Speaker’s Chaplain

It would be remiss of me, would it not, if I didn’t pass a teensy bit of comment on this story.

John Bercow, the Speaker, reportedly stepped in to prevent Canon Andrew Tremlett being promoted to the position of Commons Chaplain.

On Sunday, Mr Tremlett, the 46-year-old Canon of Bristol Cathedral, said he was not in a position to comment, but the move was criticised by his congregation. He is said to favour the Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin, a Jamaican-born priest and the current vicar of a hugely deprived parish in east London. She is set to be named within days as the chaplain in the first such appointment to the centuries-old role.

Sources close to the negotiations said Mr Bercow refused to accept “another white middle aged man” and instead wanted a “priest with the personal and popular touch”. Sally Barnes, spokesman for Women and the Church, backed the decision saying Mrs Hudson-Wilkin was a “worthy candidate”. “She is a women with great strengths, abilities and gifts,” she added.

It is the latest controversy to surround the Speaker who has been criticised for refusing to wear the traditional Speaker’s outfit and giving his grace-and-favour Westminster apartment a £45,000 refit.

Do you know what disturbs me about this. It’s not Rose Hudson-Wilkin isn’t by all accounts terrifically good at what she does, and if you’re going to have a female chaplain she’s so obviously the lady for the job. No, it’s the fact that a white, male, middle-class man says he doesn’t want a white, male, middle-class man doing the job. But it’s not just the frightening irony and hypocrisy of the thing. Imagine if Bercow had been reported saying he didn’t want a black woman doing the job?

If I were Canon Tremlett I would sue for discrimination of grounds of sex and race. Does anybody know if one could lodge an official complaint with the police?

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