Thursday, January 19, 2006

Ruth Kelly must stay

There is a humane and well-argued article in today’s Spectator on the Ruth Kelly crisis from a perhaps unlikely source – the conservative writer Leo McKinstry.

I have been rather in two minds about this episode. On the one hand, like many New Labourites, Ruth Kelly exudes an air of ‘Not only am I cleverer than you but I am also a better person than you. So if you disagree with me you are simply revealing yourself as both ignorant and malignant.' She is the sort of person whom a political opponent can’t help but want to see taken down a peg or two.

In addition Labour have been guilty reductio ad absurdam of complex arguments for political advantage: ‘Labour are on the side of the victim; the Liberal Democrats are on the side of the criminal’. So in that sense to Labour ministers deserve to be hoisted on the petard of nuance and grey area.

But, as McKinstry points out, the feeding frenzy is both unedifying and hypocritical. In many ways, society in general and the tabloid press in particular give mixed messages about sex and the under-16s and punctuate this with occasional moral panics. I don’t agree with all of McKinstry’s conservative moralising, but many of his points are well made.

While it is tempting to relish the discomfort of a Labour minister, it is for the best if Ruth Kelly stays.


Joe Otten said...

Bah! Registration required. Not going to bother.

I would like to see her go, but I thought so before this. It is hard to trust a supporter of Opus Dei with a policy of expanding faith schools. Many Catholics consider it a dangerous cult, and who am I to disagree?

Giving the vetting job to an independent panel is a sound policy, but done out of cowardice this time. - the motivation is that of not wanting to be held accountable for these decisions.

Greater caution is justified. Doubtless it is largely the department rather than the minister who is at fault. But still the minister should apologies for having got it wrong - for having put children at risk.

What she actually apologised for was causing 'concerns' to parents. Not sorry about the risk. Very sorry that it ever came out. She should go.

Angus J Huck said...

Ruth Kelly should go, not because she allowed William Gibson to teach in schools, but because she has a "faith" agenda which I believe to be incompatible with her role as Secretary of State for Education.

William Gibson is not a "paedophile" in the sense that he has sex with children. To describe him as such is to abuse language and to dilute the opprobrium which is rightly directed at genuine paederastry.

I am personally much more horrified by Mr Gibson's habit of ripping off old ladies.

A Minister of the Crown owes a fiduciary duty both to the Crown and to Parliament. However, it is fairly clear that Ms Kelly considers that she owes a higher duty to an institution based in Rome which is paramount and overriding.

If she were the Minister for Unblocking Drains, or for Silly Walks, her loyalties would not conflict. But a Minister for Education who is a fervent Roman Catholic is bound to push for more segregated "faith" schools where children are indoctrinated with religion at the state's expense.

And I am not singling out Roman Catholics here. The same applies to Anglicans, Moslems, Sikhs, the Brethren, Zoroastrians or whomever.

Religion and education don't mix. Don't pollute children's minds with obscurantist twaddle.

PS: Opus Dei is a reactionary cult which operates much like the Freemasons. Its talk of "sanctifying one's daily life" is just priestly gobbledegook. It's about mutual backscratching, protecting hierarchies and preserving the positions of elites.

By the way, General Franco wouldn't let women travel without their husbands' written permission. I hope Ruth Kelly remembers this when she leaves London for her constituency.

Joe Otten said...

Oh and I forgot to mention that the Education white paper is a complete shambles.