Call Clegg: Nick condemns morning after pill critics as misogynist, medieval and insulting to women

call cleggI do love it when Nick gets all cross about things. He’s always been pretty open about his views but at times can come across almost too careful. Those occasions when he just lets rip are so good.

This morning, he did not mince his words about those “experts” (sorry for the Daily Mail link, but who they count as experts is really funny) who think that giving women access to the morning after pill will fuel promiscuity. It took me about 4 tweets to get it all in – misogynist, insulting, medieval, Victorian, sexist, demeaning. He also got in a strong message about how education lowers the teenage pregnancy rate. Here’s the whole thing:

I’m absolutely appalled, and in fact really quite angry, on behalf of many, many women across the country about this suggestion that giving a woman the right to buy the morning-after pill will somehow automatically lead to more promiscuous behaviour. I think it’s demeaning, I think it’s patronising, I think it’s sexist. It’s quite astonishing. Women don’t take the morning after pill lightly,

To say to a woman she cannot have the right, in case she has unprotected sex, to have the morning-after pill available to her, and to say you cannot possibly have that right because we – whoever’s we, the government, society, or whichever newspaper is pontificating about this – think you will suddenly become terribly promiscuous, is an absolute insult to women across the country …

This is lifting the lid on a really fundamental difference in attitude towards women. Women shouldn’t be told we are not going to give you the freedom to buy something from a chemist because you think you might need it, because otherwise we don’t trust how you will behave sexually. It’s a Victorian, worse than that, it’s a medieval approach to women. That’s why I’m as angry as I am on behalf of women.

He also got the chance to take on Nigel Farage on his outrageous claim that right at the end of last night’s debate that the EU had blood on its hands over Ukraine. He said he was shocked that Farage agreed with Vladimir Putin, adding that it was insulting to those who had protested in Kiev for values “we all share.”

Someone asked him about the news that sharia compliant wills are to be allowed. Nick’s firm retort was that if you want a sharia compliant will that’s up to you, but “we aren’t changing the law.” You couldn’t have exceptions for specific communities because we all need to be equal before the law.

I found it difficult to find any sympathy with the rich person who complained they’d have to sell their house to pay council tax. Nick explained to him how the system would actually work, how he would only pay tax on the value above £2 million and the caller seemed mollified. However, Nick did add in that it was really unfair that a family in Lewisham paid the same in Council tax for their family home as an oligarch in a Kensington mansion It’s that fairer society thing, again, isn’t it?

The week’s daft question was devoted to Arsene Wenger. Nick said he had been sighing with sorrow, but he was a Wenger fan and he should say. Nick Ferrari said “that’s him gone, then.”

You can read my Storify thingy about the event here where you can see what Nick had to say about the leaders’ debates next year.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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17 Comments

  • really good stuff on equality and respect for women from Nick. Farage may have half a point on Ukraine, but regarding USA interference (see leaked phone call between US Asst Sec of State Nuland and the US Ambassador to Ukraine), but not against the EU, which played a mostly constructive role in the run-up to the Kievan revolution. But Nick is right on tax and fairness. I think, however, we should give him less rope than Arsenal have given Wenger, enlightened new man or not… If you don’t win, you’re out, Nick! 🙂

  • I completely misunderstood this as I thought the point was that under-age girls should not be able to have the Morning after pill from chemists. A lot if people would be uncomfortable about this, for a variety of reasons.

  • Ok, I’m even more confused as women can already buy the morning after pill fromA chemist. Is the point that some people think that this makes women more promiscuous? Let them! You’ll never stop them thinking that and in the case of some women it may actually be true! So what? Live and let live! (As long as we’re not talking about underage girls) .

  • “Someone asked him about the news that sharia compliant wills are to be allowed.”

    It’s not that sharia-compliant wills are “to be allowed” – they always have been allowed. It’s that the Law Society has issued some guidelines for solicitors to use if someone says s/he wants one.

  • The question about the morning-after pills is whether women should be allowed to buy it in advance, in case they have unprotected sex. They can’t routinely do that at the moment.

  • Ah I see, it’s about ‘stockpiling’. Well surely no-one would stockpile the morning after pill unless they were intending to use it for contraception? I don’t see how anyone would support stockpiling emergency contraception, antibiotics, painkillers or any other medication. They’d be out of date before you might need to use them, wasting NHS resources. As it happens, huge amounts of money are wasted every year by people stockpiling medication according to our GP Surgery posters. I’m sorry but I think this is a non-story. If people need emergency contraception, you can get it very easily at chemists seven days a week.

  • Matthew Huntbach 27th Mar '14 - 2:22pm


    I found it difficult to find any sympathy with the rich person who complained they’d have to sell their house to pay council tax. Nick explained to him how the system would actually work, how he would only pay tax on the value above £2 million and the caller seemed mollified.

    The better answer to this is that if there is a substantial increase in property tax, as I believe there should be, a system whereby it may be paid by equity withdrawal should be introduced. In that way, no-one would have to sell their homes to pay the tax. Rent on that portion owned by the state would need to be paid, it too could done through equity withdrawal, and Housing Benefit would be claimable. If the heirs to the property have need for it because they live there, it would be in their interest to pay the tax, it would be a lot cheaper than the mortgage those who don’t have inherited property to live in must pay. If they don’t need it, well, no tears, they aren’t losing their home.

  • Matthew Huntbach 27th Mar '14 - 2:41pm


    He also got the chance to take on Nigel Farage on his outrageous claim that right at the end of last night’s debate that the EU had blood on its hands over Ukraine. He said he was shocked that Farage agreed with Vladimir Putin, adding that it was insulting to those who had protested in Kiev for values “we all share.”

    Sorry, the elected government of the Ukraine was overthrown, and replaced by one that has not been elected. It is clear there are a substantial number of people in Ukraine who are unhappy about this, and a substantial number of people in the Ukraine, or at least parts of it, who would prefer to be part of Russia rather than part of a Ukraine which has severed links with Russia.

    The fact that the referendum in Crimea was not fairly done, and people there were presented with biased information does not cancel that out completely – there may not be as overwhelming support for unity with Russia as the referendum suggested, but it seems reasonably clear to me that it’s not the case that there is none. And given the enormous right-wing bias of the press in this country and the effect that has on public opinion, I don’t think we are in quite so strong a position to criticise the bias of media coverage over there as we could be.

    In short, I don’t think it is as clear cut an issue as suggested in these comments, and therefore there IS room for people arguing on both sides. If it is “outrageous” to take an extreme position one side, as Farage seems to have done, it is equally as outrageous to take an extreme position on the other as Clegg is doing.

  • He is right to be angry about the morning after pill issue and good on him for making clear his strength of feeling.

    Phyllis – yes, it is intended for contraception, what else would it be used for?! The whole point is that accidents or unplanned events may happen and having it to hand already may be easier for some people than trying to find a pharmacy that is open during a time of stress.

    And most people do stockpile a few medicines – ibuprofen in the bedside draw for the occasional hangover anyone?

  • Mr Huntbach is mistaken. It was the President of Ukraine who was overthrown, after first abusing his powers, then departing his post, then fleeing the country. The *government* of the Ukraine is supported by Ukraine’s parliament, the democratically elected Verkhovna Rada. It is also an interim government which will only serve until the national elections in May. The line of argument which treats the entire democratic legitimacy of Ukrainian government as inhering in a single man is bizarre.

  • “yes, it is intended for contraception, what else would it be used for?! The whole point is that accidents or unplanned events may happen and having it to hand already may be easier for some people than trying to find a pharmacy that is open during a time of stress.”

    Ok, but that is not its intended purpose. There are very many methods of contraception but the best one is the condom because it has no side-effects and also prevents the majority of STDs. The morning after pill is intended to e used for those times when the condom breaks. There are many side effects to the morning after pill which is not meant to be used routinely. And think how convenient ‘stockpiling’ would be to those sex gangs grooming young girls in Richdale and other places. The guys raping them don’t need to worry about condoms or whether they are on the pill. Just get supplies of the morning after pill. I think stockpiling a powerful prescription-only drug is a bit different to having a few paracetamol in your bathroom cabinet and you are prevented from buying too many if those at any one time. No one has stockpiles f antibiotics do they???

    I really hope you have hangovers more often than you have unprotected sex.

    However back to my main concern – this is once again putting all the onus on the women to take care of ‘ accidents’ – why not shift the emphasis to say ‘morning after pill has its uses but condoms will always be the best form of contraception as also they prevent STDs – which are massively on the rise amongst young people?

  • “The whole point is that accidents or unplanned events may happen and having it to hand already may be easier for some people than trying to find a pharmacy that is open during a time of stress.”

    Ok just read this again. I’m afraid that if you have a supply if morning after pills in the drawer the temptation may be not to bother with the condom. Young girls are under a lot if pressure to do all sorts if things. and even without being pressurised, i can imagine either partner thinking ” what the hell we have those pills, she can just take one if those afterwards” . Whereas if it is kept as an EMERGENCY contraception, that does bring home the fact that women are not supposed to be using these pills to avoid other forms of contraception. And you don’t need to hunt down a chemist – sainsburys and tesco have pharmacies which are open early in the morning and late at night, not to mention Boots. They are all even open on a Sunday. It’s really not that hard, honest.

  • A Social Liberal 27th Mar '14 - 6:27pm

    Mathew Huntbach

    In your post you give some facts but ignore others which are still as salient. For example yes, the president was forced out, but you forget to say that he was elected on a ticket of closer ties with the EU. The people became enraged when, after a heart to heart with – yes, you’ve guessed it – our Vlad and just hours before he was to sign the accord, Yanukovych annonced that he was abandoning the accord and instead would take the Ukraine closer to Russia. Yes, Yanukovych was forced out but it wasn’t the protesters which ousted him, they were just a catalyst. The Ukrainian parliament voted him out of office.

    With regards to the referendum, it wasn’t just unfair, it wasn’t just that the presentation was skewed – it was illegal. The Ukraine has it in law that if a referendum is held then it must be open to ALL the voters of the Ukraine. It also has to be set up by the countries government and not a regional parliament..

    I apologise to posters about repeating what is well known, but I could not allow information which did not accurately reflect the actuality to go unchallenged.

  • Matthew Huntbach 27th Mar '14 - 9:52pm

    David-1 and A Social Liberal

    You have missed my point. I agree that the balance is against Yanukovych, I don’t disagree with a lot of what you say. What I am pointing out, however, is that there are arguments on both sides. It doesn’t seem to me that the case is so overwhelming that anyone who takes the other side should be dismissed in the way Clegg dismissed Farage on this issue – and elsewhere you will see I am certainly not a fan of Farage. I would hope that a liberal would be able to accept someone who holds differing opinions, which Clegg is not doing here. Farage, after all, believes the EU is a thoroughly bad thing, so it is hardly surprising that he has less sympathy with the pro-EU side here than most of us.

  • Shirley Campbell 28th Mar '14 - 2:28am

    Sorry, but prevention has always been and always will be better than cure. Sorry, but that is how the antiquated see it.

  • Shirley Campbell 28th Mar '14 - 9:54am

    Yes, Phyllis, the condom is and always has been the most effective barrier against unwanted inseminations and unwanted sexual diseases but don’t tell the “boys”.

  • Thanks Shirley, I was beginning to think I was a lone voice!

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