THE Prime Minister, fresh from his election victory, has been
warned not to listen to "harsh, strident voices", but to lighten
burdens and "build one nation".
Last Friday, David Cameron celebrated the "sweetest victory of
all", defying the polls by securing an outright majority in a
General Election that had been widely predicted to be
The Bishop of Sheffield, Dr Steven Croft, in a blog post written
at the start of this week, counsels him to "reach out to the whole
nation, to connect with the disaffected, to listen to the people
and to be their servant".
The Bishop warns: "There will be those who see the Conservative
majority as a mandate to fulfil and go beyond the manifesto
commitments, blind to the risk of increasing the burdens of those
who already bear the heavy load (of sickness, disability or the
struggle to find sustainable employment)."
Dr Croft recommends that the Prime Minister abolish the
so-called bedroom tax - "it has generated more resentment than
revenue"; promise an early review of benefits sanctions - and
exempt families with children, and people suffering from mental
ill-health; and "revisit the Big Society ideas. . .
"Place active partnership, between national and local government
and the faith and voluntary sector, front and centre again, not as
a replacement of government initiative but complementary to
In another blog, the Bishop of Leeds, the Rt Revd Nick Baines,
suggested that the Bishops' pre-election pastoral letter had gone
largely ignored by the parties.
"The trading of policies almost daily was embarrassing and,
sometimes, confusing," he wrote. "Much of the rhetoric on all sides
was competitive obfuscating mirage - and apparently based on the
assumption that a market society (as opposed to a market economy)
is what we have all now settled for. If we have, we are
The Church must, he said, "continue pressing our politicians for
the vision that fires their policies. . . We need to keep on
questioning whether the economy is there for people, or people
there for the economy."
The mood of Church of England bishops judging by Twitter was, by
and large, glum. "What the UK electoral system needs most it is now
unlikely to get: PR," wrote the Bishop of Sodor & Man, the Rt
Revd Robert Paterson.
The Bishop of Chelmsford, the Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, tweeted:
"All manner of things may not be quite as well as some of us hoped.
Julian of Norwich pray for us."
In a letter to The Guardian on Monday signed
by religious leaders, Mr Cameron was urged to introduce a
"tax-dodging bill" in the first 100 days of his term to "close
loopholes and further protect the interests of people in Britain
and in developing countries".
The result of the election - the Conservative Party secured 331
seats to Labour's 232 - came as no surprise to Colin Bloom, chief
executive of the Conservative Christian Fellowship. The British
people had "voted for competence", he said. The retention of seats
by Christians, including David Burrowes in Enfield and John Glen in
Salisbury, "will mean that kingdom values will remain at the heart
of this Government".
While "absolutely delighted" with the Conservative majority, Mr
Bloom was also "conscious that very many good people from various
parties have found themselves now out of public service".
He paid particular tribute to the leader of the Labour Party in
Scotland, Jim Murphy, who was ousted by his SNP opponent as part of
a huge landslide for the nationalists, who took 56 out of the
country's 59 seats. The Liberal Democrats had, by joining his party
in coalition, "put national interest ahead of short-term political
Nick Clegg resigned as leader of the Liberal Democrats last
Friday. The results had been "immeasurably more crushing and unkind
than I could ever have feared". The party now has just eight MPs,
down from 58 in 2010.
A favourite to succeed him is Tim Farron, who won Westmorland
and Lonsdale with a comfortable majority. Mr Farron has described
his Christian conversion at the age of 18 as "fundamental and
Page Interview, 20 May 2011).
The Labour leader Ed Miliband also resigned on Friday, taking
"absolute and total responsibility for our defeat", before adding
that the "issue of our unequal country will not go away . . . The
fight goes on and, whoever is our new leader, I know Labour will
keep making the case for a country that works for working people
Andy Flannagan, director of Christians on the Left, said that he
was "obviously disappointed" by the result, but "very positive
about the future, and the role we can play in reshaping the Labour
The result had shown, he suggested, "the difference in scale
between the air war and the ground war". The Labour Party had
undertaken five million conversations on the phone or doorstep. He
laid the blame at the door of Conservative newspapers.
He had been encouraged, however, by both a surge in membership
of Christians on the Left and the "unprecedented" number who were
standing as candidates, including 24 seeking election for the first
time. Victories included that of Catherine Smith, who unseated the
Conservatives in Lancaster & Fleetwood.
He cited as an example of what Christianity could bring to
Labour the victory of Stephen Timms in East Ham, who secured 78 per
cent of the vote.
"You can see what can happen when a Labour candidate is able to
speak the language of faith to Christians and also a large Muslim
population. . . We have lot to bring to the party to make sure,
both in politics and communications, we are working with people of
faith, and those who have a real contribution to make to left of
In his victory speech, Mr Cameron articulated his belief that
"We're on the brink of something special in our country: we can
make Britain a place where a good life is in reach for everyone who
is willing to work and do the right thing."
After a General Election in which churches hosted nearly 350
hustings, Christians have been urged not to disengage from
"Christians face the very real temptation to slip back into a
form of political passivity, and it is absolutely essential we
resist this temptation," the chief executive of CARE, Nola Leach,
said on Monday.
Mr Cameron has appointed Caroline Dinenage as a Minister for
Equality. She voted against the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Bill in
2013, and said that the state had "no right" to introduce it.
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