Keep your rosaries off our ovaries…

Guest blogger Hang Bitch returns to Bright's Blog this time writing about the issue of abortion

Tory MP Nadine Dorries gears up to take another swat at abortion rights. Most women are very keen for Nadine to find another hobby.

Phd student Laura Schwartz, 25, was an organiser for one of two recent pro-abortion rallies in London. She, like many of us, was all set for combat, but finding the need for it very peculiar. 'The right to abortion needs to be fought for again,' she said, clearly perturbed by that fact. 'We want to do something that is direct action, where normal women can counter the pro-life brigade.'

Fair call to arms: those pro-life maniacs certainly need countering. Tory MP Nadine Dorries (the rather toothsome middle-aged blonde who famously finished just out of the medals in the recent most-fanciable MPs contest) has galvanised for Jesus H Christ and assorted Almighties and is about to table another private member's bill that compromises abortion rights (at the time of writing, the bill was still due to be tabled on 23 March).

Nadine's tried this before, and not so long ago: her last termination of pregnancy bill, which got a decided licking when it came to the vote, was an attempt to cut the time limit for legal abortion, and to bring a compulsory ten-day cooling-off period into frame for women who want abortions – ten days presumably being the amount of time the average female needs to work out that she's fluffed, and find God.

Nadine is not a pro-lifer, according to her blog. Alas, she remains a literal godsend to the (very) few people who are pro-lifers with this private bill: that lot will take any evidence that the Lord swings the pendulum in favour of their limping offensive. Dorries advocates cutting the time-limit for legal abortion from 24 weeks, on the grounds, it seems, that a baby might feel pain at that age (although that's also a point of vigorous debate) and that technical improvements - let's call it them improvements – make it possible to save babies born before they've spent 24 weeks' in the womb. A few technical go-getters have even managed to shave two weeks off the 24-weeks' gestation benchmark and resuscitated babies born at 22 weeks. By this logic, a late abortion is a sort of two-fingered salute to advances in neonate preservation.

The pro-abortion argument is, rightly, that (the very few) women who want safe, late abortions aren't particularly interested to know that the science is also right for people who want to break neonate-resuscitation records. Late abortion and premature-baby resuscitation are two completely different fields. It seems very unlikely that any woman ever wanted both at the same time. The two disciplines have nothing to do with each other. Those who pretend they do draw a very long bow.

There's not much doubt that we are very good at medical advance. The bit that we're not so good at, as Laura Schwartz rightly says, is the real-life, social-responsibility part of the reproductive picture. We're not, for example, very good at supporting mothers at work and at home. 'We are still in a very bad position in terms of equal pay, a living wage for working-class women, and benefits that single mothers can live on,' Schwartz says.

We are.It's not like things are improving in a hurry those fronts, either. People who are on benefits are already short of fans: anybody who fancies himself as a political chance floats the idea that everybody on welfare is a cheat, and then floats the idea of cracking down on welfare cheats. Women are still at a disadvantage when it comes to pay, promotion and flexible working arrangements. The eagerness MPs show to line up for God/Allah is chilling, too. The political stage as we have it is cluttered with a quite fascinating cast of religious zealots and/or Christian and Muslim toadies, all of whom have far too much say on subjects for which they have no sympathy whatsoever - ie, women, the entirely human contraceptive oversights that lead to unwanted pregnancy, and getting fired from your job when you get knocked up. Even the SWP has found Allah. Nadine may be no pro-lifer, but she is an opportunist. Why do female MPs want to give sexism a tail wind in this way?

Getty
Show Hide image

Just you wait – soon fake news will come to football

No point putting out a story saying that Chelsea got stuffed 19-1 by Spurs. Who would believe it, even if Donald Trump tweeted it?

So it is all settled: Cristiano Ronaldo will be arriving at Carlisle United at the end of the month, just before deadline day. It all makes sense. He has fallen in love with a Herdwick sheep, just as Beatrix Potter did, and like her, he is putting his money and energy into helping Cumbria, the land of the Herdwick.

He fell out with his lover in Morocco, despite having a private plane to take him straight from every Real Madrid game to their weekly assignation, the moment this particular Herdwick came into his life. His mother will be coming with him, as well as his son, Cristiano Ronaldo, Jr. They want to bring the boy
up communing with nature, able to roam free, walking among the lakes and fells.

Behind the scenes, his agent has bought up CUFC and half of Cumbria on his behalf, including Sellafield, so it is a wise investment. Clearly CUFC will be promoted this year – just look where they are in the table – then zoom-zoom, up they go, back in the top league, at which point his agent hopes they will be offered megabucks by some half-witted Chinese/Russian/Arab moneybags.

Do you believe all that? It is what we now call in the trade fake news, or post-truth – or, to keep it simple, a total lie, or, to be vulgar, complete bollocks. (I made it up, although a pundit on French TV hinted that he thought the bit about Ronaldo’s friend in Morocco might not be too far-fetched. The stuff about Beatrix Potter loving Herdwicks is kosher.)

Fake news is already the number-one topic in 2017. Just think about all those round robins you got with Christmas cards, filled with fake news, such as grandchildren doing brilliantly at school, Dad’s dahlias winning prizes, while we have just bought a gem in Broadstairs for peanuts.

Fake news is everywhere in the world of politics and economics, business and celebrity gossip, because all the people who really care about such topics are sitting all day on Facebook making it up. And if they can’t be arsed to make it up, they pass on rubbish they know is made up.

Fake news has long been with us. Instead of dropping stuff on the internet, they used to drop it from the skies. I have a copy of a leaflet that the German propaganda machine dropped over our brave lads on the front line during the war. It shows what was happening back in Blighty – handsome US soldiers in bed with the wives and girlfriends of our Tommies stuck at the front.

So does it happen in football? At this time of the year, the tabloids and Sky are obsessed by transfer rumours, or rumours of transfer rumours, working themselves into a frenzy of self-perpetuating excitement, until the final minute of deadline day, when the climax comes at last, uh hum – all over the studio, what a mess.

In Reality, which is where I live, just off the North Circular – no, down a bit, move left, got it – there is no such thing as fake news in football. We are immune from fantasy facts. OK, there is gossip about the main players – will they move or will they not, will they be sued/prosecuted/dropped?

Football is concerned with facts. You have to get more goals than the other team, then you win the game. Fact. Because all the Prem games are live on telly, we millions of supplicant fans can see with our eyes who won. No point putting out a story saying that Chelsea got stuffed 19-1 by Spurs. Who would believe it, even if Donald Trump tweeted it?

I suppose the Russkis could hack into the Sky transmissions, making the ball bounce back out of the goal again, or manipulating the replay so goals get scored from impossible angles, or fiddling the electronic scoreboards.

Hmm, now I think about it, all facts can be fiddled, in this electronic age. The Premier League table could be total fiction. Bring back pigeons. You could trust them for the latest news. Oh, one has just arrived. Ronaldo’s romance  with the Herdwick is off! And so am I. Off to Barbados and Bequia
for two weeks.

Hunter Davies’s latest book is “The Biscuit Girls” (Ebury Press, £6.99)

Hunter Davies is a journalist, broadcaster and profilic author perhaps best known for writing about the Beatles. He is an ardent Tottenham fan and writes a regular column on football for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 12 January 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Putin's revenge