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Saturday, 18 February 2012

Let us pray! Will those in favour say aye …

If the UK government doesn’t like something that the courts have ruled on, in spite of often championing the justice system here, it will just trample all over it.

It makes a mockery of the justice system if all it takes when, in this case, God-bothering idiot ministers can just – effectively – reverse a decision of the High Court.

We reported on 10 February how the National Secular Society had scored a victory against a Devon town council – Bideford – which insisted, along with so many other local authorities, on having Christian prayers as part of the meeting, whether members present were Christian, Muslim, Sikh, Jedi or of no religion whatever.

Let’s be clear first about what the NSS wanted: no prayers as part of the meeting (they’re usually held just before business begins, but nonetheless as part of the official proceedings). The NSS seems to have no objection to prayers held elsewhere in the council offices before the meeting begins.

Not only does this get over inflicting this mumbo-jumbo on people who don’t want it – or forcing them to come into the meeting late, and get a raised eyebrow from the mayor or chair – but it simply allows those who wish to pray to do so, among like-minded people, without knowing there are others in the meeting who are quietly mocking this quick chat with sky fairies.

Now, after that victory, our bloody government has decided to hurry forth a measure – part of the Localism Act – that will let councils ignore the ruling and just get on with the prayers, and anyone who finds it an embarrassment can just put up with it.

This measure is being fast-tracked by Eric Pickles, laughingly called the Communities Secretary – although, being a lard-arsed Tory, would not really know much about genuine community (the very word community would probably smack too much of socialism).

This is what the idiot Pickles says about it: “By effectively reversing that illiberal ruling, we are striking a blow for localism over central interference, for freedom to worship over intolerant secularism, for Parliamentary sovereignty over judicial activism, and for long-standing British liberties over modern-day political correctness.”

The italics are mine. Just ponder on the adjectives, the clichés, the sleight of mouth with such terms as “central interference” (what’s he doing now but using central interference?). Then there’s intolerant secularism. Is any form of secularism not intolerant in his mind?

As for “illiberal”, if Section 111 of the Local Government Act 1972, on which the judge based his judgment last week, is illiberal, why has it been allowed to remain on the Statute Book for 40 years?

These bozos won’t be happy till we’re living in a virtual theocracy.

1 comment:

Stuart Hartill said...

Excuse my hysterical laughter, but this whole sorry affair must be the first time I have ever been glad to live in the Isle of Man, rather than the UK, because of the antics of superstitious, bigoted politicians. I know rural councils over here where the relationship between church and community is so close that, effectively, the parish church council picks candidates for village councils and the villagers obligingly vote as requested. In my time as a full time journalist over here I was the lone hack attending monthly meetings or recording decisions of local authorities outside Douglas, the island capital city. But I have never - ever - in all that time seen an attempt to start a meeting with a prayer. Not once!
Incidentally, isn't one of the sneaky aims of the Localism Act to use small rural councils (where Tories traditionally do better) to thwart the attempts of larger urban councils (where Labour do better, and even Conservative majorities are more keen on maintaining local control) to balance the power of Westminster? In which case, isn't what we really see here Pickles and his undemocratic chums using a few wayward backwaters to prevent the far greater majority of hardworking local councils from doing the job the public elected them to do?
Also, just a thought, but if some councils are determined to have prayers as part of the business, I wonder what would happen if every time the chairman said "Let us pray" a councillor was to jump up and shout "Objection" or "Point of order, Mr Chairman" and refuse to let business move on until the objection was noted in the minutes and a proper vote was taken to begin praying?
Hey - it's on the agenda, and rules is rules - we can't afford to let these valuable traditions and hard-fought-for rights vanish just because of some new fangled ideas from bigwigs up in the Big Smoke who know nowt about how the rest of us have to live!