Sir Christopher Chope is the sitting Conservative MP for Christchurch since 1997. A qualified barrister, Chope was inexplicably bestowed a knighthood for “political and public service”. In many ways, Chope is a fairly run of the mill (although of the type that is becoming less common) Conservative backbench MP. He’s socially conservative, voting consistently against equal gay rights and assisted suicide and favouring British military intervention abroad. Granted, some people may be appalled by his views, but they don’t grab headlines.
Blocking Private Bills
What has been grabbing headlines is his continued blocking of private members bills that have aimed to make women safer and provide an assortment of other benefits to society. He has blocked a mishmash of “well-meaning but flabby” bills including one banning wild animals in circuses; another that would have granted a pardon to Alan Turing; one that would have given extra legal protection to police dogs and horses; and notoriously a bill that made up-skirting a specific offence.
Under parliamentary rules a private members bill can see its progress blocked if just a single MP shouts “object”. A privilege that Sir Christopher uses frequently. He claims that these bills have not received sufficient scrutiny and objects in principle to new legislation being brought before “a poorly attended Friday session”. He claims to be a defender of democracy, yet his position is indefensible. Zac Goldsmith has pointed out that “once again he did not object to those [private members bills] put forward by his friends”.
Victims of Female Genital Mutilation
Last week Chope objected to a bill that would have increased the protective power of courts over girls at risk of Female Genital Mutiliation. An English court has recently distributed the UK’s first conviction of FGM to a Ugandan mother. She could face a “lengthy” jail term.
It should be noted to some of the legislation that Chose makes a “principled” point of stopping does become law. The government has pressed ahead with the up-skirting law, which now only awaits Royal Assent whilst Alan Turing was pardoned using the Royal Prerogative of Mercy.
When Christopher Chope does leave parliament he will leave behind a callous legacy of harming those in the greatest need of protection. Intent on protecting the strong from the weak, he gives the Conservative party a poor reputation. His latest actions have resulted in a meeting of his local Conservative association in which he has been asked to explain his actions.