Archbishop of Canterbury: 'Stop humiliating our MPs'
Rowan Williams is right to observe that the controversy over MPs' expenses is ‘as grave as could be for our parliamentary democracy, and urgent action is needed to restore trust’. After more than two weeks of the Telegraph’s daily dripping of scandal, innuendo and tittle-tattle, Dr Williams asks ‘whether the point has not been adequately made’ because the ‘continuing systematic humiliation of politicians itself threatens to carry a heavy price in terms of our ability to salvage some confidence in our democracy’.
He then enters one of his usual labyrinths of obfuscational discourse, from which all but the most longsuffering politico-religionist invariably turns off, and that is not the congregation to which he must minister: he might as well be talking Panjabi in Golders Green.
On the issue of MPs’ expenses, most people do not care about ‘underlying attitudes’; they care even less about ‘a basic problem in our moral thinking’, the ‘moral defects of culture’ or the etymology of ‘integrity’. When the Archbishop talks of such things, it begins to sounds like a defence: the scurvy politicians’ mantra that ‘no rules were broken’ is simply symptomatic of a broken society. But these extravagant expense claims – from kit-kats and duck islands to champagne, caviar and entire houses – were not mistakes. Despite the plethora of pathetic protestations, they were not instances of forgetfulness or momentary aberrations. And neither were they just unfortunate manifestations of a flawed system in need of reform. They were a deliberate and systematic contrivance to suck the teat of the taxpayer and extract every last drop of ‘what’s owed to them’.
One wonders why the Archbishop is not preaching against their greed, for that sin is mentioned among those which may exclude one from the Kingdom of God (2Cor 6:9f). Doubtless some of the worst offenders make a very public display of occupying the Archbishops’ pews Sunday by Sunday, yet there is no rebuke, even for the salvation of their souls. And why has no Roman Catholic leader expressed his disappointment at the performance of the first Roman Catholic Speaker since the Reformation? And why have no Imams condemned Mohammad Sarwar or Shahid Malik, whose avarice has surely thwarted his prediction of the total Islamification of Britain and a Muslim prime minister, ‘Allah willing’, within the next thirty years?
Members of Parliament are not only supposed to be pillars of temporal society, but they are ex officio elders within their churches, synagogues, mosques and gurdwaras. They are respected for their status, their inner moral integrity; by their fruits they make disciples and evangelise them to their political cause. Yet as they have eaten meat and drunk wine and caused the weak to stumble, not one of their religious leaders has spoken of hypocrites, whited sepulchres or broods of vipers.
Instead, we get the etymology of ‘integrity’.
And a little advice (actually, a direct instruction) that we must not vote for ‘extremist’ parties on 4th June.
The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have combined their mitres in appealing to voters to exercise ‘great vigilance’ in making their decision on who to vote for. They do this as their spokesman, bizarrely, is quoted as saying 'the Church should stay out of politics’.
The Archbishops are of the view that, rather than caving in to anger, the elections present an opportunity to display higher ideals, ‘for renewing the vision of a community united by mutual respect, high ethical standards and the pursuit of justice and peace’.
They continue: “It is crucial to elect those who wish to uphold the democratic values and who wish to work for the common good in a spirit of public service, which urgently needs to be reaffirmed in these difficult days."
And which party is promising to uphold the democratic values of the EU?
It is curious advice from the archbishops and bishops of the Church of England that voters should use their EU vote ‘with care’. As the Bishop of Lichfield expresses his ‘distaste’ for any political platform that destabilised communities through ‘misinformation, scare stories and inflammatory rhetoric’, Cranmer wonders if the Rt Rev Jonathan Gledhill understands what politics is about. And if one is to reject the divisive policies and corrosive agenda of the BNP on 4th June (as one must), then a fortiori must the bishops of the Church of England exhort the faithful not to vote Labour, for their anti-Christian extremism is antithetical to the common good. It is just as subversive and every bit as destructive of the traditions and foundations of the nation. And their insidious ‘equality’ agenda also threatens to destabilise the communities in which we live, work and worship.
Perhaps the Church of England might speak simply and plainly for once. Why not just exhort the faithful to vote Conservative?