Coming soon to a GP surgery near you? (Photo:Getty)
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Astrology on the NHS? At least David Tredinnick is honest

David Tredinnick, the Conservative MP for Bosworth, is under fire after suggesting Astrology should be paid for on the NHS. But at least he's honest in his intentions

David Tredinnick , the Conservative MP for Bosworth, is getting something of a going-over in today’s papers after telling the Mail that he thinks that astrology should be paid for on the NHS, and that people who don’t agree are “racist”.

Mr Tredinnick said:

The opposition (to astrology) is based on what I call the SIP formula - superstition, ignorance, and prejudice.

It tends to be based on superstition, with scientists reacting emotionally, which is always a great irony.

They are also ignorant, because they never study the subject and just say that it is all to do with what appears in the newspapers, which it is not, and they are deeply prejudiced, and racially prejudiced, which is troubling.
 

It’s revived old stories about Mr Tredinnick and his eccentric views – with this old Guardian story about his attempt to claim £755 for a computer capable of diagnosing medical conditions using the stars doing the rounds on Twitter.

It’s very easy to laugh at the Bosworth MP – typical Capricorn, should have checked his star chart before speaking to the Mail, etc – and I think we can all agree, barring a nuclear catastrophe, that he should never get within a thousand miles of ministerial office.

But at least he’s honest. Opposition to abortion -  just seven per cent of British people favour further restrictions to abortion access - is actually even more of a niche pursuit than astrology (22 per cent of Brits do it!), and earlier this week Britain’s anti-abortion MPs, having lost the argument in plain language – just seven per cent of British people favour further restrictions to abortion access – tried to weaken Britain’s abortion laws under cover of darkness.

Fiona Bruce’s amendment to the Serious Crime Bill was described as an attempt to prevent so-called gender-selective-abortion. But the reality is that there is no evidence at all that this is taking place in the United Kingdom, and that the real purpose of the amendment was to weaken abortion access as a whole. They were defeated by 91 votes – a far smaller margin than a honest articulation of the amendment’s supporters’ arguments would have gained.

So for all David Tredinnick might be a crank, at least he’s honest about it. Britain's anti-choice campaigners could learn a lot from him.

 

Stephen Bush is editor of the Staggers, the New Statesman’s political blog.

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What do Labour's lost voters make of the Labour leadership candidates?

What does Newsnight's focus group make of the Labour leadership candidates?

Tonight on Newsnight, an IpsosMori focus group of former Labour voters talks about the four Labour leadership candidates. What did they make of the four candidates?

On Andy Burnham:

“He’s the old guard, with Yvette Cooper”

“It’s the same message they were trying to portray right up to the election”​

“I thought that he acknowledged the fact that they didn’t say sorry during the time of the election, and how can you expect people to vote for you when you’re not actually acknowledging that you were part of the problem”​

“Strongish leader, and at least he’s acknowledging and saying let’s move on from here as opposed to wishy washy”

“I was surprised how long he’d been in politics if he was talking about Tony Blair years – he doesn’t look old enough”

On Jeremy Corbyn:

"“He’s the older guy with the grey hair who’s got all the policies straight out of the sixties and is a bit of a hippy as well is what he comes across as” 

“I agree with most of what he said, I must admit, but I don’t think as a country we can afford his principles”

“He was just going to be the opposite of Conservatives, but there might be policies on the Conservative side that, y’know, might be good policies”

“I’ve heard in the paper he’s the favourite to win the Labour leadership. Well, if that was him, then I won’t be voting for Labour, put it that way”

“I think he’s a very good politician but he’s unelectable as a Prime Minister”

On Yvette Cooper

“She sounds quite positive doesn’t she – for families and their everyday issues”

“Bedroom tax, working tax credits, mainly mum things as well”

“We had Margaret Thatcher obviously years ago, and then I’ve always thought about it being a man, I wanted a man, thinking they were stronger…  she was very strong and decisive as well”

“She was very clear – more so than the other guy [Burnham]”

“I think she’s trying to play down her economics background to sort of distance herself from her husband… I think she’s dumbing herself down”

On Liz Kendall

“None of it came from the heart”

“She just sounds like someone’s told her to say something, it’s not coming from the heart, she needs passion”

“Rather than saying what she’s going to do, she’s attacking”

“She reminded me of a headteacher when she was standing there, and she was quite boring. She just didn’t seem to have any sort of personality, and you can’t imagine her being a leader of a party”

“With Liz Kendall and Andy Burnham there’s a lot of rhetoric but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of direction behind what they’re saying. There seems to be a lot of words but no action.”

And, finally, a piece of advice for all four candidates, should they win the leadership election:

“Get down on your hands and knees and start praying”

Stephen Bush is editor of the Staggers, the New Statesman’s political blog.