So farewell then Ruth Kelly

With Ruth Kelly quitting, Limavady has lost its one and only link with the British Cabinet, though she left NI I think at the age of 3 and never said a significant world about it in public, though once I tried unsuccessfully to draw her out on 11 plus selection at a meeting in Downing St.. Strangely enough the only other NI – born cabinet minister the Conservative bruiser Brian Mawhinney also served as Transport Secretary. After news of her departure was leaked last night in the present febrile atmosphere, Downing St moved fast to give the age of her four young children as the reason and deny any political motive, a case Gordon Brown repeated at length in interviews this morning. This morning in her speech to the Labour conference she admitted they ” had not agreed on everything” without further explanation, but probably alluding to her issues of conscience as a devout Catholic. Brown also swept aside the rumour she had been among four cabinet ministers thinking about quitting to force his own resignation. Ruth though academically brilliant never shook off the impression that she had been over promoted in her meteoric rise to the cabinet as Education Secretary at 36, then moving rapidly to Communities (English local government) Secretary and finally Transport Secretary. There were plenty of reasons why she might quit. She was regarded as a prime candidate for the chop in the impending reshfuffle. As a devout Catholic – controversially linked to Opus Dei – she faces a dilemma at the final whipped vote on the Human Embryology and Fertilisation Bill in a month or so, after being allowed a free vote with other Labour Catholics on key clauses earlier. As a Cabinet minister it would have been virtually impossible for her to defy the whip. It remains to be seen what other Catholics, our old friends Paul Murphy and Des Browne as well as the youthful Andy Burnham will now do. I guess another discreet abstention is prospect though Ruth may have disdained another moral fudge. In any case, she faces annihilation in her constituency of Bolton West , majority 2000, in the general election. Ruth Kelly was in a sense iconic, young mum, brilliant etc. and undoubtedly principled but sadly it must be said that as a politician she rose almost without trace and will depart similarly.

  • Steve

    How will £ngland ever survive without this religiously extreme, inept communist irish clown?.



    Kelly was born in Limavady, Northern Ireland. She also lived briefly in the Republic of Ireland before moving to England where she attended Edgarley Hall – the prep school for Millfield School. She was privately educated at Sutton High School. After jumping up a year and sitting O-levels at Sutton High School at the age of 15, she decided to move back to Ireland to look after her ill grandmother. Her grandmother died after six weeks, but Kelly stayed for a year,[2] living with her aunt and taking A-level French. She returned to England where she won a scholarship to the sixth-form of Westminster School to take her A-levels. She went on to The Queen’s College, Oxford where she read Philosophy, Politics and Economics, graduating in 1989, and then to the London School of Economics gaining an MSc in Economics in 1992. She joined the Labour Party in 1990, becoming a member of the party’s Bethnal Green & Stepney/Bow constituency branch. She was an economics writer for The Guardian from 1990, before becoming deputy head of the Inflation Report Division of the Bank of England in 1994. She married Derek John Gadd, a local government officer, in 1996, and they have four children.[3]

    [edit] Family history

    Kelly’s grandfather Philip Murphy was an Irish Republican Army (IRA) officer interned in 1922 by the Government of Northern Ireland. Murphy’s detention file refers to him as ‘quartermaster of the West Fermanagh IRA Battalion’. He went on hunger strike to protest at his detention. He was released unconditionally in June 1924 when internment ended.[4]

  • Walker, you are USELESS

    “Strangely enough the only other NI – born cabinet minister the Conservative bruiser Brian Mawhinney also served as Transport Secretary” – off the top of my head, Charley Londonderry and Ronald McNeill for two more. Though God help us all if the Turtle makes it.

  • Would Kelly be a Miliband supporter?

  • elvis Parker

    Dont know but am reminded on something I saw recently -‘A Milliband is a thousandth of a bandwagon’

  • “off the top of my head, Charley Londonderry and Ronald McNeill for two more”

    Kate Hoey, Sports’ Minister, as recently as 2001.

  • Dewi

    Not in Cabinet Chekov

  • Strike that. It was a junior ministry.

  • Dewi

    I’ve been searching for a while now – seems so bizarre that so few Cabinet ministers from NI. What’s with you and this relationship???

  • Driftwood

    Looks like David Trimble will be the next one.

  • Brian Walker

    walker you are useless ( no relation obviously)
    I meant the modern era obviously though I should have made the post pedant-proof. I give you Ronald MacNeill later Lord Cushendun who threw a book at Churchill at the dispatch box during the Home Rule controversy.

    7th Marquess of Londonderry, Sec of State for Air and friend of Goering, Ribbentrop ( see Mount Stewart memorabilia) previously quite liberal NI Education Minister, was I’m pretty sure born in London.

    You might have added Lord Bryce, illustrious civil lawyer, later Pres of Board of Trade and Irish Chief Secretary and British ambassador to Washington during WW1.

    James Craig later Lord Craigavon gave up the post of civil lord of the admiralty outside the the cabinet after 1918 to head UU opposition to Home Rule.

    Off the top of my head.

    Why so few? Because for the most part, Ulster/NI has essentially been outside the main party system even when Cons and Libs had federated or affiliated relationships. And we wouldn’t expect to include nationalists (although John Redmond turned down a post in 1914 and Joe Devlin might have been expected to be offered a junior post.)

  • Brian Walker

    PS Brendan Bracken acolyte of Churchill and founder of the Financial Times was Min of Information for part of WW2. Red-haired, he liked to make a mystery of his origins, even enjoying the lie he was Churchill’s bastard son. He was in fact born to a republican family in Co Tipp.

  • dewi

    Lord Longford – or was he a Southern prod?

  • Greenflag


    Longford is in the Republic . His family the ‘Pakenhams’ are still extant with his son Thomas a well known writer . ‘The Scramble for Africa ‘ and ‘The Boer ‘ being two of his better known books . More recently he has written about ‘trees’ from around the world .

    Perhaps Thomas felt that whereas his father had spent a lifetime talking to the ‘trees’ in the House of Lords – he might do better writing about trees in a globa context .

    One of the family’s ancestors came to grief as a Captain in the British Army at the Battle of New Orleans against Andrew Jackson . I’m sure you know the song – ‘In 1814 we took a little trip etc ‘

    I recommend Pakenhman’s books highly be they on African or Boer War history . His recent book on Baobabs is a treasure 🙂

    One of nature’s gentlemen is Mr Pakenham 🙂

  • As for Ruth Kelly, all round: another Labour gain.

    Two factors account for the deficit in NI figures in Cabinet.

    The first, and by far the more important, testifies amply to the quality of representation that the Unionists sent to Westminster over the years. The 1959 unseating from North Belfast of Montgomery-Hyde, a truly able man who was damned for his position over the Wolfenden Report, springs to mind: a early victim of the “save Ulster from sodomy brigade”.

    The other factor might be the legacy of Brooke[borough]. Brooke, as he was, was severely exercised by the socialism of Attlee’s 1945 government; and held a Cabinet to discuss two options — retaining Westminster representation, or going for Dominion status. That developed into a real split which is not relevant here. Brian Maginness, then Minister of Labour and later (1949-53) Minister for Home Affairs took an ambivalent position for a Westminster presence but keeping a distance from the Tories. Brooke’s conclusion, supporting Maginness, was: “The Government of Northern Ireland is not a Tory Government. It is a Unionist Government.”

    After 1951, the Churchill administration was dependent on those UU votes for a respectable parliamentary majority. The UU MPs followed the Brookeborough line and used their brief moment of power to extract concessions rather than give unconditional support.

    In the 1951 Parliament, Hugh O’Neill (Antrim North) was Father of the House.

  • dewi

    Gf – strangely enough I’ve read Pakenham on the Boer War without realising his antecedants. I’ll have to re-read in prejudice enabled mode…..
    Malcolm – another Labour gain? – Not in Bolton West!

  • Greenflag

    dewi ,

    ‘I’ll have to re-read in prejudice enabled mode.’

    Why so ? It’s been a while since I read it and I can’t recall being perturbed by any of it . It was pretty factual IIRC .

  • dewi

    Pretty factual and exciting actually….but you never know there might be some nuance that I missed (I was only kidding) – away from home but who was the IRB bloke fighting for the Dutch? Mcbride?

  • dewi on Sep 24, 2008 @ 02:45 PM:

    Have a look at the Q and A, done for The Guardian by Susan Williams, the prospective Tory candidate for Bolton West.

    She’s Cork-born, Geordie by upbringing, a rank Tory but not too obviously frothing (worked in the voluntary sector with MS sufferers; pro-grammars — which in Trafford means stick with the status quo; Euro-neutral; 22 weeks; not heavy on the tax issue; seems even to have a clue about being diplomatic).

  • Ulsters my homeland

    An MSc in Economics and a member of Opus Dei? she’s bound to get a job in the Vatican Bank

  • dewi @ 03:26 PM:

    None other than Major John MacBride, who gets the credit for the 500-strong Irish TransVaal Brigade (it was, in fact, headed by an ex-US cavalryman). MacBride spent much of the war shooting at other Irishmen.

    His next accomplishment was marrying Maud Gonne, and siring on her the ineffable Seán MacBride. He was a drunk and a bully by this stage:

    This other man I had dreamed
    A drunken, vain-glorious lout.
    He had done most bitter wrong
    To some who are near my heart,
    Yet I number him in the song;
    He, too, has resigned his part
    In the casual comedy;
    He, too, has been changed in his turn,
    Transformed utterly:
    A terrible beauty is born.

    His reputation was saved by joining Tomás Mac Donnchadha at Jacob’s biscuit factory (as far as I recall, the IRB kept him in the dark about 1916 — with good reasons implied above). He got his place at Arbour Hill when he was executed at Kilmainham Gaol.

  • Dewi

    Thanks Malcolm – poor Maude and Yeats – what might have been eh?

  • Brian Walker

    We’ve gone a long way from the British cabinet..
    Very influential personally with Harold Macmillan though in a lowly post was the PM’s principal private secretary, Sir Knox Cunningham, MP for S Antrim, of the Northern Whig family. Jim Molyneaux was his constituency secretary.

    If you want some with Irish links generally try Lord Gowrie, a colourful aristo, born Dublin, NI Min of state under Jim Prior, later Chancellor of the Duchy and cabinet member in the mid 80s. Then another perky character Richard Needham, aka Early of Kilmorey, aka Viscount Newry and Mourne author of two very readable books “Honourable Member” and “Battling for Peace: Northern Ireland’s Longest-Serving British Minister” ; an account of his years in Northern Ireland and his contribution to peace. Both men enjoy a jar or two and were good hosts. The Needham estate, Mourne Park, is near Kilkeel in County Down but the title and estate were separated when one Earl inherited the title but opted to live in England after some kerfuffle – I’ve forgotten the details. But (ahem) although later a Trade Minister Needham was never in the cabinet.

    For the historians remember George Canning, briefly PM in 1827 but died within months, a great figure and previously foreign sec. The family income came from an estate near Garvagh but I don’t think he ever visited. His great rival was Lord Castlereagh, the foreign sec before Canning who put together the coalition that defeated Napoleon. He briefly became Marquess of Londonderry before he slit his throat in a fit of depression in 1822 ( see memorabilia at Mount Stewart) He was tough law and order man

    “I met Murder on the way –
    He had a mask like Castlereagh”

    And friends, he was the fixer for the Act of Union 1799-1800. He and Canning fought a duel in 1809, purely out of personal rivalry, Canning receiving a wound in the leg. Imagine the very idea of two politicians with Ulster connections falling out so badly!

  • Dewi

    From Yeats to Shelley….I wonder if Macbride knew Ruth Kelly’s grandad….

  • Greenflag

    ‘And friends, he was the fixer for the Act of Union 1799-1800. ‘

    That he was and also uncle to Robert Fitzroy the captain of HMS Beagle with whom Charles Darwin had to share a cabin with for 5 years 🙁
    Oddly enough Fitzroy’s mission was to seek out evidence for a literal , biblical interpretation of creation . Shades of Mervyn Storey and the ‘modern ‘ DUP as they seek for ‘evidence ‘ of a 6,000 year old earth 🙁 At least Fitzro had the excuse of being alive in the early 19th century .

    During a subsequent debate on ‘evolution ‘ a riot broke out following a put down remark made by T.H Huxley to Samuel Wilberforce, when the latter questioned the former as to whether his chimpanzee antecedents were on his grandfather’s or his grand mother’s side .

    During the ensuing riot Fitzroy was seen wandering around the hall with a Bible held aloft shouting ‘ The Book -The Book ‘

    Some time after he followed the family tradition established by his uncle Viscount Castlereagh by also slitting his throat.

    One wonders if and when the present day ‘creationists’ of the DUP finally have to face the ‘reality’ that the earth is 4 .5 billion years old will they too follow the Castlereagh’s example by removing themselves from a universe which does not agree with the Unionist interpretation of the geological and earth sciences ?

    Most unlikely I’m afraid . This lot wil go to their graves with their heads still heading down the cul de sac of ignorance they were born into and will remain in. Unionism and creationism were made for each other just as much in 2008 as in the 1860’s 🙁

  • Brian Walker @ 04:34 PM:

    Odd, isn’t it, that we remember Castlereagh most immediately because Shelley took the hump over Peterloo? Even then, the blame should belong to Sidmouth: Castlereagh was merely defending the repressions as Leader of the Commons.

    While you pile on him the ignominy of the Union, you might pause to mention his commitment — to the point of resignation from the administration — for Catholic emancipation.

    Were I trying to be confrontational (perish the thought!), I might attempt a neat parallel between Castlereagh after 1815 and any Tory Government one might presently imagine: he favoured a “Europhile” collective security, to the disgust of others. I have seen it postulated that his policies saved Europe from serious conflict for the century until 1914.

    Let me not pass over Byron on Castlereagh. When Castlereagh killed himself (syphilitic madness?), Byron composed two goodies:

    So Castlereagh has cut his throat! The worst
    Of this is, — that his own throat was not the first.
    he has cut his throat at last! He! Who?
    The man who cut his country’s long ago.

    and, even better, (I recall this one for the trouble it got me into in my first teaching post):

    Posterity will ne’er survey
    A nobler grave than this:
    Here lie the bones of Castlereagh:
    Stop, traveller, and p—-

    Dewi @ 04:32 PM:

    In pursuit of further burnishing my lit. crit. credentials, as evidenced immediately above, let me put on record that WBY and Maud Gonne MacBride probably did “get it together”, in December 1908. Certainly Georgie Yeats was convinced they did (see A. Norman Jeffares introductory commentary to The Gonne-Yeats Letters, 1893-1938).

  • Greenflag @ 05:23 PM:

    Nice one.

    This thread is threatening to approach rational levels of discussion. So it’s just as well I got my previous posting in before we’re closed down on the grounds of serious intellect.

  • Greenflag

    malcolm redfellow ,

    ‘This thread is threatening to approach rational levels of discussion.’

    LOL 🙂

    Expecting ‘rational’ discussion on any thread that touches the subject of ‘creationism’ or ‘NI’ is a lot like expecting to reach the horizon . You can at times see it in the distance but the closer you come to it the further away it recedes 🙁

    Castleragh’s efforts on behalf of Catholic Emancipation are generally unknown so thanks for reminding us of this positive side of his character as well as his contributions towards european peace .

  • Dewi

    “his contributions towards european peace . ”

    Shouldn’t that read p*ss not peace a lá Malcolm? Keep it coming – wonderful stuff!!

  • Greenflag

    BW ,

    ‘ R Kelly never said a significant world about it in public, ‘

    I recall reading an article a few years back that said the family (her father had a chemist’s shop) were burnt out of their home/business by a ‘loyalist ‘ mob .

    God be with the good ole days eh . Makes one almost want to vote for TUV or Eirigi next time out’

    Those were the days my friend
    We thought they’d never end
    We’d burn and shoot our way to hell
    We’d live a life of ease
    And only kill to please
    Our leaders , who were sure they know
    the way
    da dee da dee da dee etc 🙁

    With apologies to Russian folk song enthusiasts and erstwhile fans of that little Welsh Eurovision maiden the lovely Mary Hopkins .

  • Dewi

    Once upon a time there was a tavern…

    Codeword: Soviet – absolutely unbelievable in the context of a Russian folk song !!!

  • Dewi

    “WBY and Maud Gonne MacBride probably did “get it together”, in December 1908.”

    Crikey Malcolm did people used to shag in those days ???

  • Nathan

    Devout religionists are very deadly in politics, they are more motivated by personal beliefs and tend to disregard the wider interests of society.

    No-one could say for instance that the divorce legislation in 1920s Ireland benefited society as a whole, it meant an immediate diminution of civil liberties for those who had the courage to stay on.

    That sums it up really, the devout ones can yield more harm than good.

  • Greenflag

    ‘absolutely unbelievable in the context of a Russian folk song ‘

    Alas Dewi there are still Russian former Soviets who miss Uncle Joe 🙁

    Btw -Thanks for the link to Mary Hopkins 🙂

    Wall St may be hovering on the edge of a precipice and the world may be in a state of chassis as the bould Joxer Daly was heard to remark, but as long as we can produce singers like Mary we’ll pull through eh :)- GF exits singing

    ‘keep right on to the end of the road’

    For ‘unionists’ that would read

    ‘keep right on till you run out of road ‘ 😉

  • Devil Eire

    Not entirely on-topic, but the word “devout” in British newspapers has always jumped out at me, since it is most often followed by “Muslim” or “Catholic”, rather than, for example, “Anglican”.

    (By way of data, the Guardian online returns 221 results for exact matches to “devout Catholic”, 187 for “devout Muslim” but just 3 for “devout Presbyterian”, 9 for “devout Anglican” and 4 for “devout Protestant”.)

    These newspapers are signaling to their readership that “this is follower of that OTHER religion: a person hidebound by irrational beliefs in a way that you are not”.

    I don’t necessarily disagree with the sentiment, just its sly exclusivity and disingenuousness.

  • Please, please, tell me there has been a better evening on Slugger than this (OK: she who must be obeyed just allowed the opening of the third bottle). I’ll go looking for it (bottle or evening) instantly.

    La Kelly will not be greatly missed. Agreed?

    Whoops! what’s here? It’s a new arrival: Devil Eire @ 09:13 PM, nice moniker, bad on accents. Hint: top right corner on Macs. Can’t help on PCs.

    To which I say, of the question of “devout”, you weren’t there when two generations of good Protestant non-Catholic Irishmen and Irishwomen were driven to emigration because of their faith liberalism.

  • dewi

    Come on Malcolm it’s been fun!
    U wanna have a glance at the Tyrone football stuff for misery!

  • Devil Eire


    Not new, just very occasional. As for accents, for some reason the usual advice fails when I try in the Name field (using a Mac). Perhaps you can do better? In the meantime it annoys my inner pedant and is therefore good for me.

    Indeed I wasn’t there when two generations etc., but without the benefit of two bottles of your finest, I have no idea where that tangent touches my circle.

  • Brian Walker

    Since we’ve gone so far down the trail it would be perverse to leave out the highest ranking politician of Ulster connexion- From Wikipedia, as I couldn’t remember the exact trail from Portrush to New Brunswick, Glasgow, Coleraine and Glasgow again.. “Of Ulster Scots and Scottish descent, Andrew Bonar Law was born in Rexton, a small village in eastern New Brunswick, Canada. He was the son of the Reverend James Law of Portrush, County Antrim and Annie Kidston, who belonged to a Glaswegian banking family.[1]
    Bonar Law home in Canada where Andrew Bonar grew up (until the age of 12}. The house overlooks the Richibucto River.

    In 1860, Law’s mother died in childbirth. He worked as a boy on his father’s smallholding and for some years after his mother’s death he was in the care of his maternal aunt, Janet Kidston, who lived in her brother-in-law’s household until his remarriage, when she decided to return to her native Scotland. She suggested that it might be to her nephew’s advantage if she were to take him back to Scotland with her, where he would receive a good education, as the Kidstons were a much wealthier and better connected family than the Laws.

    At the age of 12, Law left to live with his late mother’s three male cousins, who were rich merchant bankers in Glasgow. As they were all either unmarried or childless, they saw him as a substitute son and heir. He was educated at Gilbertfield School in Hamilton (1870-1873), and then at Glasgow High School (1873-1875).

    The Kidstons did not wish him to continue to university, and so at the age of 16 he was employed in the offices of their bank. He did later attend night classes at the University of Glasgow, which gave him an interest in politics and debating. At some time during his life time he lived in the presbyterian Manse on Abbey Street in Coleraine, County Londonderry, belonging to 1st Coleraine Presbyterian Church.”

    We recall his threat when Conservative leader of civil war over Home Rule at the Blenheim Palace meeting ( “I cannot imagine any lengths to which I would not go” to support “Ulster” ( approx quote). But worth remembering that although out of office due to the cancer that was to kill him, his support for the Treaty was essential in 1921. An underestimated figure, he was the figure in the engine room during the peak of of WW1 while Lloyd George was on the bridge. He lost 2 sons and his wife in the war, could deliver a budget without a note, and smoked himself to death, serving only a few months as PM in 1922-23. Interesting that so many of these Ulster connected figures came to an abrupt end. His son Richard an anti-Munich rebel MP in 1938 took the title of Lord Coleraine – and presented me with a prize at school. (Just thought you’d like to know).

  • Dewi

    Brian – William Massey surely Limavady’s greatest son. And to be honest Sinn Fein should honour him – I got fed up with their childish antics earlier this year.

  • Greenflag

    BW ,

    ‘Interesting that so many of these Ulster connected figures came to an abrupt end. ‘

    We’ve all heard of the Midas touch which brings prosperity . Now we have the Ulster touch which brings abrupt ends to promising political careers ?

    What next ?

    The ‘Bush’ touch ?

    ‘ Everything you touch turns to shit ‘:(

    Having told American for several years that the economy is strong and healthy he’s now had his mind changed for him by his ‘real boss’ President Paulson

    Perhaps what he needs is the latest Palin touch the recalling of the Kenyan pastor and the driving out of the witches and demons from Wall St . Somehow I can’t see this ‘born again’ driving the ‘moneylenders ‘ from the Temple .