Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear…

This is exactly the kind of mini crisis that eats away at the brand pretension of the new link up between the Conservatives and Ulster Unionists… The Reverend Robert Coulter let the multicultural cat of the bag when he criticised the appointment by the BBC of a practising Muslim as head of Religious Affairs, calling it “a juvenile gimmick”. He went on to say, “according to the Church of England 70% of the UK are Christian, 3% are Muslim yet the BBC for its head of religious broadcast appoints a Muslim”. Well, there is a point there, but it strikes me as being a little out of kilter with Cameron project.Here’s Coulter’s fuller statement:

As a Christian minister, I suppose it comes as no surprise that I find this move unacceptable. The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have already voiced their concerns about this appointment. I am speaking in this instance, however, as an elected public representative. I have no objection to muslim citizens playing their full part in our society or to equality.”

“What I am calling for is common sense. It makes no sense in a country, where 70% of people still describe themselves as Christian, to appoint a non-christian to a key religious position with as much influence as this post carries. I am sure moderate muslim leaders will be deeply concerned about this as well because it will make many UK citizens feel that they are gaining too much influence – for a faith that represents such a small percentage of the whole community. It could well lead to many people developing a more hostile attitude to muslims.”

“The BBC is pursuing a policy of gimmickry. Last year they appointed a member of the Sikh faith as the producer of their most popular and long running religious programme, Songs of Praise. Now we have a muslim as head of religious programming at the BBC. It is insulting to 70% of the people who pay their licence fee.”

“I have great respect for the journalists who work for the BBC and for their professionalism, but I sympathise with them for having to work under managers who pursue policies as silly as these.”

  • Driftwood

    From the same BBC report:

    Later a UUP spokesman clarified that Dr Coulter’s view were not party policy.

    “The UUP is a party open to people of all faiths and none. We are party that firmly believes in equality of opportunity and a party which celebrates the diversity of the modern United Kingdom,” he said.

    “In a free and open society, there cannot be religious tests to hold position in public bodies. This includes the BBC. Staff should be recruited solely on merit.”

  • New Blue

    Just to get in before the crowd.

    I personally completely deplore this comment and am very happy that a party spokesperson quickly and clearly clarified the party position.

    SAMMY (in advance) NO, this is nothing like the Tesco’s thing, there is no ambiguity in relation to the content of Coulters comments

  • Neil

    So individual UU/NF peeps can say as they please, collectively the UU/NF are whiter than white, oops, I mean beyond reproach. Or do the actions of UU/NF councillors have any impact on the party?

    They might as well release a statement saying ‘none of our members who behave like asses are representing UU/NF policy, we UU/NF are good people. We love everyone equally.’

  • New Blue

    Just ghow many of these kinds of things are there going to have to be before you realise your mistake?

    They haven’t changed, they aren’t changing. The only positive change they could make is to wither and die. Do not keep giving them your support.

  • Neil

    So NB, individual UU/NF councillors can say and do as they please and it will have no impact on your view of the party as long as there’s a statement issued distancing the party?

    The UU/NF are the only party of late that have been consistently hammering out the religiously intolerant messages, but hey as long as there’s a statement everything’s hunky dory wha?

  • New Blue


    There are those who certainly don’t make it easy for those of us who are trying to move forward.

    But in politics, as in life, there are those who have personal feelings outside of the ‘party line’.

    I have already placed my condemnation on record here and would expect the party to have a ‘serious chat’ with the gentleman about his comments.

    Having said that, I will continue to support what I believe is the only option for pro-union supporters in Northern Ireland.

    ‘Vote for Change’ must come from within as well.

  • underwood

    “Well, there is a point there…”

    FFS, of course he has a point.
    It is a gimmick, and a pretty obvious one.
    Worse than that, what sort of message does this send about how a tiny minority of about 4% of the population should go about getting attention and influence for itself.
    What precisely is the “Cameron project” policy in relation to the likes of this anyway, seeing as you sneeringly referred to it?

  • Neil

    NB, fair nuff, I have to say I admire your conviction.


    How does this sound to you? BBC appoints Muslim head of religion and ethics, UU/NF representative complains. ‘All people who hold a job should be a member of the demographic that job is aimed at. So from now on all rape councillors have to have been raped, all social workers have to be socialists, and all substance abuse councillors have to be drunk/on drugs’.

    Or is it more non-white, non-prods that cause the UU/NF problems? Off home now but I’ll be back the morra.

  • alan56

    Horseman et al.
    Rev Robert Coulter is correctly referred to as a senior member of UU. Senior in terms of years in the party but hardly one of the most prominent thinkers within UU. Now imagine the story if a senior minister had a policy disagreement with his party leader on something like climate change.That would be a story!

  • Driftwood

    I wish the BBC didn’t have a head of “Religious Affairs” because I think it’s all baloney. I wish they had appointed a white witch or a druid or even Richard Dawkins.
    Coulter should make clear this is his personal opinion.
    BUT, compared to the fundamentalist crap that has been spouted by the DUP over the years, it’s pretty lame stuff.

  • Rory Carr

    Aahh, ‘religious affairs’. I had thought that these were the type of occurrence we read about on page 3 of the Maily Telegraph where the vicar runs off with the choir mistress leaving his poor wife and children to be consoled by the verger.

    I am not so sure that it is a good idea to have anyone appointed to be in charge of this type of behaviour but If we have to I suppose there is no reason why a Muslim shouldn’t be able to give advice on hanky-panky along with the best of them.

    Now that fellow, Randy Ali, who has the kebab shop and chippy up towards Stamford Hill he would be the ideal man for the job. And he votes Tory, so he tells me. “I’m a businessman and concerned about immigration”, is how he explains this lapse in judgement to me.

  • Ahmed did a very good job in commissioning at Channel 4, so I expect he will continue to do so at the BBC.

    Nobody can expect overnight change with UNCUNF, and personally I would rather have Aaqil Ahmed as religious commissioner at the Beeb than have clergy in elected politics.

    How about we cull them from elected politics at the same time as we get rid of our ancient local councillors?

  • Sever

    Rather like the CBeebies presenter missing an arm, this appointment was not on merit alone, nor was Mr Ahmed’s previous position in Channel 4 and his slanted documentary “Christianity: A History”. Anyone who thinks this is simply ignorant, wilfully or otherwise. I say this as an atheist myself.

    The BBC is riddled with identity politics, they’ve completely lost track of what impartiality is. When labour came to power their PC bias was often at least covert, now they’ve degenerated to the point of it being so explicit it’s obvious to just about any thinking person, and even often admitted. I wonder what Cameron’s lot will do them once they get power.

  • pepsi max to the beat

    “How about we cull them from elected politics at the same time as we get rid of our ancient local councillors? ”

    Simple way of doing that: don’t vote for them.

  • “What with having a Sikh producing its most popular and longrunning religious programme, Songs of Praise, ….” David Vance B-BBC

    “Last year they appointed a member of the Sikh faith as the producer of their most popular and long running religious programme, Songs of Praise.” .. Bob Coulter

    Hmmm. Are they by any chance related?

  • ?/

    More tory bigotry, time to sack coulter, dont you agree New Blue?

  • New Blue


    I think I’ve made myself very clear on this one, don’t you?

  • Sever


    Liked this comment from the link,

    “Scott M “Wonder what your thoughts are on the decision by the BBC to appoint a Muslim as head of it’s religious programming?”
    That it doesn’t really matter. That the only people who are going to get upset are bigots.

    He’s right – however small or off-centre a minority is within a given topic area it’s only proper that the BBC should have that minority in charge of that kind of programme. It adds diversity and perspective, and we ought to respect all ranges of opinion, okay?

    So we need:

    a post-op transsexual presenting Woman’s Hour.

    a paraplegic Goth tiddlywinks layer heading up Match of the Day.

    a Creationist controlling the BBC’s science output

    a BNP member commenting on community affairs

    and Nigel Farage editing the BBC’s European Union coverage.

    We don’t need Moslem Brotherhood members commenting on Israel or Socialist Workers doing the economics coverage, as what would the difference be?”

  • Sever

    More tory bigotry

    As if the kind of PC moronity at the Beeb doesn’t count as being bigotry. No such thing as a left wing bigot then is there?

    Seriously I wouldn’t have a problem per se with a Muslim head of religious programming but in the context of the Beeb culture it’s one farce after another. Certainly “merit” is not how the BBC operates, as one would expect from an organisation funding in such a non-competitive way.

    But we’re all supposed to go along and make the right noises to show our “tolerant” credentials like a Free P not mowing his lawn on a Sunday.

  • ??

    new blue should coulter be sacked for his bigotry, and what about Danny kennedys bigotry towards the irish national anthem and the UUP against the GAA in tesco…all so pleasent isnt it

  • New Blue


    Here you go again.

    Either your short-term memory is in need of some spare 32k ram chips or you are purposefully forgetting that I have already answered all these questions.

    Do try to pay attention.

  • a

    I fail to understand how the fellow is supposed to have said anything the least bit controversial.

    If the UUP try to appease those who object to his sensible remarks they are on a fool’s errand.

  • Driftwood

    There is an election coming up.
    If Jim Nicholson, Diane Dodds, Barbara Brown, Jim Allister etc were to say they liked kitkats rather than maltesers, there would be mudslinging.
    That’s the way it goes. everybody knows.
    BTW I’ve got a ticket for Leonard Cohen here in July.
    Happy days:)

  • Dave

    I bet it’s not in the third row directly in front of the stage. 😉

    O2 in Dublin, that is. And the 3rd row is better than the first 2 rows because when the wallys walk in front to take pictures, the perspective ensures that they don’t block your view of the state. Ah, the glory of pre-sales…

    He was brilliant last year, but I’ll be disappointed if he tells the same jokes this time around.

  • Harry Flashman

    Let’s see now a Christian minister in a predominantly Christian country suggests, politely, that it might be better if a Christian was the head of the publicly funded broadcasting corporation.



    It’s the Third Reich all over again I tells ya!

  • Rory Carr

    “I am speaking in this instance, however, as an elected public representative. I have no objection to muslim citizens playing their full part in our society or to equality.” says the Reverend Coulter.

    In much the same way, I imagine, as I cheerfully say, “I have no objection to orderly queueing at bus stops”, providing of course that I am always given pride of place at the front of the queue on account of my venerable status.

  • Neil

    The job this man has, is just that – a job. If he’s qualified then what’s the problem? You cannot deny someone a job simply on the grounds that he and all the other people in the country who look like him and pray to the same God only number 3% of the population.

    Anyway, I don’t need any further information in Christianity. I had that well programmed in while at school, coupled with three rosaries a day in the home, and I know enough of the bible to do me. No, more programming based around Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism that kind of thing. Broaden the old horizons, and get to see some sunshine even it is only on the telly.

  • Paddy Matthews

    It makes no sense in a country, where 70% of people still describe themselves as Christian, to appoint a non-christian to a key religious position with as much influence as this post carries.

    Applying this logic, can we take it that this exclusion would also apply to Jewish people, who form an even smaller minority, and whose supposed excessive influence in society tends to animate another (largely non-overlapping) set of loons?

  • Dev

    Should the minister for agriculture be a farmer? Should the Home Secretary be a former copper? I don’t really see what Coulter’s objection is, the position is the Head of Religious Affairs, it’s probably sensible to have someone with some religious belief but I don’t see why that has to be someone who is a part of the majority religion, how would his brand of religion proclude him from doing as good a job as someone who is Jewish or a christian or whatever? Is there any evidence that this man is in fact terribly incompetent & has only been given the job for the sake of diversity? Whoever held the position would have to accomodate braodcasting that caters for a variety of religious beliefs so why would a Christian, and only a Christian, be any more suited than someone else?

  • Dee

    A previous Head of Religious Programming was Jewish. Did Rev Coulter object then? Cos if he didn’t that might look a bit hypocritical…and if he did, that’s plain old anti-semitism.

    Well done, Bob!

  • Rory Carr

    If, as Clemenceau once declared, “War is too important to be left to the generals” can we not also conclude that the broadcasting of religious affairs is too important to be left only to Christians? After all in our state schools, in England at least, religious education is taught largely as comparative religion and how different religious beliefs are reflected in attitudes to social issues. It is not required that the teacher hold any religious views whatsoever in order to teach the subject, merely that they are capable of delivering the syllabus.

    Religious schools may of course provide deeper instruction in their chosen faith which of course they do as that is their raison d’etre.

  • Sever

    Love all the brainwashed zombies coming out of the woodwork to display their social piety and support the racism and sectarianism of the BBC. All very Animal Farm – “The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”

    A case of a moral compass completely destroyed. Rational thought impossible once the right buttons are pressed.