Jack Straw has beautifully illustrated that fundamental Labour inability to respect individuality. If he finds it difficult to communicate with women who are wearing a veil, then I would suggest it is he who has the problem.
Where would you draw the line? One could argue that wearing a Celtic shirt in certain parts of Glasgow is "a visible statement of separation and of difference." I've been the only Lib Dem wearing a rosette at a count surrounded by Labour people. Maybe Jack would say I should just have conformed and joined Labour so I was the same as everybody!
You would never find me wearing either a veil or a Celtic shirt (I'm not picking on Celtic, by the way, I could just have easily have used the other lot as an example) but I worry very much when politicians show such blatant contempt for individual expression.
We should respect each other's right to show whatever allegiances, interests or beliefs we hold dear. We might not like them, but so what. Labour have never been able to really understand diversity, which is a shame as we can all learn something from other cultures and ideas. To close your mind to dialogue because of what someone is wearing is to lose the opportunity to understand and share.
There are times when I truly despair of that lot being in charge of civil rights issues.