Labour’s moral wilderness
But the wilderness which Cranmer wishes to reflect upon today is that of Labour. He is not prophesying for Gordon Brown a sustained sojourn in the desert (though he prays for it daily), but an examination of Labour’s present wilderness, which is neither physical nor geographic, but philosophical and moral.
Labour is writhing in a period of uncertainty and doubt. It is so riddled with the affliction that 40 days of fasting will not be sufficient to restore its spiritual life, and certainly not to permit such a renewal to extend to the life of the nation.
The United Kingdom is in an undeniable wilderness which is solely of Labour’s creating. As long as the Government decomposes in its own festering incompetence, sleaze and greed, righteousness cannot return. Labour has replaced the light of truth with the relativist shadows of pressure groups – especially the Islamic and Homosexual. The party is trying to serve so many schizophrenic masters that it has ceased to know which mask it must wear for which ball, and to which master of which lobby group at which ball it has promised the final dance. It has become a multifarious hydra which undermines marriage whilst dishing out tax credits to support families; it demeans the faithful majority while deifying the equality of all minorities; and it has trivialised the purpose of Parliament to the point of political prostration.
Lent is a good time for traditional Labour supporters to reflect upon their party’s foundations, for they were acutely Christian. There was a time when ‘Labour’ meant authenticity: at the very least, people associated the word with a political philosophy which was concerned with pacifism, the suffering of the poor, housing the homeless, compassion for the elderly and under-privileged, and rights for exploited workers. It was the party of Christian-inspired social activism, with spiritual roots which stretched back to the halcyon days of Methodism. So gloriously righteous was its mission that Jesus himself would have felt comfortable being taxed one of his coats in order to keep Keir Hardie warm. The party had conviction, principles and morals.
But in the naked pursuit of power, Labour has abandoned all that was true, noble and good and supplanted it with duplicity, avarice and the stench of sleaze. Its principles have been shredded, and its sense of Christian morality pulped and recycled as an idol to every god in the firmament but the One who is known. It has become the party of war, the party of torture, the party of exploitation and the party of deceit. It rewards the thieves and fraudsters with ‘rights’ while penalising the law-abiding and responsible. As former Labour MP Bryan Gould observes: Labour’s achievements ‘have been molehills, judged against the towering peaks scaled by New Labour in its rejection not only of Labour, but of any decent and civilised values’.
Labour has ceased to be civilised, for it has no clear vision of the meaning of this civility. It is no longer good, for it has lost sight of the common good. This recession may be global, but it is Labour’s fault that the United Kingdom is the worst place nation in the western world to cope with its effects. Labour has become the embodiment of that for which it always despised the Conservatives: it is now the undoubted party of unemployment, recession, inflation and increased poverty. Labour is seduced by celebrity and beguiled by vanity.
This is an undoubted moral issue, for firms are condemned to closure, people are reduced to hardship and depression, more workers to unemployment and more families to homelessness through unprecedented levels of repossession. The total number of suicides, heart attacks, divorces and mental breakdowns is never known.
Labour has become the party of widening inequality and social disintegration.
Cranmer exhorts all who are moral, all who are compassionate, all who are discerning and visionary, all who care about the Christian foundations of this nation – it’s civil liberties, religious tolerance, respect for life and the rule of law – to abandon Labour, for its heart is corrupt, its flesh is rotten. Labour has ceased to understand the moral values of the Labour movement: Labour has ceased to be Christian.
As you contemplate this Lenten fast, enduring economic hardship in the wilderness of Labour’s workhouse, consider the empty promises and the vain assurance that ‘things can only get better’. And then reflect upon the undeniable fact that Labour has actually made things a whole lot worse.
So what should Gordon Brown give up for Lent?
How about Number 10?