03 June, 2006

The best person for the job

This article has now moved to nullifidian.net.
One must have been living under a rock for the last few years if you're not aware of the increasing influx of pervasive religious attitudes into daily life. I'm not talking about living in a theocracy here - I live in the UK. I'm talking about in the 'secular' West, where increasing scientific knowledge, affordable and accessible technology and mass (in terms of ease, not in terms of distribution) communications have a reasonably good exposure and there's a general level of appreciation of them all.

Let me give you an example of this sort of thing in the UK: you may or may not be aware of a UK Government minister called Ruth Kelly.

Kelly is a devout Catholic and a member of the now-infamous Opus Dei sub-sect. Kelly has very strong links with the Catholic church and is a key member of Prime Minister Blair's Government, as well as being a close personal friend of the Blairs. Kelly has, since she became an MP in 1997, missed a number of key votes on equality and equal rights, preferring to abstain from making any commitment either way.

This may seem odd, considering her personal[1] opinions on such issues. Another Catholic might think she's a weak Catholic; a freethinker may wonder why she isn't representing her constituents' interests and abstaining from key votes. Either way, she's not being entirely honest. Can you guess what her rôle in the Government is?

She's the Minister for Equality[2].

Yes, that's right: she's the one that's supposed to ensure that homosexuals, women, non-traditional ethnic Britons (I won't say ethnic minorities - in some communities non-whites are in the distinct majority), the disabled and everyone else that is supposedly disadvantaged in day-to-day life are treated fairly and equitably.

Apparently, within Blair's Labour party, she's the most qualified person that he could find. Well, she must be: Blair wouldn't choose someone less qualified than that to serve us, the British public... would he?

At every opportunity, Kelly has refused to discuss her attitudes to topic of gay rights, women's rights and the seemingly inherent contradiction of her job and her beliefs.

This doesn't sound like the best person for the job to me.

Addendum: In a previous rôle, Kelly was Minister for Education instrumental in reforming education to allow private organisations, including religious ones, to run schools, but that's another story.

[1] 'Personal' obviously includes those advocated by the Vatican.
[2] Technically the name of the post is the Secretary of State for Communities.


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