Goodbye Alex Salmond

Alex SalmondThere are two things I will always remember about Alex Salmond, who has just announced that he’s stepping down as leader of the SNP and First Minister of Scotland.

One of them is that on 20th May 2008, as MP for Banff and Buchan, he paid one of his rare visits to the Commons to vote for forcing women who need abortions after 20 weeks to have to leave the UK by making abortion illegal for them to access in the UK.

Most abortions after 20 weeks are either for medical reasons (read personal stories from women in Ireland who were in that situation) or because a young woman delayed getting help out of confusion, ignorance, fear – or sometimes malice on the part of prolife medical personnel: or because it took them so much time to save up the fare from Ireland and the cost of an abortion here.

When asked to explain his position on abortion as an MP by a Banff and Buchan constituent, Alex Salmond wrote back to her on First Minister notepaper to say that abortion was a reserved issue.

Alex Salmond and a teacakeThe other thing I shall always remember about Alex Salmond is that he routinely claimed £400 a month for food on MP expenses – the maximum amount an MP can claim for food without having to show receipts. He claimed £400 for food essential to do his duties as an MP, even during the two months when Westminster was in recess.

Between March 2007 and 1st April 2008, the Banff and Buchan MP voted on only six days in the House of Commons – but he claimed £1751.50 for food. In total that financial year, Salmond claimed £116,000 for his “expenses” – the majority of it for staffing his Westminster office, £31,336 for his own personal expenses, or just over £5000 per vote.

So that’s what I’ll always remember about Alex Salmond.

You can donate here to the Abortion Support Network, which helps women in Ireland out of the situation Alex Salmond voted to establish in the UK.

As if deciding to have an abortion wasn't enough of a journey

5 Comments

Filed under Scottish Politics, Women

5 responses to “Goodbye Alex Salmond

  1. He also stalled all attempts to bring true justice to the Lockerbie families and STILL blankly repeats the old establishment mantras about ‘seeing no reason the question the verdict handed down…’ Etc.

  2. Sarah

    Just go’s to show what the rest in Westminster must be claiming!!!!
    I think that women should have the final say on issues of their own body and it is not right politicians can manipulate law for religious believes hidden in the power they hold as I would think it would be something to do with doing that visit to London.
    He did a lot of good in Scotland but Scotland is rotten to the core with religious biggots spoiling all that could be great in Scotland.

  3. juliusbeezer

    As MPs in minority parties have about zero influence on government whips, and therefore on the processes prior to the vote, and the outcome of the vote, I accept George Galloway’s defence of his own “poor voting record” that other metrics should be used to judge his effectiveness as an MP: attendance, interventions, constituency work etc.
    And late abortion is a real edge case. Assuming a line must be drawn somewhere (Should it be legal for a depressed mother to strangle her full-term infant at birth?), one can understand hospital staff finding it contradictory (and upsetting) to be pulling out all the stops in special care for a 23 weeks-premature baby while literally next door a normal 23 week pregancy is being terminated. It’s not easy, you don’t have to do it, nor are you obliged to listen to representations from people who do, so cut the man a bit of slack will ya? Reasonable people can, and do, disagree on that one.
    I agree with you about his food bill, though: surely that’s what your salary’s for innit?

    • This post is not about George Galloway. For posts about George Galloway, see those tagged George Galloway. As George Galloway is a rape apologist, I have no concern about his poor attendance record in Parliament: I’d rather it was a zero attendance record. Presumably it soon will be after May 2015.

      With regard to late-term abortion, your defense of the notion that it’s better for a woman who needs an abortion after 20 weeks to have to go abroad to whatever clinic she can afford to travel to, than to be able to have her pregnancy terminated in a hospital in her own country, is effectively making safe legal abortion a privilege of the wealthy. Or are you vaguely under the impression that if a woman is told by her doctors that they’re not legally allowed to perform an abortion in that country, that she’ll stop needing to have an abortion? Not so: the patient may disappear from the doctors’ view, but she still exists.

      One tragic aftereffect of that attitude: a girl who hadn’t gone to see her doctor til she was 20 weeks pregnant: her doctor turned back her request for an abortion – as many UK doctors will at 20 weeks unless there’s a medical reason: the girl went home, told no one, eventually gave birth in her bedroom alone, wrapped the baby in sheets and put it into her wardrobe, where the baby died. This happened in the Lothians a few years ago. Why should she have had an abortion? Because it would have been better than putting the girl through that alone, then the state having to try her for infanticide.

      It’s not easy, you don’t have to do it, nor are you obliged to listen to representations from people who do, so cut the man a bit of slack will ya?

      No. Alex Salmond doesn’t have to do abortions, because he isn’t a doctor or a nurse, never was and probably never will be. Nor is it at all likely that he “listened to representations” from doctors and nurses (who are, I may remind you, in the UK legally exempted from having to perform abortions, though not from aftercare). More likely, he “listened to representations” from men who neither have to perform abortions nor who have need of abortions: clerics of the Catholic and of the Presbyterian church. Or else he was trying to “court the Catholic vote” – in Scotland there are many working-class Catholics who reliably vote Labour and whose vote the SNP has been trying to “court” for years: as many Catholic voters have pointed out, when politicians try to “court the Catholic vote”, what they invariably mean is not that they try to win over Catholic voters, but that they promise legislation or regulations that would ban access to contraception or abortion, ban same-sex marriage or allow adoption agencies to turn away same-sex couples as prospective parents. If you were more familiar with Scottish politics you might already be aware of this or find this understandable.

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