Gordon Brown’s moral purpose
While the Christian faith is derided and sidelined in society, it remains the inspiration of its present Prime Minister and Government. Secular humanism is not on the ascendancy at the expense of Christian political philosophy: on the contrary; Christian political philosophy beats at the heart of the nation’s politics. It may not be overt, but the solution to the ages-old problem of how one helps one’s neighbour is indeed to ‘do God’, but only in private. The public policy no longer has to give him credit, but he has been there throughout, manifest in the personal faith of the political animal.
While Mr Blair emoted in a Roman fashion, Mr Brown is the epitome of the restrained Puritan. His Christian orthodoxy is fused with his Socialist orthopraxis; his Scottish Presbyterianism consists in finding ways to support individuals and communities through the hardest times, which is an intellectual assent with an intensely practical commitment. It is no surprise, therefore, that he passionately advocates the Protestant work ethic, and unashamedly exalts the type of social capitalism that can only be achieved through the nation state, accountability, and democracy. It is no wonder that he eschews the social-Catholic supranationalism manifest in projects like the euro. He is all for the interdependence of corporate confession, but not if it supplants the individual responsibility to get down on one’s knees and choose to humbly submit to one’s maker. It is in the resolution of these dilemmas - the relationship between the body and member, between the market and morality, and between the citizen and the state – that Gordon Brown has found his religio-political vocation. Caring for widows and orphans, feeding the starving, and clothing the naked, are at the very heart of the man.
It may be adduced that the subliminal attraction of Mr Brown to the British people is that his political house is built upon the rock of Christianity. The wary caution that they manifest towards Mr Cameron emanates from the perception that his political house is built upon the shifting sands of a thoroughly postmodern and utterly nebulous spirituality. The people just know, somewhere deep down, that ultimately salvation lies only in the stark offence of the cross; it will never be found in crystals or tree-hugging, however shiny, green and fluffy the wrapping may appear.