15 June 2012
The weekly WHIP: 15 June 2012
Equal marriage consultation
The government's consultation on introducing equal marriage closed this week. And it surprised absolutely no-one that a change, which could undermine one of the main roles of the established church, was opposed by the established church. That is except the press, who thought this was worthy of numerous front page stories. Thinking Anglicans have an overview of the tidal wave of coverage this provoked.
The Evangelical Alliance's own humble submission to the consultation had to settle for a small section on the inside pages. We'll have to see what happens next; the government were predicting that this would be the biggest ever consultation with over 100,000 responses. But in the small print of the consultation document, the government rather pre-judged the consultation by not only saying they are planning on going ahead, but that the number of responses backing a particular position would not be the determining factor.
This was a bumper week for the Leveson Inquiry; former Prime Ministers Gordon Brown and Sir John Major took to the stand and on Thursday, David Cameron came under the forensic gaze of Lord Justice Leveson and lead counsel, Anthony Jay. Gordon Brown denied declaring war on News International after The Sun came out in support of the Conservatives ahead of the last election.
For the Prime Minister, awkward questions were always going to lie around the corner of each avenue of questioning. Whether it was on the appointment and retention, of Andy Coulson as his communications director, or the choice to leave oversight of the BSkyB bid to Jeremy Hunt, Cameron's reputation was on the line. However, it was the friendly relations between the occupant of Number 10 and senior editors that drew the most interest; specifically texts from Rebekah Brooks, former head of New International, wishing him well on the eve of a major conference speech.
In his annual Mansion House speech, Chancellor George Osborne signalled a significant shift in the government's banking policy. Conservative critics suggested that he had taken a wrong turn, while the author of the original proposals rued a missed opportunity as the government's white paper left out some sections. The markets, that infallible judge of financial decisions, seemed to welcome the move.
The already popular Never Seconds blog hit stratospheric heights after Argyll and Bute Council banned the nine year old school girl from taking photos and reporting on the quality of her school dinners. With 1193 comments on the latest post, one feels that the local council may well have misjudged the danger of picking a fight with a nine year old.