Dorries Abortion Bill in Parliamentary Smackdown

By DeusExMacintosh

Dorries Abortion Bill in Parliamentary Smackdown

A Tory MP has said David Cameron apologised for the way he responded to a question she asked about the clout of the Lib Dems in the coalition.

At PM’s Questions on Wednesday, Nadine Dorries urged Mr Cameron to show his deputy Nick Clegg “who’s the boss”. Mr Cameron said he knew she was “very frustrated” but abandoned the rest of his reply amid laughter from MPs.

Ms Dorries claims Mr Cameron dropped his support for her abortion advice campaign after pressure from Mr Clegg.

In the event, Mr Cameron did not attend the debate on Ms Dorries’ amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill, which followed prime minister’s questions, which would have stopped abortion providers giving NHS-funded counselling to women.

It comes amid growing concern among backbench Conservative MPs that the Liberal Democrats are exerting too much influence over coalition policy across a range of issues.

In her question to Mr Cameron, Mrs Dorries said: “The Liberal Democrats make up 8.7% of this Parliament and yet they seem to be influencing our free school policy, health and many issues including immigration and abortion.

“Does the prime minister think it is about time he told the deputy prime minister who is the boss?”

The prime minister, struggling to get his reply out amid laughter from Labour MPs, replied: “I know that the honourable Lady is extremely frustrated about the… perhaps I should start all over again… I am going to give up on this one.”

Ms Dorries told the BBC’s Newsnight that the PM had contacted her personally after prime minister’s questions to apologise for what took place…

Downing Street insisted that the prime minister had not intended any innuendo in his reply to Ms Dorries – despite what was read into it by guffawing Labour MPs – and he was referring to her frustration with the coalition government.

BBC News


  1. Posted September 8, 2011 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

    Ah, PMQs in the Commons: where sexual innuendo comes as standard…

  2. Posted September 8, 2011 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

    The BBC piece has her accepting the apology but most of the papers have her stomping out of the Commons in a huff. The Grauniad has a lot of did he/didn’t he do it deliberately speculation but it’s difficult to tell. It doesn’t look good on the video (he pauses a bit too long) but then the mics might not be picking up some of the opposition heckling he was close enough to hear.

  3. Posted September 10, 2011 at 2:30 am | Permalink

    The pause does look awfully like it was used to achieve comedic effect, doesn’t it?

  4. Posted September 10, 2011 at 3:03 am | Permalink

    As I say, there could be stuff going on that we can’t hear – to be fair.

  5. BCS
    Posted September 10, 2011 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    Like all conservative leaders Cameron is useless. He talks the talk but is too scared to walk the walk. Just look at his performance over the recent riots. Before the election we heard never-ending references to fixing ‘broken Britain’. The riots gave Cameron the perfect excuse to push for reform of education, immigration, welfare, justice and policing, but what did he do? He stood impotently at the sidelines doing nothing while ‘talking tough’ in the media with such absurdities as ‘advising’ magistrates to ‘disregard normal sentencing’. And now that events have moved on he is quietly getting on with the business of doing nothing while he waits for the riots to fade from the collective consciousness.

    Our own John Howard wasted 11 years using immigration to keep the real estate boom going, just so he could stay in office. Sure, I will give him some credit for half-hearted and half-baked attempts to reform some welfare issues, such as the sole parent pension, and, after much prompting, attempting to abolish the appropriation of students’ money for political purposes, but all of these failed. Don’t believe me? Name one, just one, social reform of Howard’s that rolled back the social harm done by past Labor and Liberal governments and that endured beyond his prime ministership.

  6. Posted September 11, 2011 at 3:10 am | Permalink

    And in other news, DEM hosts an abortion thread and no-one comes…

  7. kvd
    Posted September 11, 2011 at 4:20 am | Permalink

    [email protected] it depends how you frame ‘social reform’ (but then I’ve never read two definitions the same) but how about GST, gun control, baby bonus, and umm.. school flagpoles 😉

    SL, if no-one comes you don’t need an abortion debate. sine qua non, and all that.

  8. BCS
    Posted September 11, 2011 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    GST? A new tax is a reform!!! No, a reduction in tax is a reform, especially if you call yourself a conservative. The state taxes the GST was supposed to replace are still in place. If you believe the GST rationalised the tax system, look at a graph of federal and state taxes and spending during the howard era. If only my income graph was that steep.

    Someone, I think it was Richard Nixon, said you should never go to an election without a key policy item, even if it is an unpopular one. The GST was that policy item; it was just a nasty little trick. And, remember, it was the election in which both sides of politics wanted immigration off the agenda. The states were happy because they had a gigantic bag of cash to play with. The Howard government was happy because it released federal funds to buy off the electorate and keep the bubbly flowing for just one more electoral term.

    Gun control! Yes, our streets are so much safer now, aren’t they? Gun control was just a grubby populist move. Pick an unpopular minority and put the boot in. Works every time. I knew a person who had a senior position in the program. The person was full of all the usual tired old cliches about guns and penises. The person went on and on about how difficult it was to get the measure through. I asked how difficult it could have been when the media and both political parties were against gun ownership. No answer was forthcoming. So, Howard’s reform was not to deal with the social issues that have fractured our society – education, parenting, youth, justice, policing and immigration; instead he did the populist thing and took guns out of the hands of non-criminals. There was a recent parallel in the ACT: the territory govt recently banned fireworks. Why? Because they were being used by society’s lowest elements as a means of causing harm and annoyance to the community. The fireworks have gone but the same people are causing the same harm, only now they are doing it in different ways. But, then, that was the government’s aim in banning fireworks: make the problem less visible so you can manage the problem and not let it harm your re-election prospects.

    The baby bonus? I’m sure you saw the recent report on the mental issues amongst children of single parents. I hope you also noted that government was reluctant to release the figures. Just as they will not release figures on domestic violence. But these things only confirm what we all know. The baby bonus, which was a handout to buy another term in office, acted as an inducement for the wrong people to have more children. If government really wanted to help families and raise the birth rate they would make life more child-friendly by funding extended school hours as a replacement for child care and by having school-run summer camps, like in the US, to give parents a holiday from their children. But there is a sinister aspect to it, as well. Back in the early 90s the entire dole payment and family payment went to one person, usually the male. All too often all the money was being drunk away long before the next payment was due. So, government decided to pay the family payment and part of the dole to the partner. Certainly a noble idea, but what the stats don’t show is how violence and intimidation was used to get hold of the other half of the payment.

  9. kvd
    Posted September 11, 2011 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    Steady on BCS. You asked for reforms; I nominated some – without any hint of my agreement or otherwise. Anyways, should I take it you are in favour of flagpoles?

  10. Posted September 11, 2011 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    [email protected] Actually, the GST took a lot of the heat out of Commonwealth/State relations and helped put our public finances in a much better position than most of the rest of the developed world: sounds like a reform to me.

    We cannot just use the word for things we agree with. (I am reminded of a writer who found the editor at his publisher’s wanted to stop him using the word ‘reform’ for the Kennett Government changes: right-of-centre governments did not do “reform” apparently.)

  11. kvd
    Posted September 11, 2011 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    Yes, Lorenzo is correct re GST, only I’d go further and say it has been a most significant reform, and that my only criticism is the exclusion of certain items. On gun control I’ve always considered it an unwarranted and ineffective intrusion. The baby bonus was enacted to address a declining birth rate, but probably would have been better implemented by means of either food, health, daycare, or education vouchers of some sort.

    And flagpoles? Every PM is entitled to a bit of whimsy – no?

  12. Posted September 11, 2011 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    To increase the birthrate among the middle-classes, one needs to go French: income splitting in the early years and very inexpensive childcare thereafter. It involves giving certain things up (outside the professions, France now has the biggest gender pay gap in the EU, down from a position where the sexes were close to parity), and being willing to pay now for the people who will fund the country’s future pension pot (going French is not cheap).

  13. Posted September 11, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    Dare I ask… what’s the significance of flagpoles?!

  14. kvd
    Posted September 11, 2011 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    DEM flagpoles are (or were) very significant. At one point they represented the LNP ‘vision’ for Australia’s future: pointless, yet upright, but basically insignificant – unless you wanted Federal funding for kids’ education.

    Sorry if this is confused. I’m still getting my head around ‘reform’ meaning lower taxes, and French solutions to procreation. Does SL mean some sort of double dipping?

  15. BCS
    Posted September 11, 2011 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

    [email protected] A ‘reform’ is something that makes our society better. The GST, gun control and baby handouts have not made our society better.

    I ask again: name one thing that Howard did that made our society better and endured beyond his prime ministership?

    Re the GST and public debt. Yes, the more tax you collect the less public debt you have. Any government can tax and spend. It hardly amounts to good government. Also, the GST is not the reason for our low public debt. For that we can thank the fact that we dig up dirt and sell it. While other governments spent up big and saw their revenues decline, our own big spenders could rely on the taxes they collect from the mining industry and its workers.

  16. Posted September 11, 2011 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

    Income splitting involves treating one high income as two for tax purposes, meaning that, say, a $50,000 income is treated as two $25,000 incomes. In France, over 90% of the people who leave the workforce but are paid the ‘income split’ are women; similarly, there are cash bonuses on the third child (but not for the sixth, interestingly) copied directly from Roman models (Augustus introduced a similar system in the first century AD). They are referred to as famille nombreuse.

    It is particularly effective when, for political reasons, one wishes to maintain some form of progressive taxation; it does, however, enhance the gender division of labour, meaning that women who don’t have strong incentives to stay in the workforce tend to leave it.

  17. Posted September 12, 2011 at 6:08 am | Permalink

    I ask again: name one thing that Howard did that made our society better and endured beyond his prime ministership?

    Umm.., the flagpoles?

  18. Posted September 13, 2011 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    [email protected] The Howard government also kept spending under control — check the various levels of public spending as % GDP. Our good public debt position is the result of careful finances (and Keating’s super changes).

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