Friday, 15 February 2008

Allmedia Scotland: Rowan Willams: Right on the Money, Wrong on the Message

[...] Anyone who has known a separating Catholic couple will know that, in the process of parting, they will seek not only a civil divorce but also an annulment which, under Canon law, means proving retrospectively that there are grounds under which the marriage was never valid.

Military law is another parallel legal code, which possesses even greater impact given that military courts have the power to sentence subjects to imprisonment in military courts.

There are others besides - International Maritime Law, Human Rights legislation, International Air Laws - at different times in the lives of many they are subject, whether they know it or not, to laws which sit alongside the ones they believe they understand.

The best method to make his, entirely accurate, case would have started with the Archbishop couching his words somewhat causally and, with his first breath, paying respect to Parliament and the laws of the land.

There may be an initial emotional response to talk of foreign laws; however, this could have been defused by mixing Shariah in with a whole heap of other legal codes which are real but, to most, have zero everyday impact on everyday life.

As a politico, Rowan Williams should also have doffed his mitre to the British people and, more especially, their opinion. Even the producers of Pop Idol have mastered this basic tenet of messaging. His use of the term, ‘unavoidable’, smacks of foregone conclusions and a sense that the public will not be consulted.

When the Prime Minister finally got round to consoling the Archbishop, as well as letting it be known he disagreed (we are not sure what was said exactly but it was reported thus).

He would, I am sure, have shed some light on the point which resonates throughout this rather silly saga and which as a leviathan of New Labour’s spin machine, the Prime Minister would appreciate.

It is a message, which political spin doctors since the time of Plato have understood: method trumps message, every time.

Mark Morley is a former director of communications for the Catholic Church (England and Wales). He has also worked for VisitScotland, Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Conservative Party. Read more
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

from John Deakin, London

The author of this article should not be employed to advise the Archbishop (or anyone else for that matter). His assertions about RC Canon Law and Military Law demonstrate a complete failure to understand the subject. The former is an entirely voluntary system, while the latter is part of the law of the UK.

Dr Williams was arguing that Sharia should be the latter rather than the former. Though he is now trying to insist that he meant nothing at all.