Bishop of Croydon attacks Conservative economic policy
The Bishop appears to be another theologian-economist with a penchant for Marx and an aversion to capitalism. It is noteworthy that he does not appear to have commented upon Labour’s conference anywhere upon his ‘restless’ blog.
Labour, of course, are in government.
Perhaps the Bishop is not sufficiently restless to consider that they might be in any way responsible for the economic morass into which we are all sinking. Perhaps he has not noticed that 12 years of Labour have made the poorest poorer, youth unemployment higher and inequality greater than at any time under Margaret Thatcher or John Major.
Since the Shadow Chancellor has hitherto only announced how he intends to raise £7 billion, Cranmer can hardly wait to hear the Bishop’s reaction to how Mr Osborne might deal with the remaining £163 billion. The Bishop writes dismissively: "Freezing public pay rates was hardly demanding of the grey matter and miserable prioritising of the rich over the poor didn't come as a great surprise."
Cranmer must have missed the ‘miserable prioritising of the rich over the poor’. Did the Shadow Chancellor not specifically say that the lowest paid public sector workers would be exempt from a pay freeze? And did he not also announce an end to tax credits for families earning more than £50,000 a year? And the limiting of baby bonds worth £250 to the disabled and the poorest families?
How does this constitute ‘prioritising of the rich’?
One wonders why some bishops appear to be pathologically incapable of a rational consideration of anything that emanates from the forces of Conservatism: it is, after all, the political philosophy which has sustained the Established Church for centuries.
But the Bishop’s attack on Mr Osborne did not stop there. He singled out the Shadow Chancellor's mantra ‘We're all in it together’ for particular scorn, saying: "Why did no one laugh?... Osborne and Cameron aren't ‘in it’ in the same way thousands of people I serve in south London are ‘in it’. They are rich kids with inheritances to spare them worrying about their future - whatever happens to the economy in the future."
He continued: "I know the Old Etonians (who, along with their chum Boris will soon run the country) are doing their best but ... why did no one laugh?"
And here we get to the nub of the Bishop’s gripe (if gripes can have a nub).
Consider ‘rich kids’, ‘Old Etonians’, ‘chum Boris’, and the Bishop begins to reveal a rather nasty motivation for his outburst. And when he lauds ‘Polly Toynbee’s sums’ as his economic gospel, one’s suspicions are confirmed.
In his further comments, the Bishop says he ‘long(s) for a party that will raise taxes and “let justice roll”.’
If the Bishop believes for one minute that a high-tax society will ‘let justice roll’, he might just consider that it is the world’s low-tax economies which consistently yield higher standards of living for their populations and do most to alleviate poverty at home and abroad.
The Bishop discloses: “But I did grow up in the north at a time when the Tories shattered my city (with help from Derek Hatton and co) and left wounds in my family that still weep. These guys have not the first idea about life outside the privileged circles in which they moved and I don’t trust them or their worldview.”
There can be nothing to redeem these evil Tories. Rachel is still weeping for her children in Liverpool, and the Bishop is incapable of forgiveness.
The truth is that Bishop Nick has already written off David Cameron, George Osborne and Boris Johnson because of their privileged upbringing and education. He ignores completely the immense amount of work done by Iain Duncan Smith’s ‘Centre for Social Justice’, an agenda which David Cameron has announced will be at the heart of his administration.
For Bishop Nick, ‘Compassionate Conservatism’ will always be an oxymoron because ‘their worldview’ is incapable of compassion because they ‘have not the first idea about life outside the privileged circles’.
Perhaps the Bishop might reflect upon whether one really has to lose a five-year-old disabled son in order to understand something of the pain and trauma of doing so. What can a bishop possibly know about that? And when he has considered that one might indeed sincerely and sympathetically weep with those who weep, he might grasp that even Old Etonian rich kids and their chums live with bread like him, feel want, taste grief and need friends.