grant a free vote as long as the government gets its way in the end is a bit like Barry Sheerman MP saying that faith schools are OK as long as they are not serious about it

However, with a free vote on this round it will be possible to gauge the true views of certain MPs. With the possibility that there will be a majority in the house anyway for the bill, any MP who abstains can be regarded as one who votes for the bill.

What intrigues me about all this is that the advocates for chimeric experimentation always use the conditional 'could' for all their arguments. 'It could lead to this cure or that cure ...blah blah blah' Have there been any wonderful cures in veterinary care arising from experimentation on animal embryos or animal chimeras? If there have, we havent been told about it. So the motto for this bill could be "Let's create a chimera to pursue a mirage"

I read the debate in the Lords - it wasn't very edifying. The pros all deferred to whatever Lord Winston said. Such is his stature that if he advocated the sterilisation of the unfit, they would fall into line. The only person who had anything interesting to say was Lord Tebbit.

26 March 2008 at 10:22  
Anonymous Peter O said...

You are absolutely right Your Grace. Imagine if Wilberforce had practised such a contemptible understanding of freedom of conscience.

26 March 2008 at 12:47  
OpenID curly15 said...

Your Grace is of course perfectly correct. The three main Cabinet members involved, and other sundry backbenchers have only two respectable options available (a)renounce the Roman Catholic church or (b) renounce the government.

There are no grey areas.
(Which reminds me, how about that spring clean?):)

26 March 2008 at 12:59  
Anonymous Gustav said...

I imagine they will vote against the three amendments, and then abstain from the final bill - assuming it emerges unaltered, which seems likely.

It would be ludicrous to have made such a fuss to be allowed to vote against on principle, only to then turn around and vote in favour of the whole bill if (once) the amendments have passed. While Kelly has already shown the strength of her ¨convictions¨ (adoption-gate), I would be very surprised to see Murphy embracing such an absurd position.

26 March 2008 at 15:50  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Perhaps Lord Winston should be more circumspect about Catholic Theology and more sensitive to Christianity, itself a branch of his own religion and drawing upon its codex of moral values.

One day we shall award "The Mengele Prize for Medical Research" for the kind of pioneering work he carried out on behalf of The Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics in Berlin where his former professor Othmar von Verschuer was Director of the Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics in Dahlem, Berlin.

I find it strange that we permit politicians beholden to parties and commercial lubrication to decide such far-reaching matters affecting our very DNA-coding....

26 March 2008 at 16:17  
Anonymous The recusant said...

Professed Catholic MPs, know what is expected, if they deliver they may sacrifice their political career in the short term but set an example that will be to their credit long past their days at Westminster and I dare say gain the respect and admiration of all fellow Christians to boot. If they choose political expediency then the devil take them for if salt loses its flavour, what good is it? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men Mt 5:13

26 March 2008 at 18:24  
Anonymous hear o israel said...

your grace
it appears to be a bill full of requirements for urgent actions on unfounded science , i would think that you dont have to be religous to vote aginst it. and there in lies not just catholic concience but also that of common sense.

this sort of bill being whipped shows all to clearly that the robert winstons of this world deem everyone else idiots , unfortunate from of nu labours friends of israel who has in a fit of rage manged to blow his deep thinking credentials for an interest !!.

26 March 2008 at 19:06  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well Gordon Brown has form in this sort of thing does he not?

Now it's a constitution and we will have a referendum, now it contains all the same things but it not a constitution, so we won't.

Perhaps he thinks we don't notice.

26 March 2008 at 20:26  
Blogger Snuffleupagus said...

I am so pleased to see you. I have been wondering about you. I am glad to see that you are well. I am sure His Grace will be as delighted as I am to see you out and about again. My very best wishes to you.

27 March 2008 at 00:23  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 20:26

"perhaps he thinks we don't notice."

Brown certainly has good reason to believe we would have not noticed.

Lets face it if we were not for the internet and we were relying only on the MSM. We would have been had completely over already. Brown belongs to the sixties generation where propaganda and the absolute perceived power of advertising was the cornerstone of all truly evil socialists thinking.

All they believed was if you had control of the MSM you could do just about anything if not worse then that.

They studied the power of free market advertising and Soviet Communist and German Fascist style propaganda until their little evil brains got tied.

If it were not for the internet Gordon would have killed off Blair before his first term was up. Had his beloved two private presidential jet planes sitting on the end of his Buckingham Palace runway, and had a statue of himself erected in every British town and village, years ago by now.

Atlas shrugged

27 March 2008 at 23:36  

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