Why won’t Leveson ask to see Dave’s emails?

Independent on Sunday, 21 October 2012

I don’t suppose David Cameron is looking forward to the publication of Lord Justice Leveson’s report on the press next month. The Prime Minister squirmed through an uncomfortable day at the inquiry in the summer, when his close friendship with the former Sun and News of the World editor, Rebekah Brooks, was revealed in a series of texts and emails. But he must have breathed a sigh of relief last week when the inquiry did not order him to hand over another cache of messages between himself and Brooks, which is said to include embarrassing exchanges.

The fact that the inquiry hasn’t demanded the emails is perplexing. It has rightly gone beyond the phone-hacking scandal to probe the relationship between editors and politicians, producing some of the most fascinating exchanges of the whole inquiry. Who could forget Cameron’s chagrin as a text from Brooks promising a “country supper soon” was read out in the courtroom? Now it turns out there are many more messages between Cameron and Brooks, and between Cameron and his former communications
chief Andy Coulson, but the Prime Minister believes he’s entitled to withhold them, saying he’s been assured by lawyers that they’re not “relevant”.

I’m sure Cameron was very relieved indeed to get this advice. (Who paid for it, by the way? Earlier this year, the Cabinet Office told me that ministers were entitled to “legal support” for those parts of their evidence that relate to government business – but not for the period when they were in Opposition.) But it is surely up to Lord Leveson, not the Prime Minister, to decide which documents are relevant to the job he’s been asked to do. Nor did Cameron help his case with a petulant performance in the House of Commons, where he refused to answer a parliamentary question on the emails from the Labour MP and phone- hacking victim Chris Bryant.

On Friday, the Prime Minister replied to a letter from Labour’s deputy leader, Harriet Harman, and insisted that he had “cooperated fully with the inquiry and given them all the material, that they have asked for”. But that isn’t the point, as Bryant immediately
pointed out. “It stinks of a cover-up,” he said. The question isn’t what the inquiry asked for; it’s about the prime minister’s judgement and what qualifies him to make decisions
about the relevance of material in which he’s personally involved. If the messages consist only of innocuous observations about the delights of the Oxfordshire countryside, their disclosure would do no lasting harm. So the obvious inference, as with the Attorney General’s decision last week to block publication of Prince Charles’s letters to ministers, is that they’re much more revealing than that.

Up to now, Lord Leveson has gone about his business with a polite but steely resolve, and I cannot imagine why he hasn’t dispatched an officer of the court to Downing Street with an instruction to hand over the emails forthwith.

 

 

 

Why feminists were right all along

What Savile has done for feminism: campaigners against lad culture don’t look so humourless now, says Joan Smith. Are we witnessing a watershed moment?

The Times, Wednesday 17 October 2012

Just over forty years ago, an American band called Gary Puckett and The Union Gap got to number one in the British charts. Their single Young Girl sold more than a million copies and featured on Top of the Pops, where it was introduced one evening in May 1968 by Jimmy Savile. No one raised an eyebrow at the time but the lyrics, in which a man bemoans the discovery that his girlfriend is below the age of consent, now read like a hymn to paedophilia: ‘You led me to believe/ You’re old enough/ To give me love/ And now it hurts to know the truth’. It’s the classic tactic of blaming the victim, complete with references to ‘that come-on look’ in the girl’s eye.

History does not record whether Savile, then one of the BBC’s hippest DJs, saw any parallels between the song and his own behaviour.  Now we’re being told that things were different then, as though there’s something forgivable about men preying on under-age girls (and boys) if it happened in the past. Much the same is being said about the flood of accusations from women who say they were sexually harassed by well-known figures in the entertainment industry. ‘It was a different world in the 70s – all institutions were the same back then’, says Dave Lee Travis, the former Radio 1 DJ who’s been accused of groping two women in his studio. Travis denies the allegations but he’s one of several stars from the period who’ve been named in the scandal following the Savile
revelations.

Within a year of his death, Savile has been revealed as probably one of the UK’s most prolific paedophiles. He’s been linked to the pop star and convicted child sex offender Gary Glitter, who is said to have been seen in Savile’s dressing room having sex with an under-age girl. There have even been allegations of a ‘paedophile ring’ operating at the BBC, and the corporation has announced an inquiry into a culture and practice which seems to have allowed abuse to go unchecked for decades.

But the furore is unprecedented and about more than the behaviour of a handful of high-profile men. What’s in the dock is a wider culture which was sexist, out of control and for the most part unchallenged. Vivien Creegor, who has accused Travis of ‘jiggling her breasts’ while she was on air on Radio 4 in the 1980s, says she was too scared to report the alleged incident.  ‘I was in my early 20s and I was on an apprenticeship at the BBC, and I didn’t want to report a huge star like Dave Lee Travis,’ she says. ‘No woman who valued to her career would have been happy to put her name down on a harassment claim’. Two other presenters, Liz Kershaw and Sandi Toksvig, have claimed they were habitually groped by colleagues.

In the 70s, British bands like Led Zeppelin toured the US with what music journalists referred to as ‘road wives’, young women who provided sexual services in return for the glamour of being associated with a rock star. An American girl called Lori Maddox was only 14 when she began a relationship with Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page, and
she had to be kept hidden during the tour to protect Page from being arrested for statutory rape. Maddox was one of the so-called ‘baby groupies’ based in Los Angeles – Sable Starr was the most famous – who were aged between 12 and 16 when they had sex with rock stars. But it wasn’t just young girls who were at risk from predatory men. Led Zeppelin’s drummer John Bonham had to be dragged off a flight attendant during a US tour after announcing he was going to ‘have her from the rear’.

Another Radio 1 DJ, John Peel, worked on commercial radio stations in the US before joining the new BBC station in 1967. In interviews, he later spoke flippantly about the perks of the job, recalling that girls used to queue up outside his studio to offer him sex. ‘Well, of course, I didn’t ask for ID’, he said. ‘All they wanted me to do was to abuse them sexually which, of course I was only too happy to do’. Peel assumed that his taste for girls was nothing to be ashamed of, joking that ‘one of my regular customers, as it were, turned out to be 13, though she looked older’. His first wife was only 15 when he married her. They divorced in 1973 and she later committed suicide. None of this was an impediment to Peel’s reinvention of himself, towards the end of his life, as the uxorious presenter of Radio 4’s Home Truths.

Pop culture was so glamorous and influential that its misogyny quickly spread into other areas of British life. The feminism of the 1970s was a response to a widespread feeling that some men were habitually abusing women but it was caricatured as man-hating and humourless, leaving individual women feeling isolated. Pirelli calendars and Page 3 pictures of topless models accustomed men to thinking women’s bodies were a normal feature of everyday life, encouraging the founding of lads’ mags with titles like Loaded, Nuts and Zoo. Towards the end of the 1990s, women who worked in the City reported a new hazard: being expected to join male colleagues in trips to lap dancing clubs.

If things have changed, it’s happened very slowly. The Savile revelations are about paedophilia but they’ve lifted the lid on a rage that’s been simmering for years, prompting a flood of women (and one or two men) to come forward with a flood of stories about everything from verbal harassment to rape. The big question is whether history will show the Savile scandal to have been a turning point in attitudes to behaviour that used to go unquestioned. After all, in the sinister light of Savile’s unchecked paedophilia, it’s undeniable that a lot of things look very different. Who now thinks there’s anything normal about all those pictures of him with his arms around very young girls? And might more people now agree that publishing photographs of young women’s breasts, day after day, sends a message that it’s perfectly OK to treat them as sexual fodder?

When the Labour MP Clare Short began a campaign against Page 3 in the 1980s, she was derided and accused of being motivated by envy. Lorry-loads of glamour models turned up at her house, she was the target of cruel jibes about her appearance, and much the same happened when she raised the issue again half a dozen years ago. It’s hard to believe she would get the same reception now: as the sexual abuse of girls in
English towns has been revealed in a series of harrowing trials, all this objectification of young women has started to look tacky and dated. An internet campaign calling for Page 3 to be dropped from The Sun collected thousands of signatures in a matter of days, and lads’ mags are faltering. The Page 3 campaign is an example of the way the internet is being used to spread the feminist message, as well as offering new and innovative ways to tackle long-standing problems.

For years, women were told not to over-react when men whistled and cat-called from building sites or in the street, but a website called Hollaback! (ihollaback.org) has shown just how widespread – and annoying – this behaviour is. Something that seems merely anecdotal when it happens to one woman assumes a very different character when it’s
revealed as an element in a pattern of sexual harassment. Another site, The Everyday Sexism Project (everydaysexism.com), encourages women to exchange examples of sexist remarks, once again turning individual anecdotes into evidence of a larger phenomenon. Sexist advertising slogans and jokes about ‘rape’ from stand-up comics can now expect to be circulated very quickly and challenged on sites like Twitter, forcing a change of heart from people who aren’t used to being called to account.

Even before the Savile allegations surfaced, feminists had begun to talk about a ‘conducive context’ in which toleration of ‘minor’ forms of sexism and harassment encourages an atmosphere in which it’s difficult for individuals to complain. The historic
allegations of sexual harassment we’re hearing from the 1970s and 80s certainly fit that pattern, and they’ve posed one of the great feminist questions: if we live in an equal society, why has it been so hard to speak out? And are things any better now? Many young women say they’re not, which is why the SlutWalk movement has taken off in several countries. It’s also striking that after decades of shying away from the F-word, many women of all ages are happy to identify themselves as feminists on websites and Twitter.

If anything good is to come out of Savile’s decades of predation, it may be the very last thing he would have expected: a new feminist agenda, invigorated by the internet. Suddenly it’s possible to talk about all sorts of things – groping, sexist remarks, the relentless sexualisation of under-age girls – which have been sidelined for years as prudish or boring. Young Girl may still be being played on ‘classic’ radio stations where nostalgia trumps common sense, but change is in the air. Even people who haven’t previously thought about it much are having to entertain a startling proposition: feminists, it turns out, have been right all along.

 

Diary Note

On Saturday 20 October, I’m speaking in a debate at Birkbeck College, hosted by the Centre for the Study of British Politics and Public Life: What has Leveson told us? Chaired by Tony Wright, also on the panel: Evan Harris, Lance Price, Peter Dobbie. Starts 2pm.

The Prince Charles letters cover up only makes his views seem weirder

The attorney general was wrong to block release of the prince’s letters – we should know how he tries to influence ministers

The Guardian, Wednesday 17 October 2012

What can we infer from the extraordinary decision by the attorney general to block the disclosure of letters written by Prince Charles to ministers, ordered last month by an information tribunal? They could have an impact on his ability to perform his role as the country’s next king, so we are told – and what does that say about the prince’s judgment? The letters must be so revealing that Dominic Grieve would rather take a massive amount of flak, and put the government in an untenable position, than allow the public to know exactly how the prince tries to influence ministers.

What is the point of the Freedom of Information Act, and all the bodies set up to make sure it works, if this unelected individual is allowed to hide not just his lobbying of elected politicians but the language he uses to do it? Grieve admitted yesterday in the House of Commons that the letters contain the prince’s “particularly frank” and “most deeply held personal views and beliefs”. We have an idea what those might include: the prince has reactionary views on architecture, is keen on homeopathy and has often displayed a woeful incomprehension of science. But I’m now wondering what else he has sounded off on in 27 letters to seven government departments.

Since the letters cover only a seven-month period in 2004 and 2005 – which shows how long the Guardian has been trying to have them published – I’m also wondering how many more of the prince’s wacky opinions are nestling in files and drawers all over Whitehall. The fact that even a tiny fraction of this correspondence is deemed too controversial to be released speaks volumes about the problems this busybody royal has created for ministers.

Grieve’s other admissions to the House are just as astonishing. He conceded that the prince’s letters contain remarks about public affairs which “would potentially have undermined [Charles's] position of political neutrality”. He also stressed the importance of the monarch being able to “engage in confidence with the government of the day, whatever its political colour”. If we can’t be shown the letters, it’s reasonable to assume that they’re not politically neutral. That means Charles has failed in one of the first requirements of a constitutional monarch before he’s even ascended the throne.

It’s now clear that the prince has potentially embarrassing political opinions which he has been rash enough to express in his regular attempts to wield political influence. His advisers know what his political bias is, so do ministers in a series of governments and judges who sit on the information tribunal, but the people who aren’t allowed to know are the very ones that this vain and foolish man intends to rule. There are other important questions about what is being hidden. Has Charles lobbied for specific changes in government policy? If so, was he successful? Has any minister dared to tell him, very politely, to take a running jump?

Imagine this man were running for public office. Imagine he wanted to be an elected head of state, and refused to reveal a long history of using his influence secretly to influence government decisions. The outcry among rival politicians and in the media would be deafening. The very act of opposing disclosure would put an end to his aspirations, which is exactly what should happen in this case. But we, the public, have no recourse. We have no choice about this man becoming head of state and we’re treated like children, not allowed to know about hugely significant matters which clearly disqualify him from performing the role. How can this be, in a democracy?

It’s an iron rule of politics that the cover-up is always worse than the original act that someone desperately wants to hide. The government now finds itself in the curious position of catastrophically undermining the prince while trying to protect him. I can only assume that his views are even weirder and more indefensible than I originally suspected.

 

Diary note

I’m speaking tonight, Monday 15 October, at an even in support of Pussy Riot at the House of Commons. Speakers include Kerry McCarthy MP, Chris Bryant MP, and the co-founder of the Belarus Free Theatre, Natasha Kaliada. Also readings from the women’s closing speeches and poems from English PEN. From 7 to 9pm.

 

Finally, victims of abuse are being taken seriously

Independent on Sunday, 14 October 2012

It’s the kind of shift that happens once or twice in a lifetime. In the past few days, people who hadn’t previously thought about it have suddenly realised that “a bit of harmless fun” might actually be a nasty sexual assault. About time, too: what kind of culture makes a household name out of a creepy child-abuser who didn’t even hide his predilections? Jimmy Savile was knighted by Margaret Thatcher and given a Papal knighthood by John Paul II. Now he’s the catalyst for a sea-change in public attitudes towards verbal harassment, unwanted touching and worse.

Just about every conversation I’ve had with women friends last week has produced an outpouring of angry recollections. One friend, now in her eighties, recalls being sexually assaulted by a dentist who treated her when she was a teenager. I’ve hardly met a woman who hasn’t experienced these things, but for years we were told we didn’t have a sense of humour or had imagined it.

Why did feminism take off with so much anger and energy in the 1970s? It was because a generation of young women strode into offices and colleges, expecting to be regarded as equals, and couldn’t believe the way we were treated. I’m talking about a spectrum of behaviour from sexually explicit remarks to physical assaults. A chasm opened up between what women experienced and assurances from authority figures – bosses, police, politicians – that such things were rare.

It was infuriating to see popular newspapers campaigning about rape not because so many offenders were going unpunished, but because of supposedly “unfounded” accusations. The Soham murderer, Ian Huntley, and the black-cab rapist, John Worboys, were beneficiaries of the notion that “ordinary” men weren’t sexual predators. The News of the World boasted about its campaign against paedophiles, but the men it went after were easy targets, convicted sex offenders living on council estates, not national figures.

Now a series of events has up-ended popular assumptions about what is acceptable. Accusations against Savile are piling up so fast that it’s hard to keep track, and a picture is emerging of a pop culture where DJs such as John Peel saw sex with girls as a perk of the job. The Rochdale case, in which a group of men preyed on underage girls and forced them into prostitution, shows there’s nothing historical about child abuse. Then there’s the curious case of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, whose refusal to return to Sweden to face possible charges of sexual assault has exposed bizarre notions among his supporters of what constitutes rape.

I don’t think anyone can plausibly claim any more that sexual harassment is rare or that potential victims, including teenage boys, are sufficiently protected. So many institutions have questions to answer that the case for a public inquiry grows by the day. I don’t believe all men are predators, but I want to see much tougher attitudes towards the ones who are.

 

 

Predators were a grim fact of office life

The Independent, Tuesday 9 October 2012

It’s hard to explain how normal it was – we learned ways of protecting ourselves and others without jeopardising our careers

You’re in your twenties, driving home from a meeting on a winter night with a much older colleague. Suddenly, he suggests pulling into a layby to have sex with you. You’re aghast but you stay calm and tell him to keep driving. Do you complain to your boss? The man is senior to you and has been at the company for years. Complain to your union? He’s a union official.

A couple of senior executives take a group of you out to lunch. Afterwards, you go back to someone’s flat and the next thing you know, one of the executives has his tongue in your mouth and his hand between your legs. You fight him off. A few days later, you hear that people are joking about it behind your back.

These are not theoretical examples of sexual harassment. They happened to me during my first few years in journalism, but it wasn’t something that happened only in the media. The multiplying accusations against Jimmy Savile have put the BBC under a spotlight – because Savile was famous and DJs were regarded as untouchable – of a problem that existed in offices and factories up and down the country. A friend of mine recalls sexual harassment as an “industrial hazard” of the period.

It’s not difficult to work out why it was so widespread. In the 1970s and 80s, young women were a minority in offices and there was an attitude that you had to “prove” yourself: can’t you take a joke? Some of it was opportunist – bored middle-aged men suddenly found themselves working alongside smart young women – and some of it, I’m sure, was about a dominant group teaching outsiders their place.

Decades later, it’s hard to explain how normal all this was. We learned ways of dealing with it, how to protect ourselves and each other without jeopardising our careers. In one newspaper office, I found that the secretaries and researchers, who were all women, had an informal network which they used to warn each other about particularly predatory men.

It was a culture of impunity, which is what Savile’s behaviour appears to have exposed at the BBC. It began to change for two reasons: growing numbers of women in the workforce, which meant we could no longer be regarded as interlopers, and a feminist critique which gave victims a language. Pinning a woman across a desk in an empty office and kissing her – yes, that happened to me as well – takes on a new complexion when she springs up and names it as harassment.

Victims need bosses who understand that, far from being a joke, such matters are disciplinary offences. Women are more likely to be targeted but it shouldn’t happen to anyone. As someone who’s experienced it, I can assure you there’s nothing funny about sexual harassment.

 

Rolling news devours everything in its path

The horrific French Alps murder case was everywhere in the news, and now we don’t hear about it.

Independent on Sunday, 7 October 2012

It’s a month since an Iraqi-born British man, his wife and mother-in-law were murdered in the French Alps, and one of his daughters seriously injured. The case attracted huge publicity and prompted many theories, each more improbable than the next, until it suddenly dropped out of the headlines. In a barely noticed development last week, the chief prosecutor acknowledged that there’s no hope of finding the perpetrator “in the near future”.

Last week, hundreds of people turned out to join the search for April Jones, the five-year-old girl who was abducted in west Wales on Monday evening. April’s abduction attracted as much, if not more, attention as the attack on the al-Hilli family. Such cases generate huge public interest, which is helpful to the police if it encourages witnesses to come forward, but often there’s nothing new to report. A local man was arrested on suspicion of abduction the following day but after that there were no developments until Friday, when detectives announced the case was now a murder inquiry.

There is an option here, which is turning away the cameras until there’s a genuine development, but it’s gone out of fashion. In this instance, the spectacle of TV correspondents roaming a Welsh town in desperate search of someone to interview would have been comical if it hadn’t been caused by such a tragic event. There were endless shots of police officers in Machynlleth, with a running commentary from “experts” whose task was to explain what the cops were doing. They’re knocking on doors! They want to speak to the people inside! They’re searching an allotment – with  sticks!

Profiles of the arrested man were published, revealing details of his life in a way that recalled the treatment of Chris Jefferies, the Bristol landlord mistakenly arrested in connection with the murder of Joanna Yeates. Then disaster struck Sky News presenter Kay Burley, who inadvertently broke the news that the investigation had become a murder inquiry to two local people live on air. One of them broke down on camera and Burley didn’t think quickly enough to stop the interview there and then. It was excruciating to watch and caused a storm on Twitter, where the Labour MP Tom Watson condemned Burley’s behaviour as “insensitive bordering on cruel”.

The real culprit here is the ravening appetite of the 24-hour news cycle. It gobbles up people and subjects, demanding endless updates when nothing is happening. One of its effects is to create rescue fantasies, leading onlookers to over-estimate their ability to influence the outcome of a search. Its impact on families has been rehearsed at the Leveson inquiry, which heard how the McCanns were affected by the insatiable demand for new stories after their daughter Madeleine was snatched. But another aspect of all this is how quickly, in some cases, the caravan moves on. A month later, who even remembers the names of the two little girls orphaned in that terrible massacre in the Alps?

 

The Bat by Jo Nesbo

Finally published in English, the first Harry Hole novel explains a lot about the series hero

The Sunday Times, 7 October 2012

Harvill Secker £18.99, translated by Don Bartlett

It did not take long for Jo Nesbo’s embittered Norwegian detective, Harry Hole, to become one of the best-known characters in contemporary crime fiction. Nesbo’s breakthrough novel, The Snowman (the seventh book in the series, which has been published out of chronological order in this country), was published in English only two years ago, introducing Hole to an international audience for the first time. Although it showed him almost losing the woman he loved to a serial killer, his dark side was evident before that gut-wrenching episode. What has never been entirely clear is why Hole has such an angry, depressive streak. The answer turns out to lie in this, the first novel in the series.

The Bat appeared in Norway in 1997, and it’s a fascinating book, filling in the gaps in  Hole’s biography and telling the story of the murder case in ­Australia that cemented his
reputation as a brilliant investigator. Hole’s irony, his resistance to authority and his sudden hunches are all present, but there’s an openness to experience that seldom surfaces in the later books.

At the beginning of the novel, Hole has just arrived in Sydney to help the Australian police with their investigation into the rape and murder of a young Norwegian woman. Assigned to show him round is a black detective, Andrew Kensington, who confounds many of Hole’s preconceptions about Australia. Kensington is an Aboriginal, a walking compendium of myths who teases and instructs his ­Norwegian visitor at the same time. His greeting at the airport — “Mr Holy, I presume” — allows Nesbo to embark on a running joke about how his detective’s name is pronounced. (It’s Hoo-leh, for those who don’t already know.)

The woman’s body was found by fishermen among rocks in Watson’s Bay, and most of the evidence had been washed away by the time detectives got to her. All they know is that she was 23, had blonde hair and disappeared after leaving the bar where she worked. Kensington takes Hole to meet key witnesses, but he also takes him to some less obvious places, including a ­circus where he introduces him to a transvestite clown. It is only much later in the case that Hole begins to wonder why the Australian detective has taken him on so many detours, and by then it’s too late to ask.

When British readers were first introduced to Hole, he’d already met the love of his life in Oslo and begun the relationship whose loss shapes the course of his life. All of that is in the future in The Bat. Hole is drawn instead to a striking Swedish redhead who works in the same bar as the murder victim. Hole’s clumsiness with women is almost charming, and Nesbo hints that a previous relationship in Norway has made him wary of emotional involvement. But ­Birgitta has an emotional maturity that suggests they might be able to form an enduring bond.

When the investigation leads Hole to the belief that the murderer is a serial killer targeting young blonde women across Australia, he also starts to suspect it’s someone he knows. The pace speeds up, revealing the ­single-minded, driven character familiar from the later novels; the leisurely narrative of the early chapters is shoved aside as Hole struggles to identify the killer and save another life. It becomes clear that his sense of guilt from the case (which is both a professional triumph and a private tragedy) drives much of what happens in the later books, including the desperate decision he takes in the recently published Phantom. It is a stunning opening to the series.

 

How did an ethical issue become a political one?

The Independent, Thursday 4 October 2012

There is no obvious reason why so many Conservative MPs should be committed to restricting access to abortion. But they are, and there have been numerous attempts by Tory backbenchers to weaken the 1967 Abortion Act. In recent years, Nadine Dorries and Ann Winterton have been the standard-bearers in a campaign which goes back to 1977, when William Benyon introduced a Bill that would have significantly undermined the 10-year-old Act.

Since the 1967 Act was introduced, abortion has been a largely party-political matter, with Tory MPs using a series of legislative devices to try to limit abortion rights. For a party that claims to be keen on personal freedom, Tory backbenchers have always been remarkably keen to interfere in women’s private lives.

In fact, it’s perfectly possible to imagine a libertarian case for allowing adult women to make up their own minds. Telling women they shouldn’t have abortions should sit uneasily with right-wing notions of minimal state interference, but the Tories have never resolved their wider conflicts about gender. Right-wing rhetoric about “family values”  usually ends up infantilising women, telling them what’s good for them instead of asking what they want.

What’s different now is that the movement to restrict access to abortion has shifted from the back benches into the Cabinet. Maria Miller, the minister for Women and Equalities, has barely begun the job before giving an interview calling for the upper time limit to be
reduced. Jeremy Hunt has been promoted to Health Secretary and his voting record suggests he’s even keener to reduce the limit.

If this signals the arrival of US-style abortion wars in British politics, it’s very bad news. Religion plays a much greater role in American political life, and opponents of abortion there are massed on the religious right. Mitt Romney has opposed offering emergency  contraception to rape victims, and his vice-presidential running mate, Paul Ryan, is against abortion even in cases of rape and incest. David Cameron must realise British women won’t allow their rights to be eroded without a fight.