THE CHANCELLOR, Gordon Brown, received a cautious welcome from church leaders and aid agencies as he began his campaign to secure the office of Prime Minister.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, as quoted in The Sunday Times, said that Mr Brown would have “a strong sense of the moral priorities of the nation.
“I am thinking of all he’s done on debt relief and the international finance facility.”
Christian Aid, appealing to Mr Brown’s moral sense, and his considerable achievements in reducing the developing world’s debt burden, said: “He should make debt-cancellation by all rich countries possible in his first 100 days of power.”
He should also challenge the “war on terror”, use the G8 and the UN to put Darfur at the top of the agenda, ensure the viability of the Palestinian state, reform the IMF and World Bank, and open rich markets to poor countries without expecting them to reciprocate, said Charles Abugre, head of global advocacy at Christian Aid.
The agenda of Cafod’s deputy head of public policy, Alex Robertson, mirrored this. “If, as expected, he becomes Prime Minister, his priorities are to stem the leakage of international influence that has dogged the UK since the invasion of Iraq, and show a new willingness to put global justice at the heart of wider UK foreign policy.”
Both called on Mr Brown to strengthen Britain’s Climate Change Bill to increase the carbon emissions reduction from 60 per cent to 80 per cent.
Mr Brown sketched his vision of a meritocratic Britain, with a shared sense of purpose and fairness for all, when he announced his bid for the leadership.
“One of my first acts as Prime Minister would be to restore power to Parliament,” he said.
He wanted all people in power to be accountable. He said his father was a church minister and was, with his mother, his “moral compass”.
“They taught me the importance of integrity and decency, treating people fairly, and duty to others.
“I come back again and again to what I learned as I grew up — my father’s belief, his fundamental optimism. He used to tell me that in our country each and every one of us had talent, each of us should have the chance to develop that talent, and each us had a duty to use that talent.” Gordon Brown came into politics out of faith in people, he said — “and a belief that Britain can lead the world”.
The Revd Joel Edwards, general director of the Evangelical Alliance, said: “I challenge him to reach beyond the public apathy to clearly support not only the community benefits of faith, but also the values which inform the activities of faith leaders.”
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