Austen Ivereigh: 'Churches can help Labour renewal'
Incredibly, Austen Ivereigh credits his fellow Roman Catholic Tony Blair with 'granting exemptions and opt-outs from equality laws for faith-based organisations in order to preserve their integrity and independence'. In Tony Blair, he preaches, 'there was respect for conscience and belief' because 'Blair's ears were tuned to faith'.
And it was, Mr Ivereigh avers, the evil Protestant Presbyterian Gordon Brown who removed the opt-outs from anti-discrimination laws so preciously preserved by St Tony.
A little lesson in (very) recent history, Mr Ivereigh:
The legislation which required Roman Catholic adoption agencies to conform to the requirement not to discriminate against homosexuals in the provision of goods and services was originally known as the ‘Sexual Orientation Regulations’, which were first laid before Parliament on the 7 March 2007. Tony Blair did not have the conviction to vote against the regulations, preferring instead to absent himself from the division. They passed with the overwhelming support of the Commons (309 votes to 99), and were subsequently implemented across England and Wales on 30 April 2007.
Tony Blair was still prime minister throughout this period: he did not resign until 27 June 2007.
Although he may have attempted to secure an opt-out for faith-based agencies, ultimately he ‘caved in’ because his ‘respect for conscience and belief’ was subsumed to his reverence for New Labour, and his ears were more attuned to the demands of Sir Ian McKellan than they were either to the Almighty or to the Magisterium of the Church. He did, however, generously and graciously grant Roman Catholic adoption agencies 21 months to prepare for the change, calling this a ‘sensible compromise’.
So, Mr Ivereigh, your hagiographical account of the trials and tribulations of St Tony, who had nothing, you proclaim, but ‘respect for conscience and belief’ and whose ears, you insist, ‘were tuned to faith’, is – how shall His Grace put it – more than a little apocryphal. Labour did not lose the last General Election because Gordon Brown had 'tuned out' of the divine broadcast, but because Tony Blair had been ashamed to 'do God' throughout the entire previous decade.
Intelligent and discerning Christians who support(ed) Labour will not be persuaded of Austen Ivereigh's Guardianista revisionist narrative at all: it smacks of rather desperately-fawning co-religionist adulation.
Tony Blair had no comprehension at all of Roman Catholic values, the ‘common good’ or of ‘subsidiarity’: his values were (and remain) his own; he recognises no higher earthly authority in the teaching on faith or morals. He confused the ‘common good’ with the pursuit and retention of power, and his notion of subsidiarity had nothing to do with the liberating Catholic definition but that modeled on the oppressive and invasive ever-closer-centralising of the European Union.
Could this possibly be the same Austen Ivereigh who is trying desperately to solve the communication problems of the Roman Catholic Church and who so appalled Sinead O’Connor with his alarming excuses for the