Cameron may play the envangelist, but he’s no more Christian than my cat

Cameron as christianWhen Cameron said pointedly over Easter, which he has repeated since, that he evangelises over his Christianity, no-one of course believed him, but they did wonder why he said it. Alistair Campbell thought that after the Maria Miller scandal he needed something to change the subject, and around Easter what better opportunity than to wear his faith on his sleeve as noisily as he could. Or perhaps he wanted to emphasise his true native Englishness to his irksome right-wing trouble-makers (Tory party at prayer, and all that). Or he may have been seizing the opportunity – any opportunity – to head off his haemorrhaging to Farageism  by emphasising his true Christian principles after all the furore over his supporting gay marriage.  Whatever his motive, the one thing we can be certain about is that, like Blair, another unctuous promoter of his religious belief, he is no Christian. Continue reading

Four oddities of Labour education policy

11640840_sThe Labour Party’s declared aim is to build a “one-nation society” with a “one-nation economy” and a “one-nation education system”. What would a “one-nation education system” look like? Clearly, there can be many different solution to such a complex problem but some general principles would need to apply in all cases. With this in mind there are some decidedly odd features of Labour policy for England. Some are listed below  – private schools, faith schools, LEAs and Tristram Hunt. Continue reading

Islam and the New Atheists

I do like James Bloodworth and I think he’s done a great job building up the profile of Left Foot Forward since taking up the reins. But his recent piece for The SpeccieIt’s fine to be a ‘new’ atheist, so long as you don’t object to Islam reads like it was written in haste. As such it is unsophisticated and limited, the article fails to think through the object of his polemic. And it lacks the unpardonable N-word: nuance.

The point he makes is a well-worn one. James argues that the so-called New Atheists of the Dawkins/Hitchens type are getting it in the neck for criticising Islam from some parts of the left. The exhibits wheeled out are Glenn Greenwald and Owen Jones, but you could take your pick from many, many more. Comrades like Glenn and Owen contend that against the background of a generalised antipathy toward Islam which, in turn, is stoked up by powerful vested interests on either side of the Atlantic; the reactionary and the bigoted can use the critiques of Islam by the trendy atheists for their own ends. Hence the latter have culpability for their arguments. After all, the right to free speech comes with the responsibility for it. Continue reading

Opposing poverty: a job for the left, not the churches

When I give food to the poor, I’m propping up David Cameron’s Big Society programme. When I ask why the poor have no food, I sometimes wonder what I’m doing in the Labour Party any more.

Recent weeks have seen the Pope, the Archbishop of Canterbury, 42 other Church of England bishops, the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Church of Scotland and the Methodist and United Reformed churches all speak out against poverty, which for many people on the left is the very issue that galvanised them into political commitment in the first place. Continue reading

The state should rid itself of its turbulent church

Equality and religous freedom. Two fundamental rights, belief in which we share, at least in principle, with the Tory party. Maria Miller, Culture Secretary and minister for equalities, may well have our sympathy, then, in urging the Church of England to think again on women bishops. Some MPs, of all major parties, led by former Synod member Frank Field, would go further and legislate to remove the Church of England’s immunities from gender discrimination legislation. This is a mistake. The reality is that antidisestablishmentarianism is no longer an acceptable position. Continue reading