20 July 2009

It's Like She Never Existed

Richard Baker, on David Kerr's membership of Opus Dei:

“There has been a lot of coverage about Opus Dei . . . and I’m sure it will be a cause for people to have questions about Mr Kerr’s views.”

Now, it should be fairly obvious to most readers that I'm not exactly rushing to sign up to Opus Dei myself - and I don't suppose that they'll be crying into their pillows when they learn that. They're just not my type of group and I'm just not their type of member.

All the same, there are lots of organisations out there which don't get the same coverage Opus Dei does, and won't unless and until Dan Brown writes a book about them. The Speculative Society - whose members are said to have included Alec Douglas-Home, James Douglas-Hamilton, Lord Fraser, Nicholas Fairbairn (interesting that their party colleague Murdo Fraser should also rail against secretive societies: were they all poor representatives in his eyes, or are the Specs somehow less bad than Opus Dei?) - springs to mind.

But anyway, back to Labour and Opus Dei. It's a brave stance (and, incidentally, one that is not shared by the candidate, Willie Bain) that Richard Baker has taken against the group.

I mean, it's not like Labour have had any Opus Dei MPs, and certainly no members of the Cabinet from the group, is it?

Is it?


Oh, shiiiiiiiiiit...

Remember her, Dickie Boy? The name Ruth Kelly ring any bells for you? You know, Transport Secretary, and before that Communities Secretary? And Opus Dei member? Hey, if Opus Dei is as bad as Richard Baker thinks, then at least we didn't put any member of the group in charge of, you know, Government equality policy...

So, Dick, was she so insignificant that you've forgotten her, or are you just trying to force feed the voters yet another great big steaming bowl of hypocrisy?


Scottish Unionist said...

Was Ruth Kelly ever recorded doing (in Tom Gordon’s words) a “camp impersonation” in “a high, mincing voice” of John Knox?

Did she ever describe the leader of the Protestant Reformation in Scotland as having wreaked “a lot of havoc”?

Did she ever pander to antediluvian Old Firm prejudices by joking that Knox was angry because “Rangers hadn’t won the league for a while”?

Forget Opus Dei; religion isn’t the issue here. This is about David Kerr himself.

Will said...

I disagree with Kerr on the Reformation (frankly, I suspect it was one of the most important things to happen to Scotland and I don't envisage the Enlightenment unfolding as it did without the Reformation), and on Knox.

But let's get one thing clear: despite the efforts of Willie Bain to keep Opus Dei and religion out of this, that's what Richard Baker brought it back to. He didn't criticise Kerr for a stupid speech in St. Andrews, but for being in OD. Ruth Kelly was in OD. Baker made religion the issue, and inadvertantly slated a former member of Labour's UK Cabinet in the process, just for both of them being who they are and belonging to the group that they belong to - the same thing that Kerr is being (reasonably) accused of in the speech he made two years ago. But of course, Richard Baker did it this time, so it must be OK.

And your line on your own blog that you were "uneasy about much in these reports" (that revealed Kerr's membership of OD shows that you aren't above bringing it down to that either. You may wish to bear that in mind before you start telling me - or anyone else - what the issue is. As soon as you got pompous about headlines that had "Opus Dei" and "David Kerr" in the same sentence, you made it clear what you thought the issue was. Why the apparent change of heart?

Scottish Unionist said...

I’ll ignore your charge of pomposity and just point out that I’ve had no change of heart. I don’t have a problem with David Kerr’s membership of Opus Dei and was “uneasy” about it being made an issue. If you read my second post in the thread to which you linked (timestamped 11:29pm yesterday) that will become clear.

Caron said...

Good post, Will. The hypocrisy from both Labour and the Tories on this point has been unbelievable.

However, Kerr has managed to get himself mired in the brown and smelly stuff over comments he made slagging G-Cal. Breathtaking academic snobbery.

Will said...

SU, I had a more detailed response ready, but appear to have pressed 'Cancel' instead of 'Publish'. The basic synopsis of it was that context is key: if you publish the headlines without comment, and the headlines are hostile to Kerr and his membership of Opus Dei, and you throw in the headlines regarding Kerr's Epic Gobshite moment, readers are going to infer that you agree with the sub-editors, and your follow-up comment, which I did read, doesn't allay matters.

Your approach seems to be summed up as "I'm not saying there's anything wrong with Opus Dei but the papers are copmlaining about Kerr being a member and wasn't that speech he made at St. Andy's awful?" It smacks of Shirley Syndrome to me and I'm sure you can see why people may, under present circumstances, take the view that you're linking the two factors (Opus Dei, and the mouth-before-brain speech) and suggesting that they're both bad things. I apologise if that's not the link you wish to make, but please be aware that putting the two alongside each other will cause that to happen.

Caron, I did discuss that in detail in the deleted comment, to the extent that universities are insanely tribal at times and that his speech will have gone down very well at Andy's. But then, declarations that the Sun will never set on the British Empire also go down well at Andy's, so we can infer that it's a slightly odd place.

And by saying that, I've proven that I'm not above a bit of Intervarsity bitching and that it's all too easy to slip into that, however patently arsey it is. What he said may well be cringeworthy, I quite agree, but I've heard a lot worse and will admit that I made speeches at Uni which could, quite frankly, get me sent to The Hague. The speech is an embarrassment for Kerr, but not a politically fatal one by any means.

But he has proven MacNumpty's First Law of By-Elections: anything you may have said to anyone, anywhere, and at any time ever will be brought up, chewed over and spat out.

Scottish Unionist said...

“I apologise if that's not the link you wish to make”

No worries Will.

Free Thinker said...

Opus Dei are a subset of the Jesuits. Utter shite-stirrers and specialists in misery, social vandalism and sabotage amongst their myriad unaccountable and criminal activities...

They're the 'sectarian' wing of the Illuminati NWO plan.