Monday, July 28, 2008

Abortion a swing factor in Scottish Labour loss?

( - Abortion was a key factor in the defeat of a Labour Party candidate in a by-election in Glasgow, Scotland, on July 24, according to local pro-life leaders.
The Glasgow East seat in Parliament, regarded as a safe seat for the Labour Party, was captured by John Mason of the Scottish National Party in a close vote. The Alive and Kicking Alliance, which had backed the pro-life candidate, claimed that abortion was a crucial ingredient in his electoral success.
Earlier this month, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced that he would postpone a final parliamentary vote on the controversial Human Fertilisation and Embryology bill until September-- safely after the by-election in Glasgow. Political analysts said that Brown had rescheduled the debate in order to avoid antagonizing voters in Glasgow East, a heavily Catholic constituency. Led by Edinburgh's Cardinal Keith O'Brien, Church leaders in Scotland have been outspoken in their opposition to the legislation, which would expand embryonic research and allow more late-term abortions.


Anonymous said...

Point well made Father.
This was indeed a major factor but has been downplayed by the media. All of the focus has been on the deprivation of the area, rather than it's Catholic majority. And no-one has linked the one factor with the other. Either the Catholics are lazy and unemployable or they are evidence of the ingrained anti-Catholicism in the West of Scotland which has had this baleful impact on today's Glaswegian Catholics.


Physiocrat said...

It would be nice to think that people were so concerned but where is the evidence? It would be necessary to conduct a survey to find out. Otherwise comment is speculative. My own speculation is that the main reasons are Labour's terrible economic performance and nationalist sentiment.

JARay said...

I hope that this claim is indeed true.

Red Maria said...

Henry, who often makes worthwhile contributions here, asks a pertinent question; namely what evidence is there to back up the claim that the voters of Glasgow East rejected the Labour candidate because of the party leadership's attitude to abortion?

He's also right to speculate that one of the main reasons for the massive swing against Labour are economic woes, though I doubt that nationalist sentiment played much of a part in it.

One of the great insights of Marxism is that social being makes social consciousness not the other way around. In other words economic conditions are more important in determining behaviour than ideology. In terms of Glasgow East, over a decade of Nu Labour has simply failed to deliver any meaningful benefits to the people. Add the fact that the party has lost its working class moorings and the key ingredients for losing the seat are already there.

However, that being said, I think there is some intriguing anedoctal evidence which points to a Catholic factor - among many others, mind you - at play in Glasgow East.

Former MP David Marshall said he'd had sack loads of letters from disgruntled constituents about the HFE Bill.

Last Thursday night's BBC election coverage also yielded some interesting comments from Michael Crick. He said he'd met a few voters who'd told him that they weren't voting Labour again specifically because of the HFE Bill and abortion. Bear in mind that Crick's sample would probably have been pretty random and very small and it becomes more rather than less likely that a number of voters were swayed by the issue.

Remember also that The Universe - traditionally the organ of the Labour voting working class Catholic - had run extremely critical front page lead stories about the Labour government and the HFE Bill ("This government no longer deserves our support") about anti-Catholicism in the Labour Party, and the Mary Honeyball incident for four whole weeks, ahead of the election. Four weeks worth of negative coverage on the front page. Four weeks worth of a drip drip effect on Mass going pensioners, who remember are more likely to vote than the young. That's the kind of negative coverage the SNP wouldn't be able to pay for but would be lethally effective before a critical by-election.

One other point bears consideration. As a Labour Party member myself and one who has spoken to her fellow left footer party comrades, I can safely say that discontent among Labour Catholics is running very high indeed. From grassroots activists right up to the parliamentary level, Labour Catholics are seething with anger.

Mary Honeyball's blatant call for Roman Catholics to be discriminated against in public life was the proverbial straw which broke the camel's back. Hence Conor McGinn's resignation as vice chair of Young Labour. Anti-Catholicism in the Labour Party has not gone unnoticed by Catholic and for that matter non Catholic Labourites. There is no reason to suppose that it will have gone unnoticed in Glasgow East either. I've said it before but it bears repetition: anti-Catholicism is not a vote winner for the Labour Party.

Incidentally Mary Honeyball's bigoted anti-Catholic comments (and she's still at it by the way) sparked a storm of condemnation from Catholic and non Catholic Labour parliamentarians and activists alike, among them MPs Stephen Pound and Peter Kilfoyle and her personal attack on Conor McGinn also drew criticism from Jeremy Corbyn. Honourable mention must go to the magnificent David Taylor MP, a non Catholic and member of the leftwing Campaign Group of Labour MPs, who wrote to The Universe repudiating Honeyball's bigoted comments and pointing out that she did not represent the party. If the party leadership had any nous it would have stood a candidate like David Taylor, conscientious, strongly socialist, sympathetic to Catholic concerns and anti-bigotry in Glasgow East and held onto the seat.

And another Labour MP said to have privately expressed disgust with Honeyball's divisive anti-Catholicism ... man of the moment, David Miliband.

Physiocrat said...

Red Maria, it would be very interesting to know where the growing tide of anti-Catholic vituperation is coming from.

I have my suspicions regarding their very origins which would date them back to the Enlightenment and the events preceding it, but I would not publicise them. I am not suggesting anything like a conspiracy but it seems as if their general effect on people's attitudes has spilled over into common currency more than I can remember.

nickbris said...

To me it just looks like Cameron has complete control of the media and and the people of Glasgow are gullible enough to believe all the anti Labour Party nonsense.

At least they had the sense to vote SNP.

In a General Election it will go back to Labour.

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