31 May 2019
by Michael J Robinson
In the past week, Theresa May announced that she will be officially resigning as Conservative leader on the 7th June. Subsequently, a number of senior Tories have declared their intention to stand in the leadership contest, which will begin on the 10th June. This leadership contest will decide the new leader of the Conservatives and consequently the UK’s next Prime Minister.
The contest has two stages.
- The first stage (shortlisting) involves a series of votes by current MPs, who will decide on the top two candidates.
- The second stage then involves these two candidates going head to head in a final vote where the grassroots membership of the Conservative party will decide on the winner.
In other words, it is ordinary members of the Conservative Party - those who pay £25 a year - who get the final say on who the next prime minister is. (There will not be a general election because the party is already in power.) Interestingly, the Conservative Party have not released up-to-date member numbers but in 2018, the number was around 125,000. Therefore, approximately 0.2% of the UK population will get a say in who the next leader of the UK will be.
A Pro-Life Prime Minister?
The new Prime Minister will inherit an inbox overflowing with many pressing issues. However, there is no greater issue than the injustice of abortion. As you will be aware, presently there is enormous pressure aiming to decriminalise abortion in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and, currently in Scotland to introduce assisted suicide. In light of this, I thought it would be useful for Conservative MPs, party members and anyone interested in the future of the UK to have a voting record outline, which details the voting records on the key pro-life areas, for each of the current leadership candidates.
Even though SPUC is politically neutral, I hope the graphic below will assist you in understanding and assessing the views of the candidates on important life issues.
Theresa May was steadfast in her opposition to forcing abortion reform on Northern Ireland. She played a pivotal role here by her insistence that devolution in Northern Ireland must be upheld. The pro-abortion organisation, Amnesty International, pinpointed Mrs May as key to the failure, so far, of the abortion lobby to decriminalise abortion. Grainne Teggart, Amnesty’s Northern Ireland campaign manager said:
“The government under Theresa May has failed women in Northern Ireland on abortion. They had the opportunity to decriminalise it but she has stayed silent.”
It is therefore crucial that the next Prime Minister should be open to resisting all attempts to decriminalise abortion. In particular, the next PM should not give parliamentary time to any measures aimed at extending abortion.
A Prime Minister for Parents?
The pro-life community will also be hoping for a PM who will uphold the rights of parents to protect their children from inappropriate teaching on relationships and sex in schools. Pro-life values are nurtured first and foremost in the family.
So how do the contenders rate on this score? Overwhelmingly, the contenders sat on the fence during a vote in 2011 aimed at giving (unmarried) girls between 13-216 information about the benefits of abstinence from sexual activity. Sajid Javid was the only one to cast a pro-family vote in favour of this. James Cleverly and Kit Malthouse were not MPs at the time.
Apart from Esther McVey, who was not an MP at the time, every other candidate abstained or was absent from a vote in 2015 to make sex education compulsory.
More recently, in March 2019, with the exception of Esther McVey, who was absent or abstained, every other contender voted in favour of compulsory Relationships Education in primary schools and Relationships and Sex Education in all schools in England.
The most promising candidate seems to be Esther McVey, who told Sky News on 30 May 2019: ‘I believe parents know best for their children. While they’re still children – and we’re talking primary school [age] – then really the parents need to have the final say on what they want their children to know’.
An Appeal in Hope
To the new leader of the UK, I appeal to you in hope. Do not extend abortion, this cruel and uncivilised practice, any further. Allow Northern Ireland to prosper free from the violent threat of abortion.
As you will see from the table, with a few exceptions, the majority of the candidates are public fence-sitters when it comes to abortion decriminalisation. This does not bode well that we will have a prime minister with the moral integrity to stand up for the unborn, the most vulnerable group in society.
As soon as we know who has won the leadership contest, SPUC will be pressing for an urgent meeting with the new PM.