Church’s verdict on Labour: Moral, but no compass

They say that good manners means not discussing religion or politics, which would leave my family very short of conversation… Brother Phil is a vicar, mum Pat is a lay minister, while my dad Ken spent many years as a church warden and pastoral assistant, and still helps run various church groups. That’s in the years since his time as a Labour councillor. So religion and politics are entwined in our lives, public service mixed with Sunday services.

Despite our best efforts, the Church of England used to be characterised as the Tory party at prayer. That all changed in the 1980s with Faith in the City, which condemned the Thatcher government’s attacks on society, and set up the Church Urban Fund. There’s an Islington connection in that David Sheppard, the then Bishop of Liverpool who helped produce the report, had been a curate at St Mary Islington; and the Neighbourhood Centre at St Mary’s was one of many projects that benefitted from the Church Urban Fund.

What with AngloCatholic Tony and son of the manse Gordon, you would think that the church might be happier with Labour in power. But as the Gospel says, by their fruit shall you know them. Under Labour, we have seen the illegal war in Iraq, the gap between rich and poor has grown, the red carpet is rolled out for dodgy regimes, and the most vulnerable in society, from asylum seekers to the mentally ill, are victimised.

Now a new report confirms that even the pro-faith language from government doesn’t mean much in practice, as far as the C of E is concerned. It’s good to see that the established church isn’t afraid to criticise the establishment…

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4 Comments »

  1. lunartalks said

    As any sailor will tell you, a compass is little use if you don’t have an idea of your destination, and a chart (map to landlubbers) on which to plot your course and to warn you of dangers.

    Labour seems to have neither right now and, to keep the analogy going the tide seens to be against them. Although in not canning Ms Spelman Dave may be doing them a small favour.

  2. Many thanks for the Matthew 7 perspective. As I read it I realise how profoundly it reflects my disappointment, as someone who started out quite sold on the 1997 new dawn. I never expected or wanted Tony Blair to “do God” in a religious Right kind of way, but I didn’t expect them to get rid of all the Claire Shorts and Frank Fields, and then go out and kill hundreds of thousands of innocent people in Iraq, illegally to boot. Neither did I expect the poor to get poorer in comparative terms, whilst the rich prospered. My disappointment is not about giving the Church a better place at the table as a voluntary organisaton. It’s about the huge gap between rhetoric and execution. It’s a sad, sad story…

  3. Red Maria said

    It’s not only Anglicans who feel this way. Your RC siblings do too. See here: http://www.thinkingfaith.org/articles/20080514_1.htm

  4. bridgetfox said

    Bishop Alan: thank you for your comments (not least because you are my parents’ bishop!). I have also picked up on this theme in my Guardian blog this week. http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/politics/2008/06/labour_rebels_must_do_the_righ.html

    Red Maria: That is an excellent article – thank you for the link.

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