Ed Miliband – another atheist takes the helm
He is not, of course, Labour’s first: they have had quite a few, including Michael Foot and Neil Kinnock. Nor is he the only political leader who doesn’t ‘do God’: Nick Clegg has been open about his atheism since he became leader of the Liberal Democrats.
Ed Miliband told BBC Radio Five Live this morning: “I don't believe in God personally but I have great respect for those people who do. Different people have different religious views in this country.”
You don’t say.
But it is not clear (yet) why Mr Miliband is an atheist.
He has disclosed that he is not yet married to his partner of five years and the mother of his children because he has been ‘too busy’.
He has also admitted that the reason he did not sign the birth certificate of his son Daniel was because he was ‘too busy’.
It is curious indeed that a man can be ‘too busy’ to be declared the father of his firstborn.
So, perhaps, rather than it being any considered theo-philosophical worldview, Mr Miliband has hitherto just been ‘too busy’ to do God.
Of course, God knows the truth of this.
Whether Mr Miliband believes in him or not.
There is a certain inescapable ontology. God does not need Mr Miliband to believe in him, but Mr Miliband may come to understand the ‘usefulness’ of doing God in a nation of believers.
For if the foundations of the nation’s moral code cease to be Christian, what will fill the vacuum?
Islam or Marx?
Environmentalism or Nihilism?
No doubt Mr Miliband will be persuaded that the atheist politician will be ‘neutral’ between the different competing religious pressure groups in society, and that he will have no temptation not to be even-handed because he has no allegiance to the outlook of any of those groups.
In this postmodern relativist age, perched precariously between religionists and ‘aggressive secularists’, there are many who repudiate those politicians who cloak themselves in supernaturalistic justifications for their actions.
But why is a higher moral worldview inferior to that of Marx?
Why is atheistic ‘neutrality’ superior the Anglican Settlement which has served the nation well for centuries?
There is an evident dilemma in seeking neutrality of political effect because intrinsic to the pursuit of any policy is the likelihood that it will have a detrimental effect on at least one conception of the good to the manifest benefit of another. There is no neutrality to be had because neutrality needs as much justification as any other position.
Being a materialist, Mr Miliband will attempt to persuade us that he can be more concerned with the needs, interests and the plight of people in the here and now, and will not be influenced by the belief that present sufferings and inequalities will be compensated in some posthumous dispensation.
He is the agent of his own conviction.
And should he become prime minister (in future coalition with fellow atheist Nick Clegg), the prospect of disestablishment of the Church of England will come closer.
Religious organisations will be no more than trades unions. And the moderate and benign incarnation of the English psyche will be subject to the atheist tyranny.
It is ironic that Labour’s first Jewish leader does not ‘do YHWH’.
Perhaps this is because Marx featured more in his upbringing than the Torah.
Ed Miliband might have rejected the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but he cannot run from his DNA.
The Jewish atheist is extremely unlikely ever to become prime minister of this Protestant country.
The God he doesn’t believe in has not ordained it.
Perhaps he is too busy.