Now that the House of Commons has given its blessing to the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, the focus will soon turn to the House of Lords and the final consummation. Even if the Bill emerges from its Committee stage largely unscathed, it is so badly drawn-up that it is unlikely to survive the scrutiny of those in the Upper House who are tasked with applying their philosophical and theological expertise to expose all legislative shortcomings.
And don’t think for one minute that the opposition will come only from the Conservatives: many unreconstituted Labour peers and a fair smattering of Liberal Democrats and Cross-benchers are likely to unite in a strategy of filibustering and frustration. There is a determined cross-party consensus among Their Lordships that the case for same-sex marriage has simply not adequately been made. Continue reading →
I caught sight of a tweet yesterday by the Shadow Culture Secretary Harriet Harman. It was, perhaps unsurprisingly, critical of the Culture Secretary Maria Miller, who had apparently cast the “‘shameful slur that arts community ‘disingenuous’ & their concerns ‘pure fiction’”. I enquired of the context and, to my surprise, Ms Harman responded swiftly with a link to an article by the Culture Secretary which appeared in the Evening Standard in November last year.
I don’t quite know why it’s taken a quarter of a year for Ms Harman to decide to get upset about this, but – I think for the first time in my life – I find myself agreeing with her. If this article was written by Maria Miller personally, she seems purposely to perpetuate the myth that Conservatives are basically all philistines who don’t quite “get” the Arts. If it was written by a civil-service aide, he (or she) deserves something of a reprimand – even after
the space of three months. Continue reading →
On Thursday of this week, the Rt Hon Ann Widdecombe became Dame Ann. It is an honour well-deserved and long-overdue, bestowed in recognition of her remarkable contribution to politics and society, along with decades of tireless work for charity. ‘Dame Ann’ not only sounds good; it adds gravitas to a well-known name which will enhance the profile of her charitable efforts and increase her capacity to raise much-needed funds for the myriad of good causes she champions.
But this damehood was not bestowed by the Queen in Buckingham Palace at the behest of the Prime Minister: it was a papal honour granted after a Mass in Parliament’s Crypt Chapel. Ms Widdecombe is now a Dame of the Order of St Gregory – an honour conferred by Pope Benedict XVI himself and bestowed by Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor at a ceremony in Speaker’s House in the Palace of Westminster. Continue reading →