Tag Archives: Michael Caine

Abortion debate: Some Tories just can’t keep their mouths shut

In the 1966 movie Alfie, the main character (Michael Caine) impregnates another man’s wife (played by Vivien Merchant) and has to take her to a backstreet abortionist. Do Maria Miller, Jeremy Hunt and now Theresa May want a return to this extremely dangerous practice?

This won’t be a popular post. It seems you don’t want to read about abortion from the figures on my ‘Killer’ Miller piece.

But I don’t write this blog because I want to be popular; I say some things because they are to be said, and this is one of those pieces. Cutting the time limit on abortions will continue to be ignorant lunacy, no matter how many Cabinet ministers support it.

From that, you can guess my opinion of the Cabinet ministers involved, who are Maria Miller, Jeremy Hunt, and now Theresa May.

The Home Secretary said she thought there was scope for a 20-week limit (the current limit is 24 weeks, remember). The Health Secretary had already gone further, saying he supported halving the limit to just 12 weeks.

This is a man who admits that doctors have operated on his head. Presumably they removed all his intelligence.

Thank goodness they were only expressing personal views, no matter what may be said by those who support the suggestion – oh, what am I saying? The Conservatives are desperate for a popular policy. They’re probably writing it into their Conference speeches right now.

I am glad to see that my own concerns about this were absolutely correct. In a comment on Today, Professor Wendy Savage, a gynaecologist and campaigner on women’s rights, pointed out: “The number of abortions that take place over 20 weeks is very small. Of those a considerable proportion are of foetuses which have got a congenital abnormality.

“I think the majority of the population think that if somebody has got a foetus that, if born, will have a severe disability, they should have the right to choose whether or not to continue with that pregnancy.”

If you’re still undecided on the issue (all 12 or 13 of you who are reading this), try reading Laurie Pennie’s ’24 Reasons for 24 Weeks’, a blog she wrote back in 2008, before the Tory MP Nadine Dorries (remember her?) was defeated in her own attempt to cut the time limit.

Of particular interest should be number 3: “Research shows that lowering the time limit does nothing to lower the number of abortions taking place.” But if they can’t get a legal abortion, where do they go?

Back to the backstreets, everyone?

Should movie stars keep their politics to themselves?

Celebrity endorsement is always a bit “hit and miss”, isn’t it?

How many times have you seen a big name pimping themselves out in a sponsorship deal that has left you cringing with embarrassment for them? How many times have the deals gone sour because of events in the celeb’s personal life (think of Tiger Woods, or Kate Moss, for example).

The unpredictability of the endorsement effect is magnified in politics. Will you still respect a celeb if they are exhorting you to vote for a party you despise? What if it’s a person you don’t like, asking you to support your own choice? What if it’s someone you do actually rate, but they’re soliciting your vote in an unpalatable, tasteless way?

I remember my 13-year-old self turning his nose up at the late Kenny Everett when, supporting the Thatcher government in 1983, he said “We’re going to kick Michael Foot’s walking stick away!” (Mr Foot, also now deceased, was the leader of the Labour Party at the time).

On the other hand, when Sir Michael Caine supported the Conservatives in 2010, it didn’t bother me at all. I’m a fan of this prolific actor and will continue to enjoy his work, despite his unfortunate choice of allegiance. But then, I was never persuaded by Sir Michael to vote for the worst government in living memory. I wonder how many moviegoers were.

All of the above brings me to the announcement by Clint Eastwood that he is backing Mitt Romney’s US presidential election campaign.

Mr Romney’s plans involve tax cuts for the very rich, but he won’t offset their effect by closing other tax loopholes or creating other revenue streams. He’ll use the increased debt this creates as an excuse to strip social security and medicare down to nothing.

Put yourself in Mr Eastwood’s position. He’s a very rich man, and would probably benefit from Romney’s planned tax cuts. He has served as Republican mayor of the town of Carmel, in California. Also, he’s on record as saying that Barack Obama is a “greenhorn”, without the necessary experience to run the US government.

That’s fine for him. Now ask yourself: What effect will his endorsement of Romney have on an Eastwood fan of meagre means, whose life is enhanced by social security and medicare and who would suffer if these were dismantled?

They’d probably vote for Romney because their idol told them to do it – and then, if he gets in, repent at leisure.