I've only met Ruth Kelly once and it seems like a very long time ago. We had dinner together with my friend Matthew Laza at Matthew's mum's house in Chester in September 1995. I was touring the country as Labour Students National Secretary running freshers' fayre recruitment stalls, and Ruth was staying in Chester whilst seeking the parliamentary selection there. She didn't get selected in Chester but went on to win her seat in Bolton. My memory of meeting her then was of a very bright and serious individual so I am not surprised that in the meantime she has gone on to hold three different cabinet jobs.
She has also managed to bring up a family of four with her husband Derek Gadd, who as Lambeth & Southwark Labour Organiser in the '90s went out of his way to befriend and mentor me and other newly appointed younger full-time Labour agents.
They are a fundamentally decent couple and so I was shocked by the churlish reaction to Ruth's announcement she will be quitting as Transport Secretary from Mary Honeyball MEP on her blog here.
Mary Honeyball seems determined to conduct the debate about the fertilisation and embryology bill in a vituperative, personalised and aggressive way. This is the latest in a series of offensive blog posts and articles she has written attacking Catholic Labour MPs and Ministers for their deeply held beliefs on this subject - beliefs that are central to their faith.
I'm an atheist and I am pro-choice on abortion and would support the current bill, but it ought to be an absolute given that we respect the religious beliefs of others on moral issues before Parliament and reject the sort of anti-Catholic prejudice Mary Honeyball has been expressing towards Ruth Kelly.