Down's and out
Posted Tuesday, 27 October 2009 at 10:03
Daily Telegraph carries a story reporting the results of a study carried out by Joan Morris, professor of medical statistics, at Queen Mary’s Hospital.
Not so long ago there was an assumption that advanced medical screening and access to abortion could all but eliminate the birth of the Down’s baby, as though this genetic cleansing was a good thing. The assumption also being, who would want a Down’s child?
It is a fact that because women are waiting until their 30’s and 40’s to become pregnant that the number of pregnancies being diagnosed as Down’s is increasing.
Professor Morris is quoted in this morning’s article as saying:
"We are getting more pregnancies with Down's syndrome because women are having their babies older and because we are screening more accurately and screening more women, there are more terminations”.
Women who have been screened for Down’s will happily tell you that, when the screening takes place, the assumption is very much weighted towards the reason being ‘pre-abortion ’screen, as opposed to 'pre-counseling'.
Everyone must respect the feelings and wishes of any parent who may find themselves in the position of hearing a Down’s diagnosis. However, we must also question the process and why a positive attitude to the diagnosis does not take equal precedence to a negative approach? Why is the assumption that a parent will automatically abort not tempered with the fact that if a parent encounters the diagnosis in a positive way, with compassionate non judgmental information about rearing a Down’s child, they may be able to move their thought process from “we can’t do this” to “lets think, can we?”
Does the new life, which by the time the diagnosis is made may be very well developed, not deserve at least this?
Frank Buckley, Chief Executive of Down’s Syndrome Education International said: "People with Down’s syndrome are living longer and achieving more than ever before and it is reassuring to know that they will be continuing to make valued contributions to our communities for years to come.
"These figures should be a wake-up call to policy-makers to focus more effort on improving education, healthcare and adult support for the rapidly growing population of citizens who have Down syndrome."
Peter Elliott, Chairman of The Down’s Syndrome Research Foundation, who has a 24-year-old son David with Down’s Syndrome, said: "Why are the abortions at such a high rate unless they have been given the impression the situation was terrible and it warranted an abortion?"
The question I ask myself when considering this is based on my ability to love, could I love a Down’s child? Yes, I could and I know three sets of parents who do. I am going to change her name, in case her parents are reading this, however Anita is loved by many in the small Cotswold town in which she lives.
She has very strong likes and dislikes in terms of which music and TV programs she likes and she is very inquisitive and funny. Whilst I am writing this I realise how long it is since I had one of her totally loving cuddles.
I know of another Down’s couple who fell in love and now live together.
It is estimated that there are approximately 60,000 people with Down's syndrome currently living in the UK. Many of them happily and heartily and contributing to the community in which they live.
Today’s report in the Telegraph makes depressing reading. Many babies aborted with Downs are aborted late into the pregnancy. They are not children of a lesser God; they just have a different contribution to make than. If we really are striving to live in an equal society, at the very least, do they not have a right for their life to be considered?
Posted Monday, 26 October 2009 at 15:29
We had a great response to the
Any Questions programme.
Jacqui Smith was incredibly nasty to me when, as a new MP, I sat on my first Bill committee. I remember thinking to myself at the time, 'one day lady, one day'. As the
Mail on Sunday pointed out, my day arrived.
Jacqui Smith forgot a crucial fact during the programme.
The days of untruths, spin and treating people like fools are well and truly over.
What made me furious was her assertion that the postal workers strike had nothing to do with the Prime Minister pulling the Bill to part privatise the Royal Mail.
That was an astounding attempt at a lie.
When the weak and un-elected Gordon Brown pulled the Bill he created a policy void that the CWU dived into, announcing strikes almost immediately.
For Jacqui Smith to have asserted that there was no connection was astounding and it set the tone for the remainder of the programme.
Just who do you think you are?
Posted Thursday, 22 October 2009 at 14:39
Today, in between everything else, I am preparing for Any Questions which is taking place in Sussex this week.
Thanks to Amanda Platell for quoting me extensively, from my article on yesterday’s
ConservativeHome, in her article in today’s
Daily Mail. Just my luck that the AWS row kicks off as I’m about to do a programme like that!
If I have time today I want to write about
Kier Starmer, the DPP, and his
latest outburst. I have the title for the blog in my head – Just who do you think you are? I just can’t get the song out of my head right now.
Had no idea until I was told last night that a quote from Monday’s blog about X-Factor, was the BBC network quote of the day on Tuesday, still don’t know which quote it was.
A female PPC and I have just been having a chat about her weekend. We discussed faith and the fact that we had both been to church on Sunday. Here is what she said to me, “You know, I really struggle with my faith, between needing it and knowing I couldn’t live without it, and wanting to kill someone”. Oh, what dilemmas faith presents us with?
More on superstar Starmer later.
ConservativeHome article on all-women shortlists
Posted Wednesday, 21 October 2009 at 11:51
Posted Monday, 19 October 2009 at 13:00
And so our Saturday nights across the nation have become the time for X – Factor or Strictly Come Dancing.
I confess to being one of the millions who would rather stay in on a Saturday night and cosy up with a bottle of red wine, a nice supper and feast on my weekly diet of trash TV.
The irony of the X Factor show hit me quite suddenly this Sunday evening.
A programme which provides young talent from any street in the UK, regardless of background, colour, or creed, with the pathway to stardom inadvertently highlighted exactly where that path could lead.
Last Sunday was the night for Robbie Williams, a true pop idol in the eyes of many of the millions of young people who watched his mentoring of young hopefuls on the programme and then expected to enjoy his performance.
Many questions were asked the following morning regarding Robbie’s wild-eyed, decidedly odd appearance and performance.
Last night was the turn of Whitney. No one can detract from the amazing career this woman has had and all that she has contributed to the world of music, however, her performance last night, her dazed and vacant behaviour, was cringe worthy and the same questions will be asked in the press tomorrow after her late night performance.
So, what are we saying to the young wannabes taking part in this show? Win X-Factor and one day you will be so desperately sad and troubled, so lacking in confidence, your soul will be so tortured that you too one day will be like this?
The programme, which holds the dreams of a dozen or so young people in the palm of its hands, may in fact be shining a light down the road to misery, loneliness and ruin.
Cheryl Cole is a strong and successful woman, and thank God for her performance last night which gave out the message ‘it doesn’t need to be like that’. Danni appears to hold her career together well and Simon Cowell is a role model for all young men. However, Robbie and Whitney may once have been that strong and well put together.
Last night’s programme appeared to present a huge juxtaposition between a world of success, fame, and wealth and happy ever after with loneliness, sadness, dependency and loss.
I am sure the show’s producers loved the glazed performance from Whitney as it will guarantee a few more column inches somewhere and even more publicity for the show. I do hope they can balance that out.
With success comes responsibility, not only for an individual but in this case for the show at large. Get a grip X-Factor. It’s a fantastic show, but keep your message clean and positive. The eyes of millions of children and teenagers are watching you. Do not mix the image of success and wealth with one of desperation and dependency because you know that’s just plain wrong.
Posted Thursday, 15 October 2009 at 21:28
Ashley Green was my association chairman on the night I was selected for Mid Beds. When the two of us are together, we always talk about that night as we both enjoyed it so much.
Today, whilst he was leaflet delivering in Bedford, Ahley had his hand badly bitten by a dog. It was a dash to the A+E in Stevenage, where they have a hand specialist and it doesn't look like he will be delivering any leaflets for a little while to come.
Lots of love Ashley. I have tried to call but I can't get through due to the thousands of other well wishers obviously doing the same! x
Posted Thursday, 15 October 2009 at 18:57
Sorry, should have up-dated my blog page earlier than this. Im not doing QT or the BQ. Damian Green is on QT and I hope they get to discuss the report regarding the overzealous police action. After all, after bugging the car, staking out the wrong house and crashing into his office - and all they had to do was ask him could they have a chat!
In fact, I have not accepted any media bids this week, even turning down the Jeremy Vine show and the Today prog. As someone who hasn't claimed a mortgage or for cleaners, gardners, furniture, a company, duck houses, beds, home improvments or anything similar. I have felt the full force of the opressive atmoshere and find the whole thing hideous. I wish we could just have a general election right now, and no one really wants to hear me say that. :)
We have the Mayoral elections over here today - Parvez for Bedford!
Posted Monday, 12 October 2009 at 17:20
There have been better days for democracy than this.
In members lobby earlier today I spied a crush of fifty or so journalists watching the members post box, salivating.
Chloe Smith has been sworn in, which was a lifting moment.
I am doing Question Time in Hull this Thursday with Alan Johnson and the Big Question on Sunday. Busy week ahead.
Parvez For Mayor!
Posted Friday, 9 October 2009 at 22:33
Blimey! Only just stopped and have to catch a flight in a few hours.
I spent part of my day with Parvez, the Conservative candidate for the Bedford Mayoral election which takes place next Thursday.
Parvez is an astounding candidate. Not only does he live in the heart of Bedford, with all the problems the remainder of his neighbours live with, but he is also the most gentle, un-assuming, modest, humble, kindest individual you could ever wish to meet.
Bedford has been let down by one failing administration after another. The town centre is quite frankly screaming out for help.
Parvez reminds me of the newly elected mayor for Doncaster. He wants to cut council tax, do more for less and turn Bedford into a town which people can be proud to shop and socialise in.
Next Thursday, which is polling day, I will be spending almost the entire day in Turvey. If you can join us for a pub lunch and help GOTV then please call my constituency office on 01462 811992.
I have to be honest about this, its also a great opportunity to share a beer and enjoy chatting to the people you just never have time to sit down and talk to in the hectic life we all live.
So, take a day out – get over to Turvey next Thursday. Parvez and I will be thrilled to see you because it is going to be one awesome day, and It would be just great if you could be a part of that.
Look forward to seeing you there.
Sam and Sarah
Posted Wednesday, 7 October 2009 at 14:02
Tomorrow David Cameron will take to the conference stage and, once again, Sam will join him.
She will no doubt be a very proud lady and I'm sure there will be the spontaneous display of emotion you would expect from an affectionate and loving couple.
However, I can guarantee something that Sam will definitely not do. I can absolutely 100% assure you that hell would freeze over before Sam would stand on that platform and describe David as her "hero" as Sarah Brown did at the Labour conference.
Sam is for real. She is far more likely to tell David to 'get over himself' should he, for one minute, begin to behave like a potential Prime Minister when he's at home.
Sam keeps David real. She does it via dirty nappies and the school run; by ensuring that they maintain a balance between what's work and life, what's important and not.
I'm sure she wouldn't be impressed if David got up or went to bed at hours which almost met, because that's not normal and it’s not how you live a family life. That's how someone who has it all wrong behaves. Life is about maintaining a balance which enhances your judgment and perspective and feeds the inner person with the things that make you happy.
I can only begin to imagine Sam's response had she been asked to stand on the stage in a rather pathetic and pleading way and inform the nation how much she loves her husband, that he was her hero.
Dare I say, it's just not British? It’s not what we do. People instinctively didn't like it; it was just plain wrong.
Sarah Brown would genuinely have been acting from a position of love and concern for her husband, and like any wife, would do anything she could to help, but it really didn't do Gordon any favours.
There can hardly be a working woman in the land who didn't inwardly cringe when she saw and heard that speech.
It, in itself, was a statement that spoke of absolute desperation and misjudgement. Whoever told Sarah it was a good idea got it so wrong.
We want to see Sam join David. We want to see them on the stage, united in love and purpose, side by side.
But its David we want to hear from, David we want to judge for ourselves. We want to see and know that there is a strong and capable woman behind him who makes sure he takes the time out to be a family man and to enjoy his friends, but it’s David we want to lead the country.
The more Sam earths David, the better for us all. If she ever starts to describe him as her hero we will know they have both lost the plot and in doing so will lose the trust of those who will invest in our future Prime Minister.
And anyway, wouldn't we all think it was so much nicer if it was Sam who was David's heroine? I'm sure it really is that way around and long may it last.
So don't expect a replay of the tummy turning schmoltz you saw last week at the Labour conference because it just isn't happening at ours.
News in blog.
Posted Friday, 2 October 2009 at 14:53
The news that the Sun newspaper has taken its hat off to David Cameron and the Conservative party has been met with glee by me and many others. However, exactly how much of an impact this will have on votes is not quite as certain as it was in 1997, when they famously did the same for Labour, as the Campbell diaries reveal ‘the fruit of three years hard work’.
The reason for this is the advancing role the internet plays in news reporting. Blogs, Twitter and many sites provide free, on the minute, as it happens news which many people access from the workplace, the kitchen table, or study in their own home. They no longer have to wait until the next day to pay for a newspaper to tell them news the blogs may have already been running for 20hrs.
Tim Montgomerie, Iain Dale and the legendary Guido Fawkes lead the field in news blogging. Each can boast equal daily readership comparable to some of the widest read paid for papers.
Yesterday, Iain rightly took exception to a slanderous and offensive slur printed against him in the Daily Mail and immediately exposed it on his blog.
The support he was given via an immediate rally of offended citizens responding to his disclosure on the blog will guarantee his complaint to the PCC will be under scrutiny.
At the beginning of the week, Tim ran a poll of his readers to discover their attitude towards the Daily Telegraph. Today his piece on ConservativeHome and the subsequent comments, highlight the failing political reporting of the Telegraph. More tellingly, Tim reports the way in which he was berated by a Telegraph journalist for having published editorial earlier in the year which may not have been entirely favourable to the newspaper.
During Easter, Guido highlighted on his blog the manner in which the Telegraph had behaved during smeargate and entirely exposed the newspapers dependence on and closeness to Damian McBride.
A successful campaign for Iain yesterday, a considered and thoughtful editorial from Tim today and in his usual style of raw honesty, a very high profile exposure for Guido earlier in the year - it’s little wonder the press are becoming slightly tetchy.
You only have to look at sites like PoliticsHome , to realise that what you get free online is far superior to any thing you pay for in terms of news content. Read the Guardian Comment is free blog, or the Spectator Coffee House for high standard editorial written by journalists such as James Forsyth, to wonder just how long does the printed press have left, and who will survive?
I can only believe that Obama’s recent comments that blogs are light on fact checking and shout at each other were made following a lunch or similar with big newspaper business interests in the States.
Just as the newspaper world has its top shelf and red tops, the blogosphere hosts sites I would never wish to read. That’s the variety of life and free speech.
By and large the news blogs are high on honesty and fact checking. In the daily competition for traffic they self regulate, taking issue with each other. Over the last few years news bloggers have come into their own and the quality of their work would challenge any professional journalist.
I think Iain, and Tim, have demonstrated over the last couple of days that the top blogs have power, influence and muscle. There are many journalists who would like to be as well known as they are.
It really isn’t good enough for the press to think they can be offensive and get away with it, or arrogantly throw their weight around in a way that behaves as though the blogs are somehow inferior and think no one will get to hear of it.
The world will hear. People in every country will know, the news can and will travel the globe, instantly, and most importantly it will do it for free.
Posted Thursday, 1 October 2009 at 23:00
Conkers,conkers, everywhere and not a little boy to see - they're all at home, growing large and playing on a Wii.