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2.10.13

A little bit of Politics

So the English Party Conference season is over, and I am not sure many of my questions have been answered. Over the years I have been member of two different political parties and two different think tanks. I pastorally support active members of different parties.


At the heart of my politics these days is a distrust of the market. This is personal and theological. From the theological perspective I see in the Old Testament economic system the principle of Jubilee, a correction to the free transfer of property and over indebtedness that can occur in a free market. From a personal point of view I am a member of a profession that the market values lowly despite a high level of responsibility and training. This is not an argument for higher clergy pay, but an acknowledgement that what I consider to be the one of the most valuable jobs on earth is not highly valued by capitalism. I could go in to how other related professions are also not valued highly but let's keep it simple - the market does not accurately acknowledge peoples value in and to society.




Let's make it even more personal. As a highly trained professional I cannot afford the education and healthcare that I enjoyed as a child (my Father was a successful small business man from a working class family), and I am called to a supposedly simple life. So purely from self-interest I am keen on high quality stated funded healthcare and education and I would be very happy to pay more tax to deliver it. Probably another 10% more tax. From another personal selfish point of view I still cant see a practical way to buy a house for retirement - one that I would be unable to live in at present. There are plenty of well paid professionals in the same boat who would be living in their house. Perhaps we need to get over the whole idea of owning property, and adopt a European renting culture - but this must be affordable.

Welfare is also important to me. I absolutely recognise that we need to move back to a system of National Insurance. However some of the people I see suffering at the moment have paid dearly into the system and are now not getting out what they have paid for. Whilst creating a culture that pays people not to work is damaging, crushing poverty does not lead to people getting back on their feet either. We need a new culture of work and wealth creation that goes beyond what is offered by our current system. Going back to the Old Testament system we see principles of subsidiarity and localism in play. I certainly support efforts to apply these in a modern context, although I am uncertain litter picking has the same work satisfaction as gleaning. We also have the problem of huge inequalities of wealth and potential for work in different regions. Moving people for work undermines family and society.

Which brings us finally to One Nation. I have had the pleasure of dining in houses with dining rooms larger than the houses rented by other people I have dined with. In some cases the only thing that these people from different backgrounds shared in common seemed to be me. Our society looks to be becoming more divided and not less. Again a cultural shift is required which I am unsure if any political party can muster, and has traditionally been found in the fires of Christian renewal.

Until then I will stick with my present political party.