Summer obsessions: Labour's atheism, Conservative Christianity, and LibDem fantasy
To fill the void, the silly season concerns itself with such stories as this by the BBC. Today they list MPs’ choice of books for the summer, which they judge to be one of the top political stories of the day (they have no mention of the ‘Reform Treaty’ anywhere on their news website). While the list is apparently trivial, it does reveal which book choice comes top for each party, and, like all ex libris tomes, this offers insight not only into individual priorities of choice but also the parties’ collective obsessions.
Top of the list for Labour MPs is The God Delusion, by the atheist fundamentalist Richard Dawkins. Not content with dismantling the Judeo-Christian foundations of the United Kingdom, and, indeed, dismantling the United Kingdom itself, they are now seeking ways of dismantling God. They have brought the nation back to an anti-Christian era, passing laws that are not only antithetical to the free expression of the faith (and of concern to all faiths), but offensive in particular to the Christian conscience. Dawkins will simply placate the powerful delusion that is their consciences, as he persuades them of the infallibility of their myopic quest and the self-righteousness of their mistaken cause.
Top of the list for Conservative MPs is William Hague's biography of anti-slavery campaigner William Wilberforce. While the Labour Party is obsessed by the thorns of the God delusion, the Conservative Party is concerned with the fruits of his manifest existence. It is encouraging indeed that the party of Wilberforce continues to be interested in and inspired by one man’s struggle against Mammon, against the ruling powers, and against the received wisdom of his day. Contending for the faith is a scriptural injunction, and this book cannot but have a profoundly positive effect on those who read it.
The second most popular choice for Conservatives is Tom Bower's biography of Prime Minister Gordon Brown. This is a manifestly intelligent choice: they are clearly getting to know their enemy; understanding the man behind mask, the person behind the policies. This is eminently sensible, for the more the Conservatives understand Mr Brown’s Scottish Presbyterian roots, the more they will understand that he is Socialist to the core. In contrast to the theatricality of Mr Blair’s Roman Catholic leanings, Mr Brown is serious, dogmatic, assertive, and he works a lot. Understanding his theology is the key to understanding his worldview. He must be the only person in history to have presented the Pope with a book of his father’s sermons: the father’s sermons find expression in the son’s politics.
And as for the Liberal Democrats, they are, as ever, all over the place. There is no coherence, no sense of reality, and absolutely no strategy. Some have chosen to empathise with Labour and waste their summer obsessing with The God Delusion; others lean more towards the Conservative Party and are seeking inspiration in the Wilberforce biography. But the Liberal Democrats uniquely will also be picking up JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Here we have a party that is not only schizophrenic, but also fascinated by fantasy, deluded by dreams, trapped in an apocalyptic story of lies and deception, in which good may eventually triumph over evil, but only after those who are closest to you have suffered or died as a result of your misplaced childhood.
While Cranmer finds encouragement with the Conservative choice, concern with Labour’s, and despair with the Liberal Democrats’, he notes that very few of any party have chosen to spend their summer reading the most important books of the season - The War of Ideas: Jihadism Against Democracy by Walid Phares, or The Islamist by Ed Husain. These are Cranmer’s recommendations: they have spiritual encouragement, sociological concern and political despair all rolled into one. ‘Enjoy’.