The most prominent cheerleader for the legalisation of assisted suicide has admitted that he believes the real reason the law needs changing is to help people who cannot tolerate the idea of losing their independence.Lord Falconer, who for several years has led failed parliamentary attempts to secure legislation, said the law needed to be changed because a small number of people found it “intolerable” to have to rely on other people.His “discriminatory” comments came as a Labour MP announced a fresh bid to introduce laws legalising assisted suicide, this time through a private members’ bill in the House of Commons.Lord Falconer, a Labour peer, told the BBC’s The Daily Politics (42.50 onwards): “The work that has been done in relation to this shows generally it is not the pain, it is not the fact that you can’t relieve pain – that can be dealt with – it is the sense of people losing their independence and being reliant on other people, and there’s a small number of people who whatever you do would find that an intolerable position to be in.”He had been responding to concerns raised on the programme by the disabled campaigner Agnes Fletcher, a former director of policy and communications at the Disability Rights Commission and now director of the thinktank Living and Dying Well.She had told the programme that the recent case of Jeffrey Spector – who killed himself at the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland, six years after he was diagnosed with an inoperable tumour growing near his spinal column – was an example of someone who was “afraid not of dying but of living for a long time with serious disability”.Fletcher said: “He talked very much about his reasons being not wanting to be a burden on his family and thinking that his death was in the best interests of his family.“Those are very worrying reasons and I think lots of older and disabled people watching that case last week will have also felt a burden and also felt perhaps it was time for them to opt for suicide.”Lord Falconer’s comments in response to Fletcher horrified disabled campaigners fighting moves to legalise assisted suicide, including the crossbench disabled peer Baroness [Jane] Campbell, who said his views were “discriminatory”.She said: “I think this indicates what I have always feared. Lord Falconer and others who are campaigning for assisted suicide legislation think it’s reasonable that people who are severely incapacitated should end their lives at the time of their choosing.“They think this because they view progressive disabling conditions as something intolerable, which cannot be improved no matter what remedies are put in place or offered.“These discriminatory views are endemic within society and we must fight them all the way. Life doesn’t stop when you become severely disabled.”Dignity in Dying (DiD), the charity leading the campaign to legalise assisted suicide, said: “As well as people who would want the option of assisted dying in case their suffering became too much, we know from Oregon that the top reason cited for having an assisted death is the loss of autonomy, which rightly is determined by the dying patient.“Whether it’s pain, concern of a painful death, or the loss of autonomy, it is right that dying people have the choice in how they die.”A DiD spokesman later confirmed that the charity agreed with Lord Falconer’s comments on The Daily Politics.Meanwhile, Labour MP Rob Marris has announced that he will introduce a private members’ bill that aims to legalise assisted suicide.Marris came top of the ballot that decides which private members’ bills are allocated Commons time. His bill – identical to Lord Falconer’s – is set to be debated by MPs on 11 September.Lord Falconer’s bill ran out of time after it reached the committee stage in the Lords before the general election, and although he has re-introduced his bill in the Lords, he was not placed highly enough in a ballot of peers for his proposals to make any progress in this session.
Labour has announced two appointments to its frontbench team today.Karin Smyth, MP for Bristol South since 2015, has been appointed shadow minister for Northern Ireland. She is already shadow deputy leader of the House of Commons.Smyth supported Owen Smith in the 2016 leadership election and until July 2017 served as Keir Starmer’s parliamentary private secretary (PPS). She has a solid majority of 15,987.Luke Pollard, MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, has been appointed shadow minister for flooding and coastal communities while Holly Lynch is on maternity leave. He already serves as shadow Defra secretary Sue Hayman’s PPS.Pollard, who represents a coastal community himself, became an MP last year when the marginal Plymouth constituency turned red for the first time. His was one of 30 net gains for Labour in the snap election. Pollard has a majority of 6,807 votes.Tags:Labour Party /Labour /Luke Pollard /Karin Smyth /
THE Lancashire Hotpots will be performing before this Friday’s Stobart Super League clash with Widnes Vikings.It is part of the Big Brew Up Event @ Langtree Park, which is being held in association with Wish FM and Saints shirt sponsors Typhoo Tea.Currently in the studio recording their sixth album, the band perform an exclusive “Typhoo” version of their classic “Mek Us A Brew” along with new tracks taken from their forthcoming summer album “A Hard Day’s Pint”.Also making an appearance on the day will be the Typhoo ladies, complete with aprons and hair-rollers, giving away free tea samples for what is sure to be a fantastic fun filled family sporting event.Kick-off is 8pm with The Lancashire Hotpots on stage at 7.40pm.Tickets are priced from £5 for juniors, £12.50 for concessions and £18.50 for adults if bought in advance of match day from www.saintssuperstore.com, direct from the ticket office at Langtree Park or by calling 01744 455052.
RUGBY League World Cup 2013 has announced that Martin Offiah MBE will be an official ambassador for the tournament which kicks off on October 26 at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.Offiah, known to many as ‘Chariots’, will play a key role in promoting the game, especially in London ahead of the RLWC2013 semi-final double-header at Wembley Stadium.Martin Offiah said: “I’m really excited to be on board with RLWC2013 and eager to do what I can to ensure the British public know this is the next major international sporting competition in this country after London 2012 and an event not to be missed.“There will be some really exciting matches at RLWC2013 including a double-header featuring England v Australia and Wales v Italy with the opening ceremony at the Millennium Stadium; a semi-final double-header at Wembley and the showpiece event, the Rugby League World Cup final, taking place at Old Trafford.“Tickets to the tournament are extremely well priced with 55% £20 or less, so it really is a great opportunity to see some extraordinary athletes going head to head in their pursuit for glory.”He added: “I can’t wait for RLWC2013 to start and I genuinely believe England have a realistic chance of winning.”RLWC2013 General Manager, Sally Bolton, said: “Martin is one of the game’s great players and to have him supporting RLWC2013 is fantastic news for us.“As a recognisable figure even outside Rugby League, he can help take the sport to a new audience. Our aim is to put on the biggest and best Rugby League World Cup ever and we are confident we can do that.”Martin Offiah joins Gareth Thomas as an official ambassador for RLWC2013 which kicks off on October 26. For more information and to purchase tickets visit rlwc2013.com