Squires, Socialists, and Whigs-in-disguise

02 November 2006


From Mr J. Alan Smith
Sir, — The Revd Dr Giles Fraser writes (Comment, 13 May): “The fundamental problem for the Conservatives is that they are two parties forced together in a marriage of convenience.” Such an analysis is not new: all parties are, to an extent, coalitions, and this is particularly true of a party like the Conservatives with a history going back to the 17th century. However, his identification of the two parties as “squires” and “pinstripes” is rather inept, since the squires put aside their tweeds and put on pinstripes when in town.

Perhaps he would care to conduct a similar analysis on the Labour Party: Very Old Labour, who may still exist, who saw grammar schools as a mechanism for achieving social mobility; the Marxists, who wish bright working-class children to remain in the working class in order to work for the revolution rather than to better themselves for their own benefit and for that of society; and the Whigs, often educated at public schools, who worked for the abolition of grammar schools in order to keep the lower orders from getting above themselves.
40 Albany Court, Epping, Essex CM16 5ED

From the Revd Steven Saxby
Sir, — The Revd Dr Jeremy Morris’s comment that F. D. Maurice’s “Christian Socialism had little to do with theoretical Socialism, with Marx and the redistribution of property” (Features, 20 May) could also apply to the Christianity of Messrs Blair and Brown, and, indeed, to the so-called Christian Socialist Movement.

But there was a strong tradition, more inspired by William Morris than F. D. Maurice, of theoretical Christian Socialism in Britain, which expressed itself in the Guild of St Matthew, the Church Socialist League, and elsewhere.

Are there any theoretical Christian Socialists left? If so, perhaps the time has come to organise. Socialism in the UK is in need of a re-injection of Christian Socialism. What of re-founding the Church Socialist League a hundred years after its original foundation in 1906?

If any comrades are out there, I should like to hear from them.
c/o Peterhouse, 122 Forest Rise, Walthamstow E17 3PW

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