The Liberal Democrats have deselected former Stoke-on-Trent South MP, Rob Fello, over his wrong ‘values’ just 36 hours after his candidacy was announced.
The former Labour MP represented the people of Stoke South for 12 years.
During his time in Parliament, Mr Flello voted to give woman considering abortion a legal right to independent counselling from a source that has no financial interest in her decision and supported an amendment to ban sex-selective abortion. He also voted against introducing assisted suicide and a bill that would have introduced abortion for any reason up to birth in the UK.
Polling from BBC pollster ComRes shows that the vast majority of women agree with Mr Flello on his positions on abortion and that these are not fringe positions to take.
The polling, which was one of the most extensive UK polls done on abortion, shows that 91% of women agree that gender-selective abortion should be explicitly banned by the law and 93% of women agree that a woman considering abortion should have a legal right to independent counselling from a source that has no financial interest in her decision. Only 1% support of women support introducing abortion up to birth. The polling also showed similarly strong support for these positions from Liberal Democrat voters.
330 MPs joined Rob Flello in opposing a Bill to introduce assisted suicide, many of whom were Liberal Democrat MPs. Only 118 MPs supported that Bill which was voted down at second reading.
Mr Flello is also well known for his extensive work on animal welfare.
Mr Flello, the owner of rescued german shepherd dog Diesel, introduced a parliamentary debate which backed the creation of a Code of Practice for dog breeding to strengthen the Animal Welfare Act and has called for action to stop an annual dog meat festival in south-west China. He also chaired the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Dog Welfare
During his time in Parliament, Mr Flello was also a shadow minister for Justice and chaired both the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Adult and Childhood Obesity. He has also held positions on the Science and Technology Select Committee and the Transport Select Committee, among others.
Before becoming an MP, Mr Flello was the chief executive officer for a charity that supports parents, carers, young people and professionals in schools through a range of counselling.
The Liberal Democrats intolerance of pro-life views is not likely to go down well in London target seats where they are expecting to get their most gains. Recent polling shows that over 41% of Londoners believe abortion should be illegal in almost all circumstances. This is more than 10% higher than the nation as a whole of which 31% agreed with the statement.
A Liberal Democrat spokesman said:
“We do our best to screen candidates in our approval process. In this case it only became clear over the past few days how greatly his values diverge from ours.”
Rob Flello said the following in a statement:
“I feel utterly misled by the Lib Dem Party who claim in their constitution to acknowledge and respect the right to freedom of conscience.
Not only do I feel betrayed by the false promises of the Lib Dems but I am profoundly concerned that people of faith who adhere to their religious beliefs are not welcome in their Party.”
Right To Life UK spokesperson Catherine Robinson said:
“We are now calling on the Liberal Democrats to declare whether there is a place for candidates who oppose sex-selective abortion and abortion up to birth in their party? How many LibDem MPs who voted with Rob Flello to oppose abortion up to birth and ban sex-selective abortion will be deselected for their wrong ‘values? These are not fringe viewpoints. These are views that polling shows the vast majority of the public and the vast majority of Liberal Democrat voters hold.”
In 1992, Lord David Alton announced that he would not stand again as a Liberal Democrat candidate following the party’s decision to make abortion a policy issue rather than a matter of conscience. Lord Alton, who has spent over 40 years tirelessly championing the pro-life cause in parliament, was the youngest Member of Parliament, aged 28, when he was elected for the Liberal Party in 1979.