Sunday, February 7, 2016

A question for Labour on abortion law

If anyone from Labour happens to be passing, you might be able to help with a question that's been nagging away at me.  As I understand it, your party believes that the more abortion rights that women have, the better.  Yvette Cooper said the other day that Labour (alone among all major political parties) thinks that the Scottish Parliament can't be trusted to assume control over abortion law because Nicola Sturgeon isn't able to bind her successors.  In other words, Westminster might decide to keep the law in England and Wales as it is, while the Scottish Parliament might eventually restrict access to abortion.  That's possible, but there are of course are at least three other possible outcomes of devolving abortion law -

1) Westminster (which after all has far more social conservatives in it than Holyrood) might restrict access to abortion in England and Wales, while the Scottish Parliament keeps the Abortion Act 1967 unchanged in Scotland.

2) Westminster might keep the law unchanged in England and Wales, while the Scottish Parliament liberalises the law to grant greater abortion rights in Scotland.

3) Both jurisdictions might grant greater abortion rights, with one following the example set by the other.

Two of these three scenarios would lead (from the perspective that Labour claims to take) to improved rights for women in Scotland, while the other would mean that devolution of abortion law had directly prevented women's rights in Scotland from being eroded.  If that came to pass, is it something that Labour would welcome?  Or would they continue to insist on "equality" across Great Britain even when that amounts to an equal lack of rights for women?

If the latter, it seems to me there's a fairly obvious British nationalist agenda at play here, rather than a feminist one.

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There was an interesting exchange on Twitter the other day between RevStu and Jamie Ross of BuzzFeed.  RevStu asked Ross if he was comfortable with the "sneering protective wall" that the media had constructed around J K Rowling's abusive and misogynistic friend "Brian Spanner".  Ross replied that he didn't think there was any protection, merely a "realisation that no one outside Twitter knows or cares about Brian Spanner".  That's something of a circular argument, because there's one reason and one reason only why no-one outside Twitter knows or cares about Brian Spanner, which is that the media haven't told anyone about him.  In fact, they went to extraordinary lengths to edit him out of their extensive coverage of Rowling v McGarry, even though that story made no sense whatever without him.  Contrast that with their eagerness last year to out SNP candidate Neil Hay as "Paco McSheepie" - a Twitter troll account that was far, far less abusive than Brian Spanner, and that, again, nobody would have known or cared about unless journalists had told them.

It's not as if the media aren't in a position to out Spanner.  After my two recent blogposts pointing out the astonishing and totally coincidental links between Spanner and popular journalist Euan McColm, I was struck by the large number of people who came out with a close variation on the following theme : "I have been told by someone I trust that it's not McColm."  To state the bleedin' obvious, it's not possible to know for a fact that Spanner is not McColm (or Deerin, or Daisley, or even Rowling herself) unless you already know the guy's real identity.  That means there are an awful lot of people out there protecting him.  My strong impression is that many of those people are journalists, but even if that isn't the case, it would surely be pretty easy for the media to find out who he is and break the story.  So why don't they?  Was it really in the public interest to out McSheepie, but to protect Spanner?  If so, why?  Or would it be closer to the mark to say that Spanner is a mate of several leading right-wing journalists, and that they're happy to let him act with impunity?

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I was at Murrayfield yesterday for my first ever Scotland-England game, and I fear I must report that triumphalist England supporters murdering what was once a perfectly respectable Christian song aren't any more lovable in the flesh than they are on TV.  You might also be amused to hear that I was sitting next to a kilt-wearing, Scotland-supporting Brit Nat who was incensed that the announcer referred to God Save the Queen as "our visitors' anthem", and got his revenge by belting it out with the England supporters.  He then proceeded to sing Flower of Scotland, but not quite as lustily.  I suppose I've always known that people like that existed, but it was educational to come across one for real.

32 comments:

  1. Yvette Cooper actually argued that abortion should not be devolved because Sturgeon cannot bind her successors? That's her justification?
    Well. There is legally illiterate and then there is LEGALLY ILLITERATE. I can generally understand when English politicians are unaware of the nuances of Scots law (although such ignorance is never justified), but quite honestly, Cooper is, in pursuit of her tribalist point, evincing a complete disregard of English law as well here. An area of English law which, I must add, she really has no excuse to be ignorant of as a Parliamentarian: Parliamentary sovereignty. Let's look at some 1st year LLB learnin' here. A. V. Dicey, that peculiarly English lawyer, noted that Parliament was sovereign since the following truisms held:
    Parliament can make or unmake any law
    Parliament cannot bind its successors
    No body can set aside primary legislation passed by Parliament

    As we can see, point number 2 expressly highlights that the Westminster Parliament cannot bind its successors. So, frankly, what the hell is Cooper talking about? Power over abortion is no safer in Westminster than it is in Holyrood; in fact, the 1967 Act is the one Act of Parliament which, in the course of its life, has been subject to more proposed amendment than any other piece of legislation.

    Add to that the fact that Westminster has already shown that it is not able to legislate competently for Scotland with regard to abortion (since the legislation is so poorly drafted, from a Scottish perspective, that the Act might not even have had any legal effect in Scotland and that the pre-1967 Scottish law of abortion was actually more liberal than the regime purportedly introduced by the 1967 Act) and it becomes quite apparent that Cooper is ignoring law, fact and reality in pursuit of her unstated goal. It's apparent that she's not to protect abortion 'rights' (which don't exist in the UK, since abortion remains a crime throughout that whole political entity), but rather, that she's aiming to prevent the Scottish Parliament from commenting on an area of law which, as a criminal and medical concern, it should, by rights, be competent to legislate on.

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  2. "I have been told by someone I trust that it's not McColm." To state the bleedin' obvious, it's not possible to know for a fact that Spanner is not McColm (or Deerin, or Daisley, or even Rowling herself) unless you already know the guy's real identity.

    Not sure why that's obvious? If someone who knows McColm in real life has been sitting with him (dinner, meetings, whatever) while Spanner is busy chattering away, then it would be quite obvious it's not McColm without knowing the culprit.

    Unless it's a mass conspiracy of Spanners, of course.

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    1. "If someone who knows McColm in real life has been sitting with him (dinner, meetings, whatever) while Spanner is busy chattering away"

      I think that's pushing it a bit - how many people are going to keep track to that extent? In any case, it's largely an academic point, because several public figures have been sending fairly obvious signals that they know who Spanner is and that they find the whole thing hilariously funny.

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    2. Could well be, I assume the people claiming McColm isn't Spanner are McColm's associates in real life, though?
      I haven't followed it too closely, it seemed like Twitter Handbags again. But if it's just random Twitter weirdos claiming to know who Spanner is, your point would certainly stand.

      But I'd say that he could 'prove' to anyone who knows him in real life fairly easily if he wanted to. Presumably his bosses have at least some interest, as the Spanner account seems to be pretty vile in places.

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    3. "A mass conspiracy of Spanners"

      Would that be a bag of Spanners then?

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  3. Yvette Cooper makes a ridiculous argument. Just recently, the justification made for not formally guaranteeing the permanence of the Scottish Parliament in the new Scotland Bill was the inability of a Westminster Parliament to bind its successors. Indeed, talk of repealing the Human Rights Act is a direct consequence of a new parliament exercising parliamentary sovereignty.

    I too was at Murrayfield yesterday. I've never seen such an inept performance from either team. The crowd was more entertaining than the game. I don't know where you were sitting, but the English fans near me were very courteous, applauding FoS and every rare bit of good Scottish play.

    Murrayfield is an amazing place to be during the singing of FoS, although I have often noted there are a fair few confused Scotland fans who dutifully sing along with GSTQ. I did notice though, that FoS is not sung quite so enthusiastically nowadays at the England games as it is against other nations. Which kind of misses the whole point of it.

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    1. I can honestly say the English fans in my immediate vicinity were doing my head in - there was a woman in her 60s constantly waving her St George's Cross right into my face. After the first seventy-nine times, I eventually gave an audible indication of displeasure, and when she carried on doing it after that I began to wonder if it was deliberate. There was also a chap behind me giving an incredibly smug running commentary on the game (come back, Nick Mullins, all is forgiven). I did meet some nicer English supporters outside the stadium, though.

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    2. It's a real shame if your first experience was so off-putting. It's far too expensive to go to Murrayfield if there are no positives to take out of it.

      As for smugness, there was no justification for that. Scotland played terribly badly, but that may have been the worst England team to ever take the field.

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  4. All unionists do is hurt their own cause by not revealing who the Spanner person is. The twitter account itself is irrelevant and people are unlikely to give a shit about it in itself. However, not revealing the author is likely to have an effect as it's the 'one rule for us, another for you' thing. That hacks folk off.

    Anyway, surely someone at the Sunday Herald or National knows who Spanner is. We might therefore ask why neither outlet has reported this...

    As for abortion laws... Labour prefer a right-wing conservative church of England male led and dominated party + unelected upper chamber stuffed with CoE Bishops to decide abortion law in Scotland. Meanwhile, Holyrood is dominated by more left liberal parties with all main parties led by women. Says it all about Labour.

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  5. If it is so important to Labour to have abortion law harmonised across the whole UK when can we expect them to bring Northern Ireland into line?

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    1. Yes, precisely. Even when Northern Ireland was ruled direct from London, successive Labour governments did nothing to bring abortion law into line with Great Britain.

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  6. On the Twitter point, I'm still not clear on how exactly Paco McSheepie was unmasked and why only Unionist journos have the power to unmask or protect anonymous accounts. Surely whatever process they used to unmask Paco could be repeated by anyone for Spanner?

    To an extent it doesn't matter because, by their actions, they are all Spanner. A really sinister anti-Spartacus.

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  7. It's a bit odd that a story revealing one of the richest and most famousest women in the World to be a stinking hypocrite is buried by the entire media.

    Even those members of it who were attacked by said raving hypocrite at the Leveson enquiry and in court case after court case.

    They've never been shy about taking revenge on anybody else so why are they all protecting JK Plagiarist?

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  8. Not so much a 'British nationalist' agenda with Yvette Cooper but a colonialist/racist one. The natives can't be trusted so need England's guidance. That's why the inability of Westminster parliaments to bind their successors is a red herring. The Northern Ireland aspect is also telling. Abortion is essentially illegal in that part of Yvette Cooper's United Kingdom but I'm not aware of her ever trying to give the women of Northern Ireland the same abortion rights as the rest of the UK.

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  9. The answer to your Scotland fan singing GSTQ. Cognitive dissonance. That is holding two contradictory views without acknowledging the contradiction. Common to most Brit Nats.

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  10. Glasgow Working ClassFebruary 7, 2016 at 5:19 PM

    Scottish women are better protected if abortion law stays with Westminster. The religious nutters in Scotland will relish the transfer of power.
    Anyhow whatever happened to the so called lefties that left Labour for the Nat sis?

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    1. "The religious nutters in Scotland will relish the transfer of power."

      Could you please provide even the slightest scrap of evidence that religious nutters hold any greater sway over politicians in Scotland than in the United Kingdom as a whole?

      Yeah, thought not.

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    2. He's talking about e.g Tony Blair and Dave Cameron who get advice from God on wars + all those Church of England Bishops in the House of Lords.

      Also, he believes e.g. Ruth, Kezia and Nicola shouldn't be making such decisions, but Tory English men should; they know better than women when it comes to important decisions as far as GWC is concerned.

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    3. Glasgow Working ClassFebruary 7, 2016 at 6:30 PM

      James young fellah I said they would relish it that is all. And that flower of Scotland is drivel. I had to endure the drunk Jocks singing it constantly when on my first visit to Blackpool circa 1968. God Save the Queen is much preferable. And we Scots have a few National Anthems, the Sash, Soldier Song etc. A nation divided! Actually Scotland the Brave is my favourite especially when the Black Watch are playing it when marching doon fae Embra Castle. You would not approve James, would you!

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    4. Glasgow Working ClassFebruary 7, 2016 at 6:35 PM

      Skier, I totally agree that women should make the important decisions in their lives without interference from the the clergy or indeed anyone else and moreso the clergy who as you may have noticed have covered up abuse for decades.

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    5. Actually, GWC, when we discussed the issue on this blog a while back, we came to a surprising consensus that this is Scotland's natural national anthem (if someone can dream up some lyrics that scan properly) -

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WulAWn_N_O0

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    6. Glasgow Working ClassFebruary 7, 2016 at 6:52 PM

      James, when at school 50s and 60s Scotland the Brave was our National Anthem. My old heedy had us singing it on a regular basis and what a singer she was. Bonnie Gallowa was her best. Sorry for the nostalgia!

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    7. How did you sing along to a tune when there's no proper words? Liar!

      Until very recent times God Save the Queen was played as the Scottish anthem.

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    8. I understand even England is planning to dump God Save the Queen.

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-derbyshire-35296296

      MPs back calls for English national anthem

      Bloody nationalists. :-)

      An official English anthem will of course allow an official Scottish one; FoS being unofficial.

      Anyway, just the slow demise of the UK unfolding.

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    9. Glasgow Working ClassFebruary 7, 2016 at 8:23 PM

      Anon the Knob. There are proper words. Hark.

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    10. Glasgow Working ClassFebruary 7, 2016 at 8:49 PM

      Skier, It will be God Save the King.

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  11. https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/02/07/british-press-most-right-wing-europe/

    British press ‘most right-wing’ in Europe

    #BetterTogether

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    1. Glasgow Working ClassFebruary 7, 2016 at 6:45 PM

      Skier, does that include the National sister paper of the Sun?

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    2. Presumably the small Scottish subsample gave their views too, which would have included the Scottish Sun, national sister paper of the English Sun.

      I doubt the Scottish sample would have had much influence on the overall result given it would be ~8% of respondents.

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  12. I take no interest in Scotland rugby or football matches nowadays. The sight of thousands of Britnats singing a song written by two SNP supporters is just too much hypocrisy for me. They voted for our anthem to remain God Save The Queen and that is what they should sing.

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  13. Provost I agree regarding the song. Don't sing FOS if you believe in English rule. The song is all about independence for Gods sake.

    I still support the teams but I see them as side shows nowadays. For some Britscots the football and rugby are swapped for nationhood. They waive the Saltire for 80mins but would never have one on their car, as that would make folk think they really meant it.

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