Saturday, July 12, 2008

No, she doesn't have anything better to do

than revel in her new found fame as the icon of anti-Catholicism. All that meeja coverage, dahling, all that delicious notoriety. She hasn't had anything like as much attention from the press (dominated by left footers, remember) in years. It's the stuff of scrapbook heaven.

A few days earlier she blogged sourly about Ruth Kelly arranging to be elsewhere on the day of the HFE Bill vote. In her Radio Ulster debate with Conor McGinn she made the following telling statement: "I do think that if a person is fortunate enough and honoured enough to be made a member of the government, they should follow what the government wants them to do."

There's a distinctive undertone of embittered jealousy in all this. Ruth Kelly has been honoured and privileged enough to be made a cabinet minister and skidaddles off whenever the Vatican calls, damnit, whereas she, Venomball, the ultra loyal hack languishes in the relative obscurity of Brussels horsetrading politics. It must be so galling to see Ruth Kelly's career soaring ahead of hers. By rights she deserves that cabinet position and she'd surely get it, if left-footers weren't hogging the show.

Theo Blackwell wondered what the point of Venomball's ongoing anti-Catholic campaign is. Aside from her obviously obsessive hatred of Roman Catholicism, there is another simple and cynical explanation: she loves the attention. It's more than she's ever had or ever likely to have.

In last week's Tribune, Venomball was in fine form, spraying vintage Catholo-paranoia rubbish about like a formula one racer with a bottle of Bolly. Notice also the vilification of Conor McGinn. She's an MEP with several permanent members of staff; he's a 23 year old Labour activist with a day job to hold down but she seriously claims that he is dictating the media agenda and intimidating her into silence by resigning his position as vice chair of Young Labour. Prepare for much toe-curling and read on ...

Condemn these Catholic tastes for intimidating those who disagree

An organisation that wields power in Parliament through lobbying and manipulating members' interests should be open to proper scrutiny - correct? Not so, says one of your columnists (Tribune June 20). Conor McGinn the former vice chair of Young Labour has waged a sustained and personal media attack on me for opening up a debate on the political methods used by the Roman Catholic Church to influence the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill in May. Manufacturing controversy, trying to intimidate the "enemy" and complaining early and often - methods all used by McGinn - are the hallmark tactics of right-wing conservative organisation, the Catholic League. Catholics for Choice, a group I actively support, identified these tactics in an investigative report into those who oppose women's rights and reproductive health entitled The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights: Neither Religious or Civil. The Catholic League is a dangerous organisation that bullies and intimidates anyone who dares criticise the Catholic Church, shutting down any dialogue on the Church's political methods or doctrine. It claims majority status for what is a minority worldview - a method used by McGinn, who claims to talk for all British Catholics in his comment piece. Confusingly, he contradicts himself later when he says: "Catholics are not a homogenous group". In my article in The Guardian I opened issues up for debate. I raised questions of loyalty between party and church in members elected represent people of many different religions and I spoke of the importance of this bill to women and the many sufferers of crippling diseases across the world. This is what democratic politics is about - questioning, debating and scrutinising. If the Catholic Church does not want to have a part in this, then it should not muddy its hands by attempting to influence public policy. The substitution of the word "Catholic" in my piece with "Jew" or "Moslem" would be equally valid if these groups were seeking to impose their religious views on other people but they are not. So instead use more comparable interest groups to replace Catholic in this context, others that attempted to influence this bill - "Family Planning Association", "Fawcett Society", "pro-lifers". Can you imagine the outcry? Perhaps a little from these interest groups but they would see it in the context of political debate - which it is.

Dagenham East, frankly. A good few stops past Barking. But just for the hell of it let's examine some of the arguments she advanced in the letter and her pitch to Prospect:

* The Roman Catholic Church manipulates members' interests.

And how skilfully she does it, eh. So well in fact, that her influence on recent Nu Labour legislation is nigh on invisible to any objective observer.

* The Roman Catholic Church has a grip on parliament, the media and public sphere.

Yes, indeed. Witness its effectiveness in censoring such bold secularist voices as Venomball herself.

* There was an "outraged reaction" from the Roman Catholic Church to her original Grauniad article.

Mmm. They speak of little else in Eccleston Square. Indeed when asked for a comment on the affair no less a person than Alexander DesForges said, "Mary Honeyball, Who she? Oh yes, I know, she's that woman who does the weather forecast on the telly isn't she? Oh she's not? She's said Catholics shouldn't participate in public life? Oh well, everyone's entitled to their opinion, I suppose. Must dash, that little prat Damian Thompson is kicking off about our website again. If we don't put a press release out about the Motu Proprio we'll never hear the end of it on Holy Smoke. Byeee!"

* Conor McGinn is the Roman Catholic Church.

And he has offices scattered in strategic locations across the globe from Islington to Rome with a vast army of volunteers to do his bidding, including tampering with Google by the way.

* Conor McGinn is The Catholic League.

And he and it are out to get her, you know.

* Conor McGinn has waged a sustained media campaign against her. He intimidated her. He tried to shut her up.

He's orchestrated this, all of this, blogs and news stories, it's all been drummed up by him. All this phoney outrage - there's nothing spontaneous about it - has been manufactured by him to stop her from telling the truth. From telling the truth about the way Catholics form a dangerous fifth column in the government's ranks; from telling the truth about the sway Catholics have over the national press; from telling the truth about the way Catholics tamper with google. But she won't be put off from telling the truth by all this intimidation! No way Jose Maria. She's going to keep on telling the truth, even if it costs her her life!

* She opened issues up for debate.

And welcomed the debate. Didn't complain at all about intimidation, or one-sided press coverage. Oh no! She welcomes vigorous debate, just as long as everyone agrees with her.

* Democratic politics is all about questioning, debating, scrutinising.

Questioning, debating and scrutinising anyone but her because that's not fair or legitimate, that's intimidation and probably orchestrated from deep inside the bowels of Vatican City to boot.

Yeah, well.

Mary Honeyball

is

a

sane

balanced

rational

individual

who is an adornment to Labour politics and should be sent to campaign in Glasgow East.


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