From Mr Richard Darlington
Sir, - It seems to me that the election result was simply
because the electorate wanted certainty. All the media talked about
how a hung Parliament made everything seem uncertain, and no party
had a chance if they could not be seen to provide a sure
government. Labour could not do that with the expected loss of
Scottish seats to the SNP, but the Conservatives could.
The Liberal Democrat losses and the other minor parties' failure
to make gains were simply collateral damage. It is a shame that a
successful coalition will now be seen to be a bad thing, and I am
fearful for how further welfare cuts will hurt the most vulnerable.
David Cameron's "One Nation" sounds good, but the cuts will divide
the nation even more, indicating that the Tories are out of touch
with how many are suffering.
Interestingly, there has apparently been a sudden surge of
membership for the Lib Dems since the results came out. This is
rather like what happened to the SNP after the Scottish
1 The Woods,
Oldham OL4 4LP
From the Revd Mike Plunkett
Sir, - After the General Election, some of the victors were
saying that the devoted work of the local party had influenced
their success; but the reality is that, regardless of any local
influence, the mood of the country had moved, and moved in the same
way everywhere. In fact, it is the mood of the times and the spin
doctors that decide how the voting changes.
I am sure that all your readers will acknowledge that we are
called to follow Christ, and this entails seeking and praying
ourselves into the mind of Christ. This means that church people
should be a group throughout society who are judging by drastically
different criteria and challenging those around them.
Whether it's sheep and goats, the scroll of Isaiah in the
synagogue, or the Sermon on the Mount, the mind of Christ produces
people like Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He stood against the greatest
spin-doctor operation of all time.
I would like to suggest that the English Churches are lacking in
their ability to influence the mood and spin of the nation. We
should urgently follow the example of the German Churches, which,
following their shame after the war, founded a yearly event
involving thousands - these days in the order of 150,000 -of
members from across the country in an event that examines national
life and is attended by the principal politicians. One year it is
Protestant, the Kirchentag, and the next year Catholic, the
1 The Ridge,
Shropshire SY9 5AB
From Canon Mike Williams
Sir, - We have been let down badly by the Bishops, who gave us
the advice in their open letter before the election calling for
balance. They argued for a balance between Thatcherism and a
welfare state. What they should have given us was a real vision of
a 21st-century Christian sociality where each person is equally
honoured, resourced, and respected.
Not only is the doctrine of balance theologically false, with no
place in the Bible: it is politically naïve. Nick Clegg fought his
campaign on the idea of balance. He argued that he had achieved
something like a balance in coalition, and that he would stand for
balance whatever happened after the election. He has been
Ed Miliband in his own way wanted a balance. He seemed to be
saying that, on the one hand, we had to support a neo-liberal
economic system, while, on the other, modify it for those who were
disadvantaged by it. He also has been rejected.
We live in a country where most people are comfortably off. We
have a reasonable lifestyle, and most voters voted to protect it.
This leaves the minority on the margins. In a democratic system,
the marginalised have no chance of changing the system that
marginalises them. It is the welfare state that has made the middle
class; now the middle class wants to desert the marginalised for
whom it was invented.
A bishop is to be a teacher. As a Christian community, we need
teachers who are prepared to come off the fence and to lead a
search for a truly Christian understanding of society. This will
demand courage. It may even mean alienating some who want to defend
an economic system that automatically leads to the rich getting
richer and the poor getting poorer. I am sure that in his own
context Jesus would have called this Mammon. You cannot serve God
We need to applaud those churches that support foodbanks, credit
unions, and charities, but this is not enough. We have to name the
beast, nail our colours to the mast, and risk everything for a
fundamental Christian vision of social justice.
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