QUESTIONED about his party's alleged shift to the authoritarian
Right, David Lammy, the Labour MP for Tottenham, told a summit held
by Christians on the Left on Tuesday night that it had always been
a "coalition of interests".
A similar definition could apply to the diverse group of people
who attended the summit. A session chaired by Stephen Beer,
political communications officer for Christians on the Left, was
attended by a diverse group including a campaigner for the freedom
of street artists, keen to hear why he shouldn't defect from Labour
to the further-left Green Party; a young woman involved in
anti-fracking protests who suggested that her generation was
"disgusted" by politics; and a local Labour organiser who warned
that Christians were regarded as "part of the system".
There were discussions at a plenary session about how open
Christians should be about the faith that motivated to them to
social action. The chief executive of Christians Against Poverty,
Matt Barlow, reported that just ten per cent of those helped by the
charity went to church, but suggested that "If we all did all of
this work and nobody came to faith, that would be a complete and
The Shadow Employment Minister, Stephen Timms, was among the MPs
who addressed the 120 people who packed the London City Mission
Community Centre, also home to the Vauxhall Food Bank.
"We need to point out to churches that their mission of tackling
poverty . . . for that to be done seriously requires political
change as well, which only Labour can deliver," he said. "But we
also need to point out to Labour the value and importance of the
contribution that churches are making and the importance of
listening to the perspective that churches are bringing."
Among those working directly with needy people who brought their
stories to the summit were the chief executive of the Trussell
Trust, Chris Mould, and the chief executive of Housing Justice,
Alison Gelding, both of whom spoke about the value of solidarity
and its roots in the Bible and church teaching. Local activism was
well represented by David Barclay, who is campaigning to help
communities tackle the mushrooming of payday lenders on their high
Also present were members whom Christians on the Left were
helping to embark on a career in politics, including Suzy Stride, a
Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Harlow.
The evening was concluded by a talk from Mr Lammy, who described
a visit last Friday from a 22-year-old constituent who was sleeping
on night buses after falling into arrears and losing her council
"Christians, I hope, understand the idea of personal
responsibility, but we must also understand second chances, youth,
and seek to be a country in which we have the compassion and
empathy to ask deeper questions," he said.
All's not well for Welfare State
by Tim Wyatt
ONE in four people does not think that Britain will have
a recognisable Welfare State in 30 years, research by Theos
The religious think tank's study found that a further 34
per cent of people surveyed expected the Welfare State to shrink in
size in coming years.
Eighty-seven per cent of people agreed with the
statement "The welfare state is currently facing severe problems,"
and 68 per cent said they agreed that "Welfare benefits should be a
safety net for only the poorest in society."
The figures were released to mark the publication of a
report by Theos, The Future of Welfare, which
includes contributions from the Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain
Duncan Smith, and the Labour MP Frank Field, among
The director of Theos, Elizabeth Oldfield, said:
"Contributors agree that we do have a moral responsibility for each
other. . . However, there was also general agreement that people
need to be able to connect what they put in to what they get out,
and that this has been lost over recent decades."