New Internationalist has a terrific interview with Kate Smurthwaite. I’ll just give you a couple of highlights to make you want to read the whole thing.
If you could banish one person from the earth, who would it be and why?
No-one, that’s too cruel a punishment. Really that’s the death penalty, in a way. I don’t think harsh punishments achieve anything. We should be rehabilitating people. Rupert Murdoch would make a lovely gardener. Jeremy Clarkson could drive a Meals On Wheels van. Katie Hopkins could teach spin classes. [Prime Minister David] Cameron and [Chancellor of the Exchequer George] Osbourne could pick up litter. Although that might lead to a massive rise in people dropping bags of their own faeces as litter.
Rehabilitation; good plan. George Bush could work in a chicken-processing plant. Dick Cheney could pick cotton.
Which is most nerve-wracking: stand-up comedy or appearing on ‘Question Time’?
Neither. I love my job. I’ve been doing stand-up far too long to remember what pre-show nerves feel like and I was buzzing to be on ‘Question Time’. I’ve wanted to do it forever, and even more so when I found out who the other guests would be. I did specially ask to be on with someone from the current cabinet because I don’t want to waste my time with a bigot with no real power like over-exposed [leader of the UK Independence Party Nigel] Farage; I want to be talking to the people who can actually change things. And they turned up [Conservative politician] Ken Clarke for me, which was perfect. Well, I obviously got to him cos now he’s stepped down from the cabinet! Also Lord Oakeshott, who was on with me, has since left the Liberal Democrats. I might be the Buffy of ‘Question Time’!
She loves her job and she’s brilliant at it.
Tell me a bit about your work with Abortion Rights (AR) UK…
I’m the media spokesperson for AR, or as some of my dear friends like to call me ‘the face of abortion’. There are a lot of women’s rights organizations I’m involved with. The other two big ones would be Eaves Housing – which helps trafficking victims – and Women For Refugee Women – which helps asylum-seeking women, but they’re usually given more sympathetic media coverage. The AR role puts me right in the firing line for cups of coffee and being called a murderer.
Reproductive rights are very basic human rights, if you don’t have control over your own body, your other rights are pretty meaningless. The anti-choice campaigners never face up to the fact of what taking away a woman’s right to choose means. It means forced pregnancy. That’s unbearably cruel. I’m very proud to be part of an organization that refuses to stand for that.
That. They never do call it forced pregnancy. I do though; I call it that often.
What is your biggest fear?
That we’re going backwards. One of the most dangerous ideas ever is this notion that things inevitably get better. The march of progress. They do not. Brave and wonderful individuals have been fighting for your rights for centuries. Not just to get them, but to keep them, too. We should be more grateful and more aware of the need to keep fighting. I went to state schools and then to Oxford University for free; when I’m ill I walk straight in to my local NHS clinic or hospital and I get great treatment. In a generation’s time quality healthcare and education could have become a luxury only the rich can afford.
Uhhhhhh…that’s the US right now. God this country is an embarrassment.