Friday, October 03, 2008

Venomballs (an occasional series devoted to the crackpot ravings of a Brussels-based bigot)

Ruth Kelly has confirmed that she's standing down as MP for Bolton. It's a shame. The increasingly gorgeous Kelly was widely acknowledged as being one of the nicest people in British politics. Her sweet nature, keen intellect and dazzling career were deeply resented by the more embittered type of codswallop hack.

Speaking of which, guess who's been kicking off about Ruth Kelly's departure?

Luke Akehurst is the latest to add his voice to the growing chorus objecting to her vituperative anti-Catholic rubbish.

As it happens, someone called "Thomas" posted a vigorous defence of La Venomball on this 'ere blog a couple of weeks ago. Who knows, maybe he's her new recruit. Seeing as the very few voices who stuck up for her previously were either nigh on illiterate, plain bonkers, or usually both, I thought it would be worth giving this one a wider airing.

"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," he wrote.

Ok, so to kick off it's the first refuge of any politician caught out by their own words: claim they're quoted out of context, wilfully misrepresented, impute bad faith in those who challenge them, which is typical of Venomball's spiteful style. It's also ridiculous. Venomball's poisonous anti-Catholic sentiments were unambiguously expressed everytime she hauled herself on her soapbox. She spoke of the "vice like grip of Catholicism" and "interference by meddling cardinals" as well as attacking Catholic politicians in her own party and questioning their right to hold office. That isn't rendered any softer by context. It speaks for itself. It's vintage anti-Catholic bigotry. And anti-Catholic bigotry which is demonstrably stronger than any loyalty she has to her party comrades.

"First off, you keep asking what she means by 'bully-boy tactics', when it says what in the email you reproduce. "

Yes, I asked what Venomballs meant by bullyboy tactics. You know, I asked for a definition of the term. In the absence of such a thing I ask whether it is suggested that by resigning as vice chair of Young Labour, Conor McGinn and Catholics were using bullyboy tactics? Seriously?

I ask whether it is actually claimed that stories about Venomball's anti-Catholicism were placed in the Catholic press by Conor McGinn (with what proof?) rather than appearing as a result of traditional journalistic enterprise and if the workings of a free press constitute bullyboy tactics. Yes, I do ask whether such a bizarre claim is made.

"Notably she does not say that she considered McGinn's response itself to be bullying."

But she did: "[E]vidence the bully-boy tactics used by Catholics.Eg. resignation of vice chair young labour blaming Mary for his actions."

"Whether she is right or not about the bullying tactics, you have consistently misrepresented her point."


Venomballs made free use of the public soapbox to expound her toxic views about the Roman Catholic Church and its members. Her views were clearly expressed and well understood by many people, not just this blogger. She hasn't resiled from any of them. Frankly, its feeble and dishonourable of her and her lackeys to take refuge in claims of misrepresentation.

"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."

Shameless crap. Venomballs clearly questioned the right of "devout Catholics" - her words - such as Ruth Kelly, Des Browne and Paul Murphy to be "allowed" - her wording again - onto the front bench. That's questioning whether they should be discriminated against.

"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. "

Feeble, frankly. Calling for discrimination - and that is what she did, Venomballs called for Roman Catholics to be discriminated against - on the front bench is calling for them to be discriminated against in public life. Erecting a glass ceiling at any stage in public life for any minority group makes all discrimination against them respectable. Venomballs endorsed the principle of discrimination against Roman Catholics.

"Every MP not on the front bench will tell you that. "

Oh yeah? Let's ask a few of them, shall we?

What about Stephen Pound MP?

He said Venomballs' comments had a "whiff of the 17th century about them" adding that she was "alienating more people than she influences by the violence of her attack. She seems to find it impossible to accept that Roman Catholics can play a responsible part in democratic life - indeed that it is our duty - without raising absurd and outdated images of loyalty to Rome and perceived intolerance."

Clearly not every MP, then.

Look at what David Taylor MP says. David Taylor is not a Roman Catholic and is a member of the left wing Campaign Group. He said:

"I am mortified that one of my political colleagues has written an article in a national broadsheet which has caused such offence in Catholic circles that a promising young party activist [Conor McGinn] has found it necessary to resign. I understand that as a former chairman of Young Fabians, this prominent young socialist was offended particularly by Mary Honeyball's apparent questioning of the right of Catholics to take part in any public life in the UK. I have also had the issue raised with me by local Catholic constituents who are equally incensed by the article. Having now tracked down and perused the article in question I have to say that I profoundly disagree with it in almost all respects. The point I wish to underline is that it only represents her own personal views NOT those of the Labour Party."

Still less every MP.

"It is a pretty elementary distinction."

I love that "elementary" distinction between some discrimation and yet more discrimation. It's one which escaped Stephen Pound and David Taylor among others. Discrimation is like being pregnant. There either is discrimation or there is not. You're either pregnant or you are not. But do go on.

"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)"

Notice the implicit smearing of Cabinet Catholics. Ruth Kelly, Des Browne and Paul Murphy as persistent rebels. Laughable. But of course what "Thomas" is referring to and what Venomballs has been constantly spitting bile about is their insistence on a conscience vote over the HFE Bill. In Venomballs' loonyverse that's them acting as a disloyal fifth column in the Labour Party's ranks.

Let's remind "Thomas" and Nutball of one salient point.

Matters concerning the beginning and end of human life are by parliamentary convention always subject to a free vote. Always. MPs are allowed a free vote on abortion and capital punishment. In 1990 the Tory government allowed its MPs a free vote on the then HFE Bill. All Kelly, Browne, Murphy and other Labour MPs, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, were asking for should have been theirs by right anyway - a free vote. That's not persistent rebellion by any objective definition of the term.

"b) ALL Catholics should be banned from ALL public officeIt 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."

This is either stupid or deliberately playing at it. Discrimination is discrimination. It's the principle which counts. Discrimination at any stage of public office makes discrimination respectable and gives a precedent for it at all stages of public office. It's so incredibly plain that I find it difficult to believe anyone can mount such a weak defence of it with a straight face.


If Venomballs has been encouraging her staff to go out and bat, poorly, in her defence it probably isn't the first time.

After Paul Donovan's report on the affair appeared in the Staggers, the following comment by "Statesperson" appeared in the online version.

statesperson 23 June 2008 at 21:18 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.......

The semi-literate, unpunctuated English was strongly reminiscent of the pitch sent by Venomballs' researcher to Fabian Review and Progress magazine.

Just before the Glasgow East by-election Venomballs' researcher attended a Labour Party media training session in Westminster held by former BBC journalist Polly Billington and asked how her office could better deal with Conor McGinn. A rather startled Billington replied that she wasn't there to give advice on how to attack other Labour activists, adding pointedly that Venomballs' office must be very confident about the forthcoming Euro elections if they were spending all their time thinking about Conor McGinn.

That's one way of putting it.

Another is this:

Mary Honeyball MEP uses her public position to call for discrimination against Roman Catholics, to stir up anti-Catholic prejudice and conduct vicious smear campaigns against Labour Roman Catholics.

Mary Honeyball is unfit for office.


Blogger David Lindsay said...

Will you stand in London?

Come on, if not you, then who?

All you have to do is agree with everything set out in the three policy documents at, which you do.

10/04/2008 4:55 AM  
Blogger voltaires said...


Look at the comments, hurr hurr hurr...

10/05/2008 4:32 AM  
Blogger David Lindsay said...

They are hardly our target electorate.

10/06/2008 6:42 AM  
Blogger voltaires said...

"Our"? :lol:

10/06/2008 3:53 PM  
Blogger Merseymike said...

Mary Honeyball is a breath of fresh air, and about time that the Vaticanist tendency, whose views are incompatible with a modern progressive party, are challenged. catholics should leave their religion in church and not expect those of us who rightly reject its content to have it introduced into secular politics. If thats what you want - then join David Lindsay who at least has the courage of his convictions

11/08/2008 6:48 PM  
Blogger Red Maria said...

Some people found Titus Oates a breath of fresh air. You find Mary Honeyball similarly refreshing. That is your prerogative.

You are prey to all manner of odd fantasies which provide a rich seam of entertainment for onlookers. However, I'm not sure that the blogosphere is the best place for you to express your delusions. Clearly you find it quite distressing when you are disabused of them. You must try to understand that when people correct you, as they so often do, they don't do so out of malice.

I realise this may come as a shock to you but the fact is, Merseymike, that you don't own the Labour Party and some may think that your pronouncements on which minority groups should, in your view, be barred from membership, a touch presumptuous. Similarly, I think that your singular views on what is or is not progressive, are of interest only to yourself.

It would be better for you if you could try to comprehend these points. You only upset yourself by clinging to such figments of your imagination.

11/10/2008 6:34 PM  

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