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Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Should Mother Kelly be shown the doorstep?

Ruth Kelly has got her way. She'll escape the necessity to vote on somethng her choice of superstition makes distasteful to her.

She's a raving Catholic of the Opus Dei faction and hates poofs. That goes without saying. But she also hates the idea that embryos – you know, those little bundles of cells with no more sentience than a plucked eyelash – might be buggered about with a bit in a Petri dish in the name of science, and possible cures for nasty illnesses.

Her god is OK with allowing actual thinking, breathing, knowing people to die, but not a few cells. Now I know there are concerns about playing with life at a genetic level, but the concensus seems to be that there are potential benefits for living people and those yet to be born if this sort of research is permitted. Anyway, it's up to politicians and scientists and their various ethics bodies to decide, rightly or wrongly, on these matters, not people who believe their guidance comes from on high.

But this prat, who was once Secretary of State for Education and Skills, wants it not to happen. She's not happy with having been allowed a free vote, along with other superstitionists, on individual aspects of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, on the understanding that, when it came to a vote on the Bill itself, Labour MPs will vote with the government. Now those individual votes have gone against her, she is not sporting enough to say, "OK, we were defeated, now let's support the Bill because it's a government Bill."

Oh, no. She wants a get-out. And she's bloody well gone and got it, according to the Daily Telegraph, and her colleagues aren't exactly chuffed about it.

"Miss Kelly, one of several prominent Catholics in Gordon Brown's Cabinet, has told whips she will be in Brussels on 14 July, the day that the vote will take place," says the paper.

Convenient for her. And she's been given special permission to miss this vote. That's the galling thing about it: they've caved in to her superstitions and let her off the hook. The paper goes on:

Mr Brown allowed a free, conscience, vote when the matters were debated in the Commons last month on condition that ministers would have to vote for the entire bill when it returned to the Commons.

That "deal" has been accepted by other Catholic Cabinet ministers including Des Browne, the Defence Secretary, and Paul Murphy, the Welsh Secretary. But Miss Kelly's determination to not be forced to vote for the bill has led to her citing a meeting in Brussels as a reason for her absence from the Commons on Monday week.

Some ministers have privately said that Miss Kelly should vote with the Government or stand down from her Cabinet post.

Well, a politician with any honour (and there don't seem to be many of those) would do the decent thing and resign.

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