Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Saying what we mean

Politicians like prelates (bishops etc) are professionally doomed to say/write something even when tranquil meditation is maybe the better option. Which brings me to the Archbishop of Canterbury, sharia law and stuff.

A few days before the balloon went up I kept running across him first at an informal sandwich lunch in a tiny room in the Commons where we in the parliamentary Life Group briefed him on the Embryology Bill and later in the huge grand Anglican Cathedral at the Liverpool Capital of Culture lecture.

He's a very pleasant, gentle man and he looks wise, sounds wise ( with elegant ways of phrasing his points) ...but the jury is out on whether he actually is wise. Certainly not 'worldy wise' or media savvy though he actually has a very intelligent press officer. Listening to his lecture on culture in the Anglican Cathedral I had the feeling that lofty sentiments were being expressed but the core of his message remained a little elusive.

That's OK if you're talking about culture but if you are going to talk about such an emotive.press sensitive topic as Sharia Law best make your thoughts crystal clear...and he clearly didn't or perhaps his thoughts weren't actually totally clear in the first place.

Currently with the Select Committee on Communities and Local Government we are doing an enquiry into the delicate matter of Community cohesion and went to Peterborough an area where migrant population figures run into five figures. We met the migrant workers who told us what an excellent job the council was doing in integrating them and residents who told us what a rotten job the council was doing. The most vocal resident complaining about the newcomers was incidentally a second generation immigrant.

In my picture you can see us talking to selected migrants (from right to left) a Roma Czech policeman, a Lithuanian girl, a man from Somaliland, a lady from Portugal and a Kurdish refugee from Iraq.

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