When Norman Tebbit called me a Marxist

02 November 2006


From Canon Dr Alan Billings
Sir, — In your article for the 20th anniversary of Faith in the City ( Features, 2 December), you say that Lord Tebbit always denied dubbing the report "Marxist".

I think this is a little disingenuous. On late-evening TV in the week of publication, he dismissed the report by referring to me as the Marxist deputy leader of Sheffield City Council. Colleagues on the council found this hugely amusing, since I was seen by them as right-wing. My inner-city ward was under constant attack from Militant.

The report had considerable influence on theological education. I was asked to go to Cuddesdon by John Garton to set up a training house in an urban priority area. I did this by persuading former colleagues to let the college rent a council house on the Manor estate in Sheffield.

Other colleges made similar arrangements. But, more particularly, it had the effect of making educators pay much more attention to context in theology.

Centre for Ethics and Religion, Lancaster University, Lancaster LA1 4YG

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