Showing posts with label Conservative. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Conservative. Show all posts

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

CONSERVATIVES THAT CHANGED THE WORLD - RONALD REAGAN


From time to time, I will be writing about different Conservatives that have changed the world for the better. There are people that are more expert than I on the lives and times of these amazing people, so whilst you won't find an exhaustive biography here, you will find a small, colourful vignette or two from the tapestry of their extraordinary lives. If you have an anecdote, story or picture that you would like me to add, I will be pleased to consider your submissions via the comment section.

by Colin Bloom

Like many people in the UK who are now north of 40 years old, I recall with massive fondness the latex puppetry of Luck and Flaw in the riotous Sunday night comedy Spitting Image. Like all politicians, left or right, Ronald Reagan's every foible was exaggerated to make him a grotesque of comic brilliance. 


Such is my admiration for 'the Gipper' that amongst the Reagan memorabilia in my possession, I have hanging somewhere in Bloom towers my cherished and original 1984 Reagan re-election poster. A piece of political hardware that helped propel my hero to a landslide victory, winning 49 of the 50 States, with 59% of the popular vote. Compare that to Barack Obama, who managed 28 states and 53% and 26 states and 51% in 2008 and 2012 respectively. In fact there hasn't been a President as popular since Richard Nixon's re-election in 1972. Yes, we often forget just how popular Tricky Dicky was during his second term, and I suspect that he may well, in time, find his way into this series before long.

There are many things that set Reagan apart for me, such as his 1987 Berlin Wall speech to Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev to "tear down this wall!" Or the fact that shortly after being shot, (the bullet ending up just an inch from the President's heart), and despite being 70 years young, despite the pain he insisted on walking unaided into the hospital before collapsing in the emergency room. In fact I think it was Reagan who quipped in one the 1984 televised debates that he '...would not be making age an issue in this election, not wanting to exploit for political purposes the youth and inexperience of his opponent.' 

From start to finish Reagan was a consummate performer, from his years as a Hollywood actor, he was a man who knew the power of using his environment to create theatre, to create a narrative out of what he did or how he appeared rather than by just what he said. This was the man who met Gorbachev at a summit in Switzerland on a freezing day, looking tanned and with no overcoat, he bounced down the steps warmly greeted his Russian counterpart who was wearing a thick grey coat and hat and in front of the world's media, he made the younger Russian look like he was the 70 year old and Reagan the spritley 50 year old. Genius.

There is much more to say about the 40th President of the United States, and I'll be posting more in the near future. In the meantime please send me your ideas for other Conservatives that changed the world, and your Ronald Reagan stories.

POLITICS OR THE WORK OF GOD - I HUMBLY SUBMIT YOU CAN DO BOTH

by Colin Bloom

One of my favourite films is Amazing Grace, the story of how my political hero, William Wilberforce worked with others to make the slave trade illegal. Last night, as a family we watched it together. I never get bored of seeing it.

There is a powerful scene where Wilberforce, Pitt the Younger, Hannah More, Thomas Clarkson and Olaudah Equiano and a few others from the Clapham Sect are dining together; Wilberforce is graphically shown how the slaves are chained and transported to the plantations across the Atlantic.


Mr Clarkson turns to Wilberforce and says, "Mr Wilberforce we understand that you are having problems choosing to do the work of God or the work of a political activist."

Hannah More then says, "We humbly suggest that you can do both."

How many thousands of other 'Wilberforces' have asked themselves the same question and were advised to do one or the other? As if politics and faith operate as completely separate entities. What would our world look like if we had more Hannah Mores that encouraged them to do both?

So, if you are passionate about politics and are what Wilberforce would call a 'Real Christian' then consider joining a political party, get involved and perhaps even consider standing as a Local Councillor, MEP or Member of Parliament. You could be the next William Wilberforce!

I humbly suggest you can do both!

Sunday, 31 March 2013

CHRISTIAN CONSERVATIVES CAN BE PROUD OF THIS COALITION'S RECORD BUT A LOT MORE STILL NEEDS TO BE DONE


by Colin Bloom
The Prime Minister is getting a shellacking from many Christians this weekend. Yesterday the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey got in early with a few combination shots, and today the Methodists and Baptists decided to mix it up with an ecumenical tag-teaming left foot kicking. Some of the blows were a bit low, but the referees in the broadcast media are seemingly on the side of the Holy minority.

Earlier today I was prompted by a friend to list the Government’s biggest ‘Christian’ achievements. This friend is known to everyone on this site, and he suggested that the increase in faith schools or the .7% of GDP on Overseas Aid as a good start. Pah! There is so much more to list than that.

However, the near universal and visceral rejection of same-sex marriage by the Church has perhaps meant that now anything and everything the Government does, and particularly if it comes from the Prime Minister, is going to be rejected and rubbished without consideration. This would not be fair, and dare I say, it would not be a particularly Christian thing to do either.

The Bible tells us in numerous places to honour and respect and pray for those in Government, for ‘…all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Saviour.’ I would gently remind my Christian brothers and sisters, especially those in the Clergy to spend as much time praying for our politicians (of all parties) and less time attacking them.

So I’ll pick up the challenge our friend has given me; I will list some of the things that I am most proud of as a Christian Conservative, accepting that the critics have probably already made up their minds anyway.

I.               We are unashamed to ‘do God.’ Let’s never forget that the previous administration famously said they ‘didn’t do God’ and this one has said very firmly that they do.
II.              We are even prepared to go further, and say that we are a ‘Christian Country.’ Whether it was Baroness Warsi when she, as British Muslim, told the former Pope that the United Kingdom was a Christian Country, or whether it is the PM in numerous speeches – unlike the previous Government we are clear. This is a Christian Country.
III.            Church run social action projects have been given significant funds via groups like the Church Urban Fund or the Cinnamon Network, so that Christian charities like Foodbank, Christians Against Poverty, Street Pastors and others flourish. The Big Society might not be fashionable on the left, but this Government is putting real resources into it.
IV.           Micro Grants from the DCLG to churches to go and ‘Love their Neighbours’ – did this happen before? No.
V.            Commitment to the Developing World by keeping our promises on Aid and the Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s). Increasing investment to build up both infrastructure and to meet the needs of those in absolute poverty and suffering around the world. Not popular with many, but the right and Christian thing to do.
VI.           Giving powers of competence to Local Authorities so that they can keep on saying prayers before Council Meetings. Thank you Eric Pickles, one in the eye for the aggressive secularists.
VII.         The PM hosting Easter Receptions for Christian Leaders, every year since getting elected in 2010 (not done before).
VIII.        The PM giving Easter Messages and Christmas Messages that are filled with messages about Jesus (not done before).
IX.           The growth in faith schools, and the freedom for churches to start their own schools if they want.
X.             Michael Gove giving every secondary school in the country a copy of the King James Bible on the 400th Anniversary of its publication.
XI.           The brilliant work of the Foreign Secretary William Hague and his Ministerial Team including Alastair Burt on fighting against the persecution of Christians around the world.
XII.          The work being done to create a greener United Kingdom, looking after the planet God has given us.
XIII.        The significant steps that have been taken to end modern day slavery. Some has been done, but there is a great deal more to do.
XIV.       The attempt to set people free from the over-powerful and dead hand of the state. Encouraging people to work (1 Thessalonians 4)!
XV.        Significant work being done in Prisons, where groups like the William Wilberforce Trust (Alpha for Prisons) have been funded to help reduce recidivism and turn prisoners lives around.
XVI.       The appointment of a specific Minister for Faiths (Baroness Warsi) – not been done before.

And there is more…

On top of all of the above, the Conservatives are probably the only one of the main political parties that would protect the Established Church – can you see the Lib Dem’s or Labour doing this?

Everything I have listed above will attract criticism, and I am not pretending that either enough has been done, or that everything that has been done has been done well. I am just trying to bring a bit of balance. Considering the alternatives the record isn’t as bad as most Christian leaders are making out. In summary, a lot of good has been done, there is still a lot more to do.

So before the usual suspects put their left boot in again, perhaps they might want to reflect on how the country was brought to its financial and moral knees, and give a bit more credit to a Government that it trying to get us on our own feet again.

(This article was published on ConservativeHome today)

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

ANTIDISESTABLISHMENTARIANISM

by Colin Bloom

Is antidisestablishmentarianism the longest word in the English language? Even if it isn't I doubt I will ever write an article with a one word title this long again.

For the record, I am not an Anglican but I love the Church of England. I've never been an Anglican but I will fight to keep it as our Nation's 'established' church. I am happy to be described as an antidisestablishmentarianist, it should be on my business card.

As a conservative (note little 'c') as well as a Conservative, it is in my instinct to want to keep what is good about our nation. Little 'c' conservatives live by the maxim, don't fix what ain't broke, and there is no argument that has yet persuaded me that our ancient heritage of having an Established church does us any harm. On the contrary, I would argue it is something to be rather proud of, and something that makes us stronger and more settled.

One of the benefits of an Established church of England is that we have Bishops sitting in the House of Lords; called the 'Lords Spiritual' they are made up of the five great 'sees' Canterbury, York, Durham, London and Winchester, followed by the next twenty-one most senior Bishops from across the Country. Whilst it is extremely rare for all twenty-six Bishops to be in the House of Lords at the same time, they are an highly influential and important bloc in the upper house.

The secularists hate the idea of a Lords Spiritual. They froth and foam at the thought that these unelected prelates, that follow some imaginary deity, have privileges that their enlightened ranks don't enjoy. They don't just want an end to the Established church, they also want an end to prayers before Council Meetings, faith schools, prison chaplains and Easter marches of Witness. The secularism agenda is clear, they want disestablishment; they probably wouldn't mind getting rid of the monarchy too. Let's face it, most are anarchists or marxists or both.

Yesterday a veteran of Parliament and I were chatting about this very subject and we concluded that should disestablishment ever get to a vote in the House of Commons, the majority of the Labour Party would probably vote in favour of it, perhaps all but one Liberal Democrat would vote in favour of it and maybe only fifty of the three hundred Conservatives would vote to break the Church and State relationship. It was, we imagined, quite an irony that if such a vote were to take place, the fate of the Bishops in the 'other place' would be precariously balanced in the hands of Conservatives MP's, a group who recently have not been best pleased with the 'tone' from the Lords Spiritual.

As I said at the beginning, I love it the way it is, and I want our Bishops to be free to speak their mind and be free to vote as their conscience leads them, their strength is their independence. Long may they enjoy the freedom to speak their minds as God leads them in the Upper House.

However, and it is a very hesitant and gentle however, the Bishops might want to work a little harder at keeping their friends and making new ones in the House of Commons and with the general populous. With great fear and trepidation I would venture that they might want to reflect on articles like this in the Daily Mail regarding Iain Duncan Smith's welfare reforms (extremely popular with the voters we hear). 

It's my hope that in four hundred years time the UK will still have a Lords Spiritual, an Established church and free thinking, independent, God fearing bench* of Bishops. I just hope we don't have to vote on it soon.

*the collective noun for Bishops really is 'bench'.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

WILBERFORCE IN BRONZE

Portrait of Wilberforce by Sir Thomas Lawrence
by Colin Bloom

It must have been an inspired follower of utilitarianism that assigned M1, M2 and M3 to the main meeting rooms in the Conservative Party Headquarters in Westminster. There is little to say about these rooms, save for some bronze statues, they are utterly functional.

In M1 there is a bust of Sir Winston Churchill; we are told he is regarded by a majority of the British Public as the greatest Briton that ever lived. He deserves to be there; he is the Conservative who led our Nation through our darkest hours against the tyranny of fascism. Churchill is our military godfather.

In M2 there is a bust of Lady Thatcher; and quite rightly so. She is the Conservative who led our nation back from the economically crippling tyranny of socialism and restored our health from the 'sick man of Europe' to the global force we are today. Thatcher is our economic godmother.

In M3 there is no bust. There should be, and it has been agreed that if I can get a bust made of William Wilberforce, it could be loaned to the Party to sit in M3. Wilberforce deserves to be there; in so many areas, not just slavery, he led our nation back from the tyranny of moral apathy. Wilberforce is our moral and spiritual godfather.

If this plan of a Wilberforce Bust is a success, maybe the meeting rooms will be renamed after the watching bronzed trilogy of these great Conservatives. They should become inspirational reminders of why the Conservatives are the oldest and most successful political party on the planet; and we should use these reminders from our past to inflame the legacy that we want to leave for this and future generations.

In the coming weeks, there will be more to say about the progress of the Wilberforce Bust. If you like the idea of it, and would like to participate in being part of this project then you know where I am.

In the meantime, who from our current 303 Members of Parliament might our children be considering for a plinth in M4?