29 January 2020, The Tablet

I had begun to feel a certain warmth towards Rebecca Long-Bailey…

I had begun to feel a certain warmth towards Rebecca Long-Bailey…

The row over Rebecca Long-Bailey’s position on abortion hasn’t got any prettier now that she has been put on the defensive over the issue. She is the Labour leadership candidate who was outed for having given an interview at Salford Cathedral where she not only acknowledged that Catholicism helped form her politics but suggested that the present abortion law discriminates against disabled foetuses in that they may be aborted up to birth. It was, she hastened to make clear, a private view, but it didn’t prevent every other candidate reacting with revulsion – you know, the way normal people might if someone expressed anti-Semitic sentiments.

Even someone relatively sensible, like The Times leader writer Oliver Kamm, responded: “These are extraordinary and grotesque opinions. Catholic priests have no right whatever to have their views heard as priests but only as citizens. Their hostility to legal abortion is morally reprehensible and rejected by more than 90 per cent of voters.” You can just about imagine, can’t you, the contempt with which he inwardly spat out the words “Catholic priests”. Yep, we have come to this: expressing doubts about the right to kill a disabled foetus up to birth – infanticide is another word for it – or about abortion generally is “grotesque” for Mr Kamm, about as sturdy a pillar of the liberal establish­ment as there is. And we are, it seems, back to the dear old days when Catholics are suspect because we are on moral issues under orders from the pope or our confessors. If only.

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