Tuesday 17 February 2009

DANGER: hazards, perils and risks ahead

 deep water





danger stay out

the sea can kill
















Signs like these aim to protect the unwary, the foolhardy and the vulnerable. More often than not they are in fact memorials to the unfortunate ones who did not know of or did not heed the danger ahead. As such they speak of tragedy and grief and are testaments to the cruel reality of finding out the hard way.

And it is a bitterly hard thing to watch history repeating itself; to see the danger signs being ignored and warnings going unheeded. To be absolutely honest with you, that is how I feel at the prospect of a Conservative government. The thought chills me to the core. Memories of the Thatcher years are unpleasant and horrifying to contemplate. Conservative philosophy spawned the City greed-culture which has now wrecked the economy, and systematically rewarded the rich and well-off. It did this at the same time as it was ruining the lives of millions of ordinary working people and condemning many to poverty. The Have's had a great time whilst the Have-Not's wept with frustration, despair and anger. The film 'Brassed Off' perfectly caught the mood of those years.  New Labour came to power in 1997 with an ideological vision of a fairer, more just and inclusive Britain. The betrayal of that dream is a bitter pill to swallow. I am genuinely fearful of what will happen should a party rooted in an ethos of  privilege, status and wealth form the next government. And I say this because I am a Christian who takes Jesus seriously when he speaks of being  'good news for the poor' and identifies himself with the lowest and the least in society. His was a grass-roots gospel of empowerment and equality which threatened the mighty.

To the Tories I simply ask that you heed the warning signs and lessons of the past and give good, careful attention to the dangers of an individualistic approach which ignores the mutualities, responsibilities and interdependencies which make for a healthy society. Tax cuts and incentives for savers and homeowners are as much use as a chocolate teapot if you are out of work, on a very low income or don't have a house of your own. Cuts in essential services and welfare hurt hardest those who should be most protected. You talk of being compassionate, show us you understand the cash value of the word and are prepared to prioritise accordingly.

To the Labour government I say for Christ's sake wake up and rediscover the meaning of that ideology and vision, passion and courage upon which you swept to power in 1997, and remember the blood, sweat and tears of the working class from which you were hewn.

I make no apology for this post. I have decided to be frank and pin my colours to the mast. And to those of you who are offended by what I have written and would wish me ill, please think on these words of Jesus: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” (Luke 4:18-19)  Christians try their best to put this into practice. It is what being faithful looks like.


  1. IMHO, the core issue with any form of politics is that of integrity (or the lack of it). I wish there were more people in active politics who merited following. Instead, the parties seem to be awash with people who neglect the very reason they were placed in a position of influence and responsibility - to speak for the voiceless, to have a duty of care for the abandoned and ignored. A government is there to govern, not to rule; to represent, not to ignore.

    I think also that there should be a remembering of the value of idealism in both the church and politics - to aim for the best is not foolish, but ambitious. It is a declaration that things can improve, that what we now see as reality is not all that there can be. Idealism shouts to the world that things do not have to stay the same, that tomorrow can be different from today. William Wilberforce believed something like this and look what he did! The church should be showing the way in exhibiting and demanding both integrity and idealism. There now, I've finished.

  2. I couldn't agree more Duncan. Well said!

  3. As another for whom the return or even the threat of a return to Thatcherism/ a Conservative Government finds chills creeping up her spine, and one who sat up all night to watch the 1997 election results roll in I agree with this post wholeheartedly!

    As for idealism, and the bitterness experienced when hopes are dashed I guess this is part of lifes experience whenever human beings are involved.

    Jesus identification with the poor is so important for us to follow ( Spirit empowered is the oly way I come close!), but we must keep trying and serving and following, and we must speak out against injustice!