HFE Bill postponed 'to avoid offending Catholics’?
There was due to be a debate and vote on the remaining stages of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, and Mrs Kelly had been given permission by the Prime Minister to attend to very urgent business in Brussels. But Harriet Harman has now rescheduled the Second Reading of the Employment Bill, and kicked the HFE Bill into the long grass – the autumn.
Ms Harman said: ‘It remains a flagship bill, but in the last full week before the House rises, difficult decisions have to be taken.’
Indeed, and the Shadow Leader of the House, Theresa May, has conjectured that the delay may have something to do with the manifest inconvenience of debating abortion, saviour siblings, animal/human hybrids and other contentious ethical matters during the run-up to the Glasgow East by-election, where there is a sizeable Roman Catholic community.
Although Cranmer thinks Mrs May may have a point, he also thinks she is partially wrong and guilty of a little prejudice.
Roman Catholics no longer vote Labour because they are Roman Catholic; they vote Labour because they do not believe the Conservative Party represents their concerns. Those Roman Catholics who voted Labour in Glasgow at the last general election did so more because of Labour’s perceived privileging of the poor (ie because they live in Glasgow East). But Labour has not only ceased being concerned with their economic isolation; it has spent recent years subsuming their moral concerns to minority pressure groups, and legislating against the plethora of ‘pro-life’ issues that the majority of Roman Catholics hold dear. As Cranmer has said, all Christians should think thrice before voting Labour.
Since Roman Catholics are busy accommodating those who are presently defecting from the Church of England, in a perfectly reasonable quid pro quo, Cranmer urges the Roman Catholics of Glasgow East to defect to the Conservative Party. It is no longer the political wing of the Church of England, so there is nothing to fear, and those who dare to cross will not be asked to remain celibate or to believe that David Cameron is infallible.
And Cranmer is looking forward enormously to seeing what urgent and unavoidable business arises for Mrs Kelly in the autumn.