Thursday 4 October 2012

Was Cardinal O'Brien insulted?

I know bloggers are supposed to project an air of omniscience in which no topic, however arcane, or no piece of tittle tattle, however exclusive to the Holyrood village, is unsuitable material on which to exercise our nearly infinite intellects... But I really have absolutely no idea where this came from and where it's going to.

THE Scottish Government yesterday dismissed claims that the lead researcher on its same-sex marriage consultation “insulted” Christian views and was 
rude about Cardinal Keith O’Brien.

The allegations surfaced in a parliamentary question tabled by Michael McMahon, the Labour MSP for Uddingston and Bellshill.

Mr McMahon asked the Scottish Government about its position on “reports that the lead researcher on its consultation on civil partnership and same-sex marriage ‘insulted and belittled’ Christian views while preparing the report and ‘directed obscenities’ at Cardinal Keith O’Brien in the presence of other members of the analysis team.”

The reports were denied by Alex Neil, the minister in charge of the gay marriage legislation.

[The Scotsman]

It's all very unclear. Is it claimed that the researcher insulted him face to face? Or did s/he (the name on the consultation report is Lucy Robertson) simply badmouth him afterwards in office chat? (Given the usual mindset of those non-Catholics with a social science background in Scotland, it'd probably be more of a story if s/he hadn't badmouthed him.)

It'd be hard to demonstrate any bias in the report. Those of us who were naive enough to think there might be some engagement with the substance of our arguments won't have got much out of the finished article which is simply an analysis of the responses with no attempt to engage critically with any of the views. I'm not sure bias in wielding scissors and paste would be evident. The report fails to engage critically with the issues, but that could be said by both sides of the argument. They'd made up their minds. It was a mere formality.

Anyway, official report of the Parliamentary question here.

To ask the Scottish Government what its position is on reports that the lead researcher on its consultation on civil partnership and same sex marriage "insulted and belittled" Christian views while preparing the report and "directed obscenities" at Cardinal Keith O’Brien in the presence of other members of the analysis team.

Answered by Alex Neil (02/10/2012): < >We have received no evidence to suggest that the lead analyst in relation to this consultation "insulted and belittled" Christian views and "directed obscenities" at Cardinal O'Brien. The analysis,, reflects the points made by Christians and others who responded to the consultation. The government is satisfied that the analysis of responses to the consultation reflects accurately and fairly the comments that were made by consultees responding to the consultation.

Current Status: Answered by Alex Neil on 02/10/2012


  1. Oh well, if they 'received no evidence' that clearly settles it - not :)

  2. Yes, sounds like an extensive investigation, doesn't it?!