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DAILY POST YOUR VOICE IN WALES: You can't tell people what not to wear; OPINION/WALES.

SEVERAL explanations have been offered for Jack Straw's removal from the Foreign Office in the Cabinet clear-out that followed Labour's English local election fiasco in May.

Was statesman supreme Tony Blair jealous of his close associate's close association with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice?

Had Straw - so loyal in defence of British strategy in Iraq - gone "off message" with his flat refusal to endorse military action against Iran? One conspiracy theory even suggests George Bush got his sidekick to sack Straw over comments that a rumoured Washington contingency plan for a nuclear strike plan on Iran was nuts.

Straw himself would have it believed he simply wanted a break from the sharpest end of Government after the best part of a decade at the Home and Foreign Offices.

His expressed desire that Muslim women in Britain should no longer wear a veil has cancelled expectations of a quieter life, leaving us to ask: does Straw know what he wants or does he even know what he is doing?

Perhaps this clumsy attempt to engage in the debate over improving relations in a multi-cultural society marks his true worth as a statesman.

A more talented man would have seen that such a comment would be seen as an attempt to constrain the freedom of Muslim women to choose how they dress.

Telling people what to wear and how to follow their cultural custom is thankfully not within the gift of politicians - and certainly not in the environment of a constituent seeking help or advice from their elected parliamentary representative.
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Oct 7, 2006
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