I’ve previously commented here how much I enjoy representing this community locally but my role also includes considering such controversial issues as euthanasia, abortion and recreational drugs. It’s unprecedented that a single Parliamentary term features so many tough issues. It’s certainly a baptism of fire for me personally.
These matters are almost invariably “conscience votes” in Parliament, meaning that each MP makes his or her own decision free from a party position. My responsibility is to represent the whole electorate – blue or red, rich or poor, conservative or liberal, weak or strong – and I take that very seriously.
First, I acknowledge openly that, like everyone, I have a philosophical starting-point for considering these matters. In the case of recreational drugs, it’s the danger of addiction for young minds. In the case of euthanasia, it’s a fear of coercion for our neglected elderly. In the case of abortion, it’s balancing the right of a woman to protect her own health and that of her unborn being (a “foetus” or a “baby”, as you wish) developing continuously towards birth.
I’ve been upfront about these issues whenever asked, from the 2017 election campaign onwards, but I also welcome constituents’ views, as these can challenge or confirm. I can’t ultimately satisfy everyone’s wishes – as any given vote will please some and displease others – but I can and do take all viewpoints seriously.
As with any human endeavour, consultation is not a perfect process and I’m particularly wary of binary questions about complex issues. For example, polling ostensibly on the End of Life Choice Bill cannot be considered reliable when catch-all euphemisms such as “assisted dying” are used, given this can variously mean palliative care, standard pain relief or (as the Bill seeks to introduce) euthanasia and assisted suicide practices.
I remain happy to meet with any constituent to discuss any issue so please keep the contact coming!