Showing posts with label Iain Duncan Smith. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Iain Duncan Smith. Show all posts

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)

UNBALANCED COVERAGE OF WELFARE REFORM

by Colin Bloom

The polls are all suggesting that the Iain Duncan-Smith's welfare reforms are not only extremely popular with the British people, but that the British public would like the Coalition to go further in reducing the size of welfare spending.

These are popular measures with the vast majority of the public, but to the broadcast media you might be forgiven in thinking that everyone was against them.

This weekend neither Sky News, nor the BBC have given balanced coverage of this debate. They have given far too much airtime to people against the cuts and not enough to, if the polls are to be believed, the majority view which is these measures are sadly necessary.

Do the BBC and others have such low regard for Her Majesty's Opposition that they feel they have to do their job for them?

Earlier today the Conservative Party Chairman Grant Shapps upbraided a BBC reporter who kept using the term 'Bedroom Tax' for swallowing the language of the left and doing the Labour Party's job for them. I hope this more dynamic, robust approach continues when challenging journalists who are at best lazy or at worse politically biased.

The magic money tree doesn't exist, we need to reduce the size of Government spending and these are facts that the broadcast media have ignored this weekend.

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'.