Empathy is an absolutely crucial part of the political picture. Take the Coalition's spending cuts. It's easy to see a policy in terms of numbers and strategies. It isn't until you seem the damage they have wrought up close that the human element begins to loom into focus.
Partly Political Broadcast is a new, hopefully weekly project between me and excellent filmmaker Ben Hilton. It's a short of burst of comedy, with pointed views about the week's goings ons, which we decided we should do because, well, no one else was.
2012 has certainly been an eventful year. For many in Britain, sporting glory will be the enduring memory of all that has passed. For others, it will be the spectacle of the Royal family, through times of both celebration and of controversy. For me, however, it is the continued apathy of the British population towards politics that has defined 2012.
As a citizen of a country that has been ridden with MP money scandals for the past few years, the last thing voters want to see is a politician making an income through doing something other than their day job. When Nadine Dorries was rightly suspended from the Conservative Party last week, I was cheering as loud as when I found out Obama was re-elected for presidency that following morning.
I care about making spaces safe online for women so, whilst I will never support the policies of Dorries and Mensch, I do think we need to stop belittling and denigrating them. It is possible to criticise their policies without making it personal and supporting the patriarchy in silencing women. That is what we do when we fall into denigrating women. We are effectively helping to silence other women's voices. Instead, we need to reclaim the Internet and make it the most subversive weapon we have against the patriarchy.
I agree that MPs should go where the people are in order to get a better understanding of what is happening out here in the real world but, rather than trying to get to her constituents by spouting a message whilst chewing on a crocodile's severed member, she would be better going down to her local boozer and meeting up with real people to find out just what they need from her party.
It cannot be repeated enough that there has been no new medical evidence to suggest any scientific or medical reason for a reduction in the abortion time limit since this was last debated in the House of Commons in May 2008. This debate isn't being reopened because of any new medical evidence or the current figures on abortion, but because of a toxic, politicisation of the issue by elements within the Conservative Party. It is happening because Jeremy Hunt's gratuitous attack on British women's right to choose has opened the door to parts of the Tory party to begin unwanted and distracting wrangling in parliament to reduce the time limits.
The energy spent discussing abortion time limits detracts time and attention from genuine problems in women's reproductive healthcare. Were the MP for mid-Bedfordshire really as 'pro-woman' as she claims, here are some of the themes she could be tackling which affect women across the spectrum of reproductive needs. For example, some 40% of women using BPAS' contraceptive counselling service following an unplanned pregnancy report problems accessing contraception.
This is a government which is supporting, for apparently no justifiable medical reason, an erosion of women's choices when it comes to how and when we have children.
Those of us on the left who were sceptical of the coalition must concede at least one thing: they are certainly efficient.
Lazy clichés, as a general rule, are best avoided by political hacks and commentators. Yet the likening of the current coalition government to a marriage has been a constant theme for analysts of all creeds in the last two years, and it has never resonated quite as strongly as it did at the end of this parliamentary session.
According to opponents of gay marriage, it is a measure that only attracts support amongst the "metropolitan elite" - according to their analysis once you step outside of Hampstead or Soho , support for equal marriage simply withers away. Former Defence Secretary, Dr Liam Fox was the latest political figure to use this argument, suggested that the Government's proposals for gay marriage represented "social engineering" on the part of a "metropolitan elite." The only trouble is that, in the case of gay marriage, it simply isn't true.
No one will be surprised that the Queen's Speech did not contain a commitment to equal marriage... What is more significant about this episode though is that it does give some indication of what grassroots Tories really think.
A woman's right to choose whether or not to have a child is preserved by nothing more stringent than a gentleman's agreement. The problem with gentlemen's agreements is that they don't necessarily serve women. It's time for an urgent change in the law.
The Catholic magazine The Tablet is reporting today that the government is about to bend to religious pressure and change the terms of the consultation on same-sex marriage to include a question about whether such a move is desirable at all.
What's worse than discovering that your teenager, in a demonstration of maturity and autonomous self-determination, received confidential contraceptive treatment? Two spotty faces looking at you earnestly telling you they're going to have a baby, that's what.