Gordon Brown’s ‘Presbyterian conscience’
But perhaps the Prime Minister has ceased to understand the meaning of ‘Presbyterian’ or is not using ‘conscience’ in the vernacular. While to us ‘conscience’ refers to the sense of right and wrong in an individual, to Gordon Brown there is only black and white; good and evil; his voice and that of the opposition. His subjective reason is his ultimate moral authority by which everone else must live, and thus his conscience claims authority over everyone else’s sources of motivation. There is nothing ‘Presbyterian’ about this, for it does not admit individual responsibility or any notion of God, Scripture or Christian tradition.
The Prime Minister’s ‘Presbyterian conscience’ is offended because duck islands, moat cleaning, wisteria clearing and servant quarters disturb his Socialist sentiment and the resentful perceptions of his heart. As Aquinas points out in the Summa, one acts badly in doing what is in fact bad, but also in going against conscience; so that unless he ‘put away his error’, someone of evil conscience cannot act well.
Cranmer can find no prior reference by the Prime Minister to his ‘Presbyterian conscience’: it is apparently the first time he has ‘done God’ – at least the Presbyterian one. But how this sensitive conscience cannot have been offended before now is bemusing. Is it not pricked by the atrocities in Zimbabwe, the genocide in Darfur or the bankruptcy of this great nation?
Or is it only offended when there is politicking to be done and nasty, greedy, pompous Tories to be quashed?