Thursday, June 26, 2008


On learning that McGinn had written the article in the previous post, Venomball's office swung into action, emailing editors of prominent political publications with proposals for yet another anti-Catholic screed.

Dolphinarium can exclusively bring you one of them. It reveals her intense hatred of the Roman Catholic Church and the extent of her obsession with Conor McGinn. It's also quite unintentionally hilarious. Read it and see just what anti-Catholicism leads to: conspiracy-theorising fruitcakery on a grand scale.

* She accuses Conor McGinn of using "bully boy tactics" against her because he publically condemned her anti-Catholicism

* Claims the Catholic Church "has a grip" on parliament, the media and the public sphere

* Claims the Church has a "massive army of dedicated volunteers" who "amend top google searches for abortion to only pro-life sites"

* Says there must be "stricter rules on keeping Parliament secular" for it to be "more diverse and democratic"

From: XXXX []
Sent: 16 June 2008 13:09
Subject: Mary Honeyball opinion on Catholic Church's response to her Guardian comment piece on HFEA Bill and what it means for democracy and representation

Dear X

Labour MEP Mary Honeyball would like to write a opinion piece or maybe an essay for Prospect on the increasing politicisation of the Catholic Church', its outraged response to her comment piece in the Guardian ahead of the HFEA Bill and what this all means for democracy and increasing representation of women and people from all faiths and cultures in Parliament, both at home and the EU.

Included in this email are links to the NewStatesman piece, written by a Catholic journalist attacking Mary for voicing her opinions in what he called Guy Fawkes style language; Mary's comment piece in the Guardian; various articles from Catholic magazines; and details of former vice-chair of Young Labour Conor McGinn's resignation at Labour's refusal to disown Mary.

I have also written out in detail what the structure of Mary's opinion piece would be.

I would be very grateful if you could get back to me as soon as possible to let me know whether you would like to commission this piece. My contact details are listed at the end of this email.

Structure of Feature/Comment

The piece would present evidence and discuss the Catholic Churches increasing involvement with Parliament over the past few years.
Put forward the case that such increased involvement in democracy comes with a responsibility to be open to scrutiny.
Demonstrate that this is certainly not happening and evidence the bully-boy tactics used by Catholics.
Eg. resignation of vice chair young labour blaming Mary for his actions, using contacts to generate one-sided stories in NewStatesman, calls for resignation, vitriolic blog postings.
Analyse this grip that the Catholic Church has on Parliament, media and public sphere and blocks to mounting a counter offense
Eg. Church has massive army dedicated volunteers who will blog, amend top google searches for abortion to only pro-life sites by their nature hummanists/non-religious people not as co-ordinated or spurred on to act.
Look at what all this means in terms of democratic accountability and representation.
Eg. people responding positively to Mary's comment piece online said they would start to check the religion of MPs and take that into account when voting; such bully-boy tactics used by religious pressure groups.
Examine what this means in terms of making Parliament more representative multi-culturally and more gender diverse.
Eg. If politicians judged by electorate to vote along religious lines, more so than party, limits opportunities for people from less popular religions to be elected. Women possibly put off by aggressive tactics.
Put forward the case that stricter rules on keeping Parliament secular need to be made to make Parliament more diverse and democratic.

Further Info

Mary's comment piece in the Guardian:

Cardinal's Sins
Embryo bill: Gordon Brown has allowed his authority to be undermined by the three Catholics in his cabinet
the Labour spokesperson for women's issues in Europe, Mary Honeyball MEP would like to offer a comment piece on what she sees as Gordon Brown's weakness in bowing to the pressure of religious fanaticism in the party and allowing a free vote on the human embryo bill at commitee and report stage.

NewStatesman piece last week:

Whiff of anti-popery
New Statesman - London,England,UK
This was most stridently articulated by the Labour MEP Mary Honeyball, who asked: "Should devout Catholics such as Ruth Kelly, Des Browne and Paul Murphy be ...
See all stories on this topic
Conor McGinn was a previous MP candidate for Islington and former chair of Young Labour. For further info:

Please see catholic Herald's coverage of this story:

Labour activist quits post over anti-Catholicism
Catholic Herald
Mary Honeyball's comments in the Guardian that "democracy and religion do not mix" have prompted the resignation of Conor McGinn from his post as vice-chair of Young Labour.

Labour's 'anti-Catholicism' raised with PM

Mary is an honorary associate of the National Secular Society and a leading member of the all party parliamentary group on the separation of religion and politics.


- -to Mary Honeyball MEP
Labour Spokesperson in the European Parliament Women's Rights Committee


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please can you remove my address from your blog

Thank you

6/27/2008 7:30 AM  
Blogger Red Maria said...

Certainly, if you can be more specific and tell me who you are which address it is you want removed.

6/27/2008 8:05 AM  
Blogger Red Maria said...

sorry, that should have read: and which address you want removed. Cheers.

6/27/2008 8:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for removing my address

6/27/2008 9:38 AM  
Blogger Red Maria said...

Saw what you meant. Address now gone. Apologies for the mistake.

Incidentally, if you are Mary Honeyball or from Mary Honeyball's office, why are you signing in as "anonymous"? And why don't you answer Honeyball's many critics' points?

How is Honeyball in any position to complain about "vitriolic blog postings" (thinking of any in particular, by the way?) when her own CiF contribution which sparked this whole thing off was itself a model of vituperative anti-Catholic bile, eh?

How exactly has Conor McGinn used "bullyboy tactics" against Honeyball? Or is Honeyball so convinced of her own absolute correctness that she deems any disagreement to be bullying?

After Honeyball's piece appeared on the Guardian website in May, McGinn emailed Honeyball to express his upset at it. Why did Honeyball not have the courtesy to reply to McGinn's email to her?

Various comments have been made on Labour Home and The New Statesman website impugning Conor McGinn. The poorly-worded unpunctuated English suggest the same person is responsible for both sets of comments. One suggests that he is lying, another by "Statesperson" which draws attention to the supposed friendship between Paul Donovan, author of the Statesman peice and McGinn on
23 June 2008 at 21:18 said:
"Isn't Donovan a friend of McGinn's should this have been noted it is a biased piece you could even say bigoted but that is the kind of laxzy language that causes more problems than it solves......."
This is strikingly similar to the claim made about in Honeyball's pitch, which also contained a number of telltale typos, spelling errors, poor punctuation and mistakes to Prospect that McGinn was:
"using contacts to generate one-sided stories in NewStatesman"
Can Honeyball confirm or deny whether she or any of her staff are responsible for the comments on Labour Home and the New Statesman?

How can Honeyball represent Roman Catholics when she suggests they should be discriminated against in public life?

How would barring Roman Catholics from public office make parliament more "diverse and democratic"?

How does the Roman Catholic Church have "a grip" on parliament, the media and the public sphere when an anti-Catholic like Honeyball is an MEP and openly queries whether Catholics have the right to participate in public life?

Can Honeyball suggest any other group of whom it would be considered acceptable to suggest discrimination against in public life or does she only think this should extend to Roman Catholics?

Quite a few people have expressed their disgust at Honeyball's anti-Catholic sentiments. It's clear that she is an electoral liability. In the best interests of the Labour Party should she not now resign?

6/27/2008 9:45 AM  
Blogger voltaires said...

Now, you have a point about Honeyball's article. But partly you're just sore about losing the vote on abortion time limits ("zygotes are people too" an' all that). Aintcha? ;-)

6/28/2008 12:01 AM  
Blogger Martin Meenagh said...

Thank you for the post. I hope that you do not mind that I have linked to it. I might just point out that, for all Mary Honeyball's talk of democracy, she herself never submitted herself for election by any constituents but was appointed from a party list.

Her non-denial denial of her anti-catholic attempt to undermine the position of three Labour cabinet members is also a tawdry classic of the genre. This has made me genuinely angry. I hope you go on following her public behaviour and pronouncements.

Her activities and opinions recently are all the sadder given her work on human trafficking, which is now overshadowed by this needless and repetitive bigotry.

7/08/2008 3:07 PM  
Blogger Red Maria said...

Hi Martin,

Thankyou for your comments and welcome aboard the infernal Romish conspiracy to crush an exemplar of enlightenment values and her brave campaign against obscurantist ignorance. I speak of none other than La Butterball herself, beloved of the people, voice of the voiceless, and mighty champion of the oppressed.

We know that we are engaged in this fiendish plot because she says so. And she must not be contradicted because to do so would be using "bullyboy tactics", you understand.

Not that she's anti-Catholic, of course. What a preposterous idea! She's not anti-Catholic, she's just anti-Catholics in government, in politics, in public life - and all for the most altruistic of reasons: it is necessary to purge left footers from the body politic to make it more diverse and democratic.

What do you mean, you don't agree? You're just another undercover Vatican operative bent on stifling democratic debate. The game's up, you know. Controlling the meeja, tampering with google search engines; even if you don't know about this, Nutball does. Make no mistake, she's on to you and your kind, so there!

7/12/2008 4:24 PM  
Blogger Martin Meenagh said...

I will take special care to arrange for it to rain on her, after I arrange for her to lose her election....oops, I can't. She isn't elected as such, but appointed from a party list. Darn!

How did the cardinal in charge of ensuring that this country stays clearly under the control of the catholic church whilst cleverly disguised as not in any way shape or form under the control of the catholic church let that one slip?

Ah, I see, it's a clever bluff. Let's keep it between ourselves, imperator, Latinae ad nunc and all that.

Still, I hear that Mary is soon to open an investigation into the Maria Monk affair. It never really stopped, you know....

7/13/2008 2:37 AM  
Blogger Red Maria said...

Oh look, she's started answering comments on her blog Well, she's deigned to reply to one person at least, with a load of mewing self-justifying hogwash. Her views have been misrepresented, she whines. How, exactly? She didn't question the right of Catholics to hold public office, she says. But she did. She queried whether "devout Catholics such as Kelly, Browne and Murphy be allowed on the government front bench in the light of their predilection to favour the Pope's word above the government's?". What precisely is the difference? I think she should explain.

7/13/2008 3:47 PM  
Blogger Merseymike said...

Mary is excellent and understands that the reactionary and harmful influence of the Vatican plc needs opposing. Catholic doctrine and ideas should be challenged. It is absolutely right to be 'anti' religionist conservatism, which is certainly not compatible with progressive politics.

8/07/2008 3:42 PM  
Blogger Red Maria said...

It's fitting that the one person to have come out in support of Mary Honeyball (whose own offerings on the subject can charitably be described as loopy) is such an excitable crank.

Attempting to reason with such people is invariably more amusing than productive. But just for the hell of it, you understand, Mersey Mike is Honeyball right to question whether Roman Catholics should be discriminated against in public life? And is she right to launch a personal attack on Conor McGinn, bizarrely accusing him of "bullyboy tactics" just because he happened to take issue with her?

8/08/2008 4:22 PM  
Blogger Thomas said...

I think perhaps the reason why Honeyball doesn't reply to your numerous questions is that they betray a pretty fundamental and uncharitable misreading of what she says. First off, you keep asking what she means by 'bully-boy tactics', when it says what in the email you reproduce. Notably she does not say that she considered McGinn's response itself to be bullying. Whether she is right or not about the bullying tactics, you have consistently misrepresented her point.

More worryingly, you talk of Honeyball requiring that Catholics be 'discriminated against in public life', barred from public office and so on. She does not say this at any point in the article, or the email you reproduced.

In particular you say:

'She didn't question the right of Catholics to hold public office, she says. But she did. She queried whether "devout Catholics such as Kelly, Browne and Murphy be allowed on the government front bench in the light of their predilection to favour the Pope's word above the government's?". What precisely is the difference?'

The difference is that being on the front bench is not the only form of public office. Every MP not on the front bench will tell you that. It is a pretty elementary distinction. Consider two positions:

a) some people whose Catholic beliefs lead them into persistent, barely concealed conflict with the government should not be on the front bench (as with any form of rebel)

b) ALL Catholics should be banned from ALL public office

It should be clear is that (a) is what Honeyball actually said (you have provided the quotes), (b) is what you have represented her view as being. They are so incredibly different as positions that I find it difficult to believe you could ever get them confused.

9/15/2008 11:41 AM  
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