Saturday, June 22, 2013

The People's Assembly is Labour's UKIP


With the glorious rise of UKIP, all recent media focus has been on the fracturing and fragmenting of the political right: the more Cameron and Clegg have forged a coalition movement for social democracy, the more the social conservatives, Tory traditionalists, or Thatcherites - call them what you will - have been sidelined to the point of irrelevance.

His Grace was pleased to hear today of the launch of Labour's UKIP - The People's Assembly. They are very well organised, have a really snazzy website, and some high-profile support:


It is organised by:

Its statement of belief is:
We face a choice that will shape our society for decades to come. It is a choice faced by ordinary people in every part of the globe.

We can defend education, health and welfare provision funded from general taxation and available to all, or we can surrender the gains that have improved the lives of millions of people for over more than 50 years.

We do not accept that government’s austerity programme is necessary. The banks and the major corporations should be taxed at a rate which can provide the necessary resources. Austerity does not work: it is a failure in its own terms resulting in neither deficit reduction nor growth. It is not just: the government takes money from the pockets of those who did not cause the crisis and rewards those who did. It is immoral: our children face a bleaker future if our services and living standards are devastated. It is undemocratic: at the last election a majority voted against the return of a Tory government. The Con-Dem coalition has delivered us into the grip of the Tories’ whose political project is the destruction of a universal welfare state.

We therefore choose to resist. We refuse to be divided against ourselves by stories of those on ‘golden pensions’, or of ‘scroungers’, or the ‘undeserving poor’. We do not blame our neighbours, whatever race or religion they maybe. We are not joining the race to the bottom. We stand with the movement of resistance across Europe.

We are clear in our minds that our stand will require us to defend the people’s right to protest, and so we support the right of unions and campaigns to organise and take such action as their members democratically decide is necessary.

We stand with all those who have made the case against the government so far: in the student movement, in the unions, in the many campaigns to defend services, the NHS, and in the Coalition of Resistance, the People’s Charter, UK Uncut, the environmental movement and the Occupy movement.

We do not seek to replace any organisations fighting cuts. All are necessary. But we do believe that a single united national movement is required to challenge more effectively a nationally led government austerity programme.

We have a plain and simple goal: to make government abandon its austerity programme. If it will not it must be replaced with one that will.

We will concentrate on action not words. We aim to provide the maximum solidarity for unions and other organisations and others taking action. We support every and all effective forms action and aim to build a united national movement of resistance.

Our case is clear. The government’s austerity programme does not work; it is unjust, immoral and undemocratic. Alternatives exist. Debts can be dropped. Privatisation can be reversed and common ownership embraced. A living wage can begin to combat poverty. Strong trade unions can help redistribute profit. The vast wealth held by corporations and the trillions held by the super rich in tax havens can be tapped. Green technology, alternatives to the arms industries, a rebuilt infrastructure including growth in manufacturing are all desperately needed. We are fighting for an alternative future for this generation and for those that come after us.
And its statement of actions and objectives:
The People’s Assembly will support every genuine movement and action taken against any and all of the cuts. We support all current industrial actions by the unions. We encourage and will help to organise the maximum solidarity action with the PCS and teaching union members taking protest and strike action the week after the People’s Assembly, as well as with other action by unions planned for the autumn.

Peoples Assemblies against the cuts should be organised in towns and cities across our nations, bringing all those fighting the cuts together into a broad democratic alliance on a local basis.

The national and the local Assemblies, in partnership with Trades Unions, Trades Councils, campaigning and community groups, can unite our movement and strengthen our campaigns. Local Assemblies will help us to organise a recalled National Assembly to review our work in the early spring of 2014.

We will work together with leading experts and campaigners both here and abroad, and friendly think tanks, to develop rapidly key policies and an alternative programme for a new anti-austerity government. We will continue to welcome support from all who fight the cuts.

We will call a national day of civil disobedience and direct action against austerity on November 5th and a national demonstration in Spring 2014.

We will support the call for local demonstrations on 5th July, the 65th Birthday of our NHS and specifically, at Trafford Hospital, Manchester, the birthplace of the NHS.

We will work with the trade unions, campaign groups and others to organise and mobilise for a national demonstration at Conservative Party Conference in Manchester in support of our NHS on 29th September 2013.
This is quite simply marvellous. It will delight Bishop Pete of Willesden no end. One only has to read some of the group's blog comments to appreciate what a significant threat The People's Assembly represents to Ed Miliband and the entire Labour movement: it is true Socialism; a repudiation of the Blairite 'Middle Way' and New Labour; a glorious Red revival. If it results in a new political party, Owen Jones et al will deprive Ed Miliband and his successor of the keys to No10, just as Roy Jenkins, David Owen, Bill Rodgers and Shirley Williams did for Michael Foot and Neil Kinnock throughout the 1980s.

His Grace wishes them every blessing.

75 Comments:

Blogger Darter Noster said...

I wouldn't get too excited - left-wing pressure groups like this motley collection of organisations have been formed and dissolved for years without having too profound an impact on the electoral landscape.

True, Ed Miliband's trade union pay masters might be flexing their muscles a bit more, but trade union leaders are not wild-eyed socialist idealists (just look at their salaries). They know they need New Labour to get them even a sniff of actual power, so they may not be ready to kill off the goose that laid the golden egg entirely.

22 June 2013 10:38  
Blogger LEN said...

The people of Brazil(for example though this is a Worldwide problem) are [basically] protesting that their Government have' lost touch' with the will of the people. This can be said of many Governments Worldwide.Governments have become more like dictatorships than democracies.
Governments are pursuing their own interests over and above the interests of the people which inevitably leads to dissent.
The' cuts' in the UK quite clearly are not working and have not been administered fairly.The' bedroom tax 'for example will cause more problems than it solves.Certainly cut wasteful practices but vast sums of money are wasted by Governments and Councils on unnecessary projects.Tax avoidance and tax evasion fueled by corporate and personal greed are problems that need to be addressed.
Managing our Countries finances fairly is a huge problem which needs tackling with urgency.
We should be more discerning with overseas aid and make sure it goes where it is actually needed and doesn`t get sidetracked.
The EU is another 'money pit' do we really need it?.

What is needed is a 'voice' FOR the people, a voice OF the people and perhaps' The People's Assembly'
is the way forward in this respect.?.



22 June 2013 10:46  
Blogger Nick said...

I supported Labour for many years, believing in such things as social justice and and a certain degree of "equality" in terms jobs and access to social housing anyway. I abandoned Labour when they abandoned their principles. Blair was the tipping point for me. These days, I have no particular political affiliation.

As to the Peoples Assembly, if thety had been around fifteen years ago, then I would have applauded them as true socialists with a genuine sense of conviction. My instinct on reading this post now is that the said assembly sounds a like another manifestation of the Socialist Workers Party. While agreeing with many things they say about austerity and our undemocratic Government, I would not get involved with them. As a Christian, I don't think I would find many soul-mates in this organisation, they are more likely to be a group of atheists and anti-theists.

They may well be a threat to Millipede, and certainly I feel no pity for him, but they are probably also a threat to those who wish for a stronger moral framework in this country. I won't be supporting them anymore than I support our present Government. If anyone needs a clue how to restore this nations fortunes then "Righteousness exalts a nation" is a good starting point

22 June 2013 11:02  
Blogger Nick said...

Re my point about antitheists, just look at the list of supporters. Would any Christian feel comfortable protesting alongside the Green Party. Remember the Christina Summers incident?

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/09/11/green-party-expels-brighton-christina-summers-gay-marriage_n_1873791.html

22 June 2013 11:24  
Blogger Peter D said...

As the Archbishop points out, the only good thing about this motley crew is that if this People's Party grows in strength it will damage New Labour.

Power to the People - Right Now!

22 June 2013 12:11  
Blogger Naomi King said...


Ben Bernanke said that one day, the printing presses will be turned off.

You’re maybe thinking: “is that it? Didn’t everyone know that anyway?”

Well it will be the end of education, health and welfare provision funded from general taxation and available to all. The point is the Government, whether in the UK or the US, will NEVER, ever be able to repay the debt and the time is soon coming when they won't be able to pay the interest on the debt either!

The feather bedding will be over, for ever.

22 June 2013 12:13  
Blogger Mr Integrity said...

Your Grace,
No doubt about the reason for your delight. The middle class traditional conservatives will raise their hands in horror and say, 'Arthur Scargill has risen from obscurity'. This can only push people back to the right, but hopefully not to this Conservative Party.

We need as I have said before, a party of Integrity.

22 June 2013 12:22  
Blogger Preacher said...

Many fringe parties surface when times are difficult & governments stop listening to the electorate & adopting unpopular stringent policies that cause suffering, without having any observable resolution of the problems.
We should bear in mind that in these times, the opposition party, always claims to have the answer - until they are elected. Then the cycle of political posturing begins again. Rather like football, where the teams change ends at half time.
Thus the rise of a new labour spin off is of questionable value to say the least.
This group sound ultra left wing, & we should remember that Hitler's National Socialists & Lenin's Communists claimed to be the new brooms that would sweep away the cobwebs of the old corrupt systems & herald a new age of democracy & prosperity.
History has the results.

Personally I'll stick with UKIP, they've had experience in Europe & offer an alternative to the big two & a half that sounds viable but less "Citizen Smith" than these new boys.

A father was reading his little daughter a bedtime story & as she dozed off, she asked "Daddy, do all fairy stories start with Once upon a time?". Her father replied, "No darling, some begin with, When I am elected!".

Blessings.

22 June 2013 12:27  
Blogger John Wrake said...

One may, perhaps, admire a move to group together those of like minds, willing to tell the truth about their aims. It is always commendable when organisations state what they believe.

Many of our present ills stem from politicians who will not tell the truth - Conservatives who are not conservative, new Labour which is not Labour, Lib Dems who are neither Liberal nor Democratic.

Slowly but surely, people are re-aligning themselves into two groups.
1. Those like the People's Assembly, who support the materialist view of the world, whose God is Equality and whose action plan is socialism.
2. Those who recognise and accept that an authority outside themselves has made a pattern for living, which we ignore at our peril. Within our country, traditionally that is the Christian view, though now, through political manipulation, it is the view of those large numbers of Muslims who have moved here, as
well.

While we may welcome a temporary set-back for the Father of Lies, this is just a skirmish in the real War to end all Wars and the battle when his defeat will be final and complete.

John Wrake

22 June 2013 12:42  
Blogger Brother Ivo said...

" The People's Assembly" - Brother Ivo does not recall receiving his invitation, but there is an apostrophe so they can't be all band.

It might be fun to add the collective salaries of the leadership of each of these groups and compare them with those getting on the trains to work in London at 7:15 every morning to pay them via their tax.

"Debt can be dropped" that will surely go down well in China which owns much of it.

But let us not forget that despite the early commitment to " work together" the first item on the agenda of all such Left wing organisations is " the split".

22 June 2013 13:57  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

The economic illiteracy of your typical 'government issue, one each' Socialist never ceases to amaze me. So also his faith that the 'kingdom of heaven' can be brought forth by manipulating the externals of life. The defining characteristic of the Left is that it locates the source of evil outside of man. It insists that evil can be eradicated by changing external influences. And when this fantasy collide with the inevitable reality of man's nature, the Left gets angry and resorts to coercion. "If they won't cooperate in the creation of the New Man, then they will be compelled to cooperate." The true believers eventually give way to the cynics and the Nomenklatura and the secret police and the Lubyanka and the Gulag.

carl

22 June 2013 14:27  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

This is all very left wing utopian idealism, the fact is the Unions are just as much a bunch of self-interested greedy bastards that skim off others and the little people to survive as the big corporates are for finding new and innovative ways to hang on to as much profit as possible and not share to provide services for everyone. The unions end up hand in glove with the big corporations anyway.
This and previous government/s can't be trusted to distribute the money taken in from taxes properly and have got us into so much debt that we are robbing Peter to pay Paul all the time.

Where do the People's Assembly think the money is going to come from then if they manage to get the government to abandon cuts? The big corporates aren't going to roll over and start paying massive tax bills. Going on strike as a form of blackmail is only going to get everyone's back up for a start. What's needed is diplomacy and new ways of looking at things. We need to get out of that expensive club the European Union for a start.


Jesus cared about the little people and yet we are virtually ignoring him and what it says in the Bible. It's greed that has to be tackled and as atheism raises its ugly head society slowly goes to pot.

22 June 2013 14:37  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Tally ho !

It’s the erstwhile season of discontent all over again. Culminating in unburied bodies and rats chewing at uncollected bin bags.

Interesting these dreamers chose 5th November for a strike day. As a fellow who used to help out on bonfire nights, he can tell you the day is invariably a cold one, for some reason, even before climate whatever. One thinks any demo will be over by one o’clock as the warriors head home, or the nearest pub probably, to warm up.

Good to see the hammer and sickle, morning star, and CND out and about again. It’s yesterday once more, as Karen Carpenter would say...



22 June 2013 15:27  
Blogger ChrisM said...

"The banks and the major corporations should be taxed at a rate which can provide the necessary resources."
Corporations don't actually pay tax, people do. If you tax them more it comes from the people who work there or the shareholders, who are usually yours and my pension funds.

22 June 2013 15:52  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

The only thing missing from this crowd is Paul Foot. But he’s safely dead :->

22 June 2013 15:57  
Blogger Brother Ivo said...

Ps re China debt. Andrew Neil is saying our debt is now 210 of our GDP.

Defaulting on that ? -What could possibly go wrong?

22 June 2013 16:12  
Blogger Brother Ivo said...

Ps Andrew Neil says that our total debt to China is currently running at 210% of GDP.

Defaulting on that ? What could possibly go wrong!

22 June 2013 16:14  
Blogger The Explorer said...

What's happened to Bob?

22 June 2013 16:32  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

"It is not just: the government takes money from the pockets of those who did not cause the crisis and rewards those who did. It is immoral: our children face a bleaker future if our services and living standards are devastated. It is undemocratic: at the last election a majority voted against the return of a Tory government!

Correct

Cannot argue with much of what else they say either.

If people bother to read it they will have quite a few votes.

Not mine perhaps, but I can see it will have appeal

Phil

22 June 2013 17:50  
Blogger David Hussell said...

I can't share your enthusiasm, Your Grace.

I'd like to see the colour of their eyes a bit better before firing the first volley but, from what I've read, I don't like the smell of it at all. Instinct cuts in, and says, Green Party in support ? , Hhmm, can't be good. It is probably just another man centered Socialist utopian grouping thing that seeks power over everyones lives and denies the existence of God. As Christians we know that we are all totally flawed and that we must not expect too much from any government. Only God can guide us home. But if it holes New Labour under the water line, then pragmatically, I can see, perhaps, some use for it.
So GO Ukip ! It's our best hope. They "do" God, especially from the Judaeo-Christian tradition.

22 June 2013 18:32  
Blogger David Lindsay said...

It won't be standing candidates, and Owen Jones will almost certainly be a Labour MP in 2015. There is no fragmentation here. Quite the reverse, in fact. He is the main figure in it, and he will tell everyone to vote Labour. As will the unions funding both that and this.

22 June 2013 19:05  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

Carl

"It insists that evil can be eradicated by changing external influences"

Of course evil can be defeated in this way.

Giving the poor "justice" is a good start. (The rich can always get Justice)

Which is one of their implied aims at least

Phil

22 June 2013 19:29  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Phil

Of course evil can be defeated in this way.

No, it can't. Evil originates in the human heart. You cannot construct a system so perfect that the human heart is unable to corrupt said system to evil purposes. Neither can you organize existence such that man ceases to be evil because of the environment in which he exists. That is the Golden City for which Socialists quest - human nature refashioned to perfection by the re-organization of externals. It is a chimera.

carl

22 June 2013 19:49  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

Carl

We have had this conversation before.

Surprisingly, (because I think your comments on other issues are spot on) you don't seem to care about injustice (as defined in the Bible) when it comes to the poor.

You point out correctly that we cannot construct a perfect system. So it seems to me that you believe that we should not even try to bring justice to the poor.

Their own stupid fault for having one parent, or not being clever, or being born in the wrong part of town. So it is right for us with more power to take away and exploit the little that God has given them?

Daniel and Bathsheba with the resulting story about rich men and a poor man's lamb comes to mind whenever I read comments on the righteousness of free enterprise, the evils of Unions and laws to protect the poor etc.

Phil







22 June 2013 20:22  
Blogger bluedog said...

Phil @ 20.22 says, 'So it is right for us with more power to take away and exploit the little that God has given them?'

A question that presumes life is a zero sum game, it isn't. Wealth can be created without detraction or re-allocation of existing. But saying that is bad politics of envy.

The PA manifesto is yet another wish list from the Left that conveniently ignores reality. They may as well have pressed to reduce the retiring age to 45 on full final salary. Why not if you're going for unaffordable ambit claims?

22 June 2013 20:50  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Phil

Surprisingly, (because I think your comments on other issues are spot on) you don't seem to care about injustice (as defined in the Bible) when it comes to the poor.

Examples? Evidence? Witnesses? Exhibits? Something? This is a serious request. My views on abortion used to be considerably more lax until someone trapped me into the contradiction.

carl

22 June 2013 20:51  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

David Lindsay:

I'm sure you know more about this than I do, but it seems to me that the vein of discontent which Owen Jones is currently tapping will need more than just a nod from him to switch to Labour.

At the party level, Owen Jones MP is no doubt where it will go, but there will need to be some theatre - some purging of guilt from Labour - before he will be able to take everyone he is currently wooing with him.

I admit to largely comparing this to UKIP - where a similar directive from Farage to vote Conservative would require a substantial perfomance of change to pull the 'kippers with it. Perhaps the lefties are more easily led.

22 June 2013 21:38  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

Carl

Examples? Evidence? Witnesses? Exhibits? Something?

You decide, honesty, whether deep down you would support the rich man taking the poor man's lamb.

Most people deep down do. (Myself included)

You rightly say that Evil originates in the human heart. Any system we put in place will not be perfect, so clearly we have an ideal excuse to do as little as possible to alleviate suffering and injustice? This is the sort of rubbish that gives particularly Evangelicals a bad name. It was not so in the early Church and it was not so until relatively recently and (as a result?)we find the State taking on this role of supporting the poor and giving them Justice.

We moan about the state doing this badly and wasting money, but I why did the state step in in the first place? A Frankfurt School conspiracy to make Christians look bad? No we did not need help looking bad with this one, that's the problem.

We blame the poor for being poor and so we take what (little) God has given them for our enjoyment. ---- I know, you have a thousand buts -- if you really think about it it is true.

OK maybe the socialists are trying to build a golden city that will fail. But hang on a min, they are trying to do justice for the poor and have succeeded in some measure. So as Christians we just rubbish their efforts and then happily "build our own storehouses"?

Schadenfreude (The feeling of joy when one sees another fail) sums up many Christians current attitudes to socialism. However, sadly, I don't see any plan Bs for justice for the poor from us as Christians.

No wonder they often hate us, mock our faith and call us hypocrites.

They are right!

Phil


22 June 2013 22:09  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

Bluedog

I'm not sure that many of them are really saying that it is a zero sum game.

"the government takes money from the pockets of those who did not cause the crisis and rewards those who did" seems a pretty fair summary of what actually happened to me.

Phil

22 June 2013 22:19  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Phil

I honestly don't have any idea what you are talking about. That was a nice little political rant, but it was too ambiguous to actually decipher. What is it specifically that you think a Christian must support or do in the context of that post?

even so, I will try to respond as best I can. It is no accident that the Political Left is in general anti-theist and virulently anti-Christian(1). It begins with a false view of man as both good and perfectible. It seeks to establish the Gov't as a bread king to be worshipped - the giver of a perfect society such that man may be free from want and need. It has nothing to do with "justice for the poor." You have to be blind, deaf and dumb to history to think Socialism is about correcting "injustice." It is about re-creating man by recasting his external influences. "Whence cometh war? The Ownership of capital! Well, let's socialize capital and then war will go away." Why do you think the Communists killed off the Kulaks and the Priests and the Bourgeoisie and the members of the other criminalized classes. They were trying to build the New Soviet Man. That way was freedom. But what does the Scripture say? Why is there wars among us? What does the Scripture say? Where may we find freedom?

I don't make a lot of arguments about the proper place of Gov't in society. I comment instead about the nature of the world view that drives the gov't. If the Christian church seems too conservative to you, perhaps that is because there is no legitimate Left wing Christian presence. Perhaps all we see is the counterfeit Christianity of TEC - a false religion that seeks to build the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth on the assumption that men are proto-gods of goodness. A religion that isn't quite sure whether God exists or not, and is quite sure it doesn't matter all that much. It would be good to find a legitimate liberal Christian counterbalance to the conservative Christian presence. But it has to be authentically Christian. Let me know if you find one. There certainly ain't one in the US.

carl

(1)TEC, et al ain't Christian. They are the Political Left dressed up in religious clothes. They have created a religion that worships man and covered it with Christian terms. They would have followed Lenin t the Finland Station. Ironically enough, Lenin would still have had them shot. Useful idiots. Deviationists. Fools by any other name.

22 June 2013 23:05  
Blogger bluedog said...

Phil @ 22.19, a more honest description would be along the lines, 'the government wishes to be re-elected and having over-pledged the tax-base, finances its promises with debt. This stimulation of the economy is conscious because it creates jobs even while increased transactions on the back of uncontrolled liquidity flow through into bankers bonuses'. As a codicil, one could add, 'after the inevitable economic collapse which follows these cyclical bouts of profligacy, we find it much easier to blame the bankers for allowing the situation to develop in the first instance. After all, if we told the electorate that we had misled them with false promises of debt-fuelled prosperity we would never be re-elected'.

And its wrong to claim the debt will never be repaid. It will be repaid but in devalued currency after judicious inflation. The people who are really robbed are the prudent with savings. The people who do best are those who align their fortunes with those of the government, in the sure and certain knowledge that universal suffrage leads to perennial inflation. In other words, borrow money, but not for consumption.

22 June 2013 23:08  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...


Christians should beware of any loose coalition of interests by the political left that include the hammer and sickle. Left means godlessness and persecution of those that believe...


22 June 2013 23:23  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

Carl

Now that was a political rant....!

OK I will keep it very simple.

The message that you propound here is not Jesus' message of giving justice to the poor.

I'm sorry Carl your rant sounds to me like

Luke 11:39-42 Then the Lord said to him, "Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You fools! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? So give for alms those things that are within; and see, everything will be clean for you. "But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and herbs of all kinds, and neglect justice and the love of God

Are we told to relieve the suffering and bring Justice to the poor yes or no?

Are we doing it?

(You have to be blind, deaf and dumb to history to think Socialism is about correcting "injustice.")

I'll stick with the blind, deaf and dumb label then Carl. To be honest I did not expect insults, but then you are so much cleverer than the rest of us. I must be mistaken about the various acts to improve working conditions, to provide free healthcare, access to education, equal treatment of races and gender, consumer protection, disability rights, equal treatment before the law etc etc.

Of course socialism is about correcting "injustice". If we recognise this for an instant we might find some common ground with the ones you despise

Phil


22 June 2013 23:36  
Blogger David Lindsay said...

Rather convoluted circumstances have prevented my attendance at the People's Assembly Against Austerity. In the absence of Press TV, there has presumably been no television coverage whatever.

On 9th November 2011, Press TV reported an enormous student demonstration in London while the BBC and Sky News refused to do so, instead pretending that it was not happening,. At least on air. There might have been something on the websites if you looked hard enough, but you would have had to have looked very hard indeed. Soon afterwards, Press TV alone reported an attack on the Iranian Embassy in London.

And soon after that, Press TV was stripped of its British broadcasting licence, ostensibly because it was subject to overseas editorial control. Well, Fox News is subject to no British editorial control whatever; the American station is simply broadcast simultaneously in this country, and that is that. Yet it recently endorsed the EDL, both on air and on Twitter.

Press TV, although obviously based in London at least in part (look who is on it), has certainly never interfered directly in our political life like that, still less has it ever endorsed a terrorist organisation on our soil. The Islamist terrorists here are in fact the ones whom we support in Iran, the likes of Jundullah. Those are also the ones whom both we and Fox News support in Syria.

The matter of Fox News and the EDL is now in hand. Watch this space.

And I suppose, even expect, that there might have been something about the People's Assembly on Russia Today. That largely London-based and famously Anglophile station has two million or more viewers in the United Kingdom. It has been known massively to increase the British parliamentary by-election votes of parties and politicians whom it has covered, not as interference, but as honest and balanced reportage.

One such party has been UKIP, with Nigel Farage long a fairly regular fixture on Russia Today. Is the People's Assembly movement to Labour as UKIP was until recent weeks to the Conservatives? No. The People's Assembly's Grand Old Man is Tony Benn, who would never tell anyone to vote any way apart from Labour. And its megastar is Owen Jones, who is very likely to be a Labour candidate in 2015.

If anything, what we are seeing is the unification of the Left, together with a vastly wider coalition of those dispossessed by the cuts, behind the return of a Labour Government. The very opposite of UKIP's impact, if any, on the next General Election.

22 June 2013 23:40  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Phil:

I hope you won't mind another voice offering a slightly different perspective.

I live in a very poor area of Belfast - a good portion of my neighbourhood could quite accurately be described as being slum conditions. There's no point in trying to categorise my neighbours - some are here genuinely through runs of bad luck, some through an exceptionally poor inheritance, and some because they have, for various reasons, brought it on themselves.

I should say for the record that my wife and I came to the area because at the time we could afford to go nowhere else. We are marginally better off now, so I suppose we could afford to move out, but we have come to actually really like the area - well, not like the area, as much as the neighbours and the church.

I don't much know what social justice means in our neighbourhood. Certainly, it *does* make a difference when government decisions negatively impact on the amount of income coming into a home, and there is no doubt that poverty is responsible for a great many of the ills and evils that are around us.

God hasn't equipped us with a lot of money, to be frank. The thing is, though: our neighbours aren't really looking for it. When they come to church it is invariably because they thirst not for a release from poverty of the body but of the spirit. I mean that quite sincerely: many of those who have been saved have not materially ended up much better off. It doesn't really come up much.

I'm not saying you're wrong to get angry about poverty - especially when it really is the result of injustice. When people are robbed and cheated, when systems are deliberately and purposefully set up to keep them impoverished (socialists as well as Tories have managed to achieve this), I see no reason to think that God's judgment has changed from when He gave it to Isaiah. But I assure you: for every suited cheat, there is another on this estate. For every unjust system, there are unjust men.

We just have to do what we can, and always pray - because God will always provide all that we need. In some senses, the estates have it easier: our foes are likely to be people of flesh and blood, and more than one brother and more than one sister here was once numbered amongst them. It's far harder to convert a system.

If you feel that God is calling you to serve the poor with what you have at your disposal, then great - you'll have my prayers. Lend us a few of yours while we do the same here - but unless He tells you otherwise, I wouldn't stress too much about lending us money. God provides.

23 June 2013 00:19  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

David Lindsay:

Sorry, I don't know if you caught my comment earlier, but I wonder if you might answer a (genuine) question:

I understand (and I'm sure you're right) that the politicians are aligned as you say they are, I just wonder how analagous the blokes on the ground are to UKIP - inasmuch as the 'kippers would probably take a lot more convicing than Farage (or indeed any UKIP politician) simply turning round and saying "vote Conservative".

Is there an element of the feeling of betrayal to account (partially) for the PA's support - or is that just the coverage?

23 June 2013 00:23  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Phil

I did not intend to insult you. I apologize for doing so.

carl

23 June 2013 00:32  
Blogger David Lindsay said...

AnonymousInBelfast, this is not a party, and so far as I can tell everyone of any importance in it is a Labour Party member, with the money coming from exactly the same organisations as fund the Labour Party.

There is no reason for any of its supporters not to vote Labour if they vote at all (which they were already extremely likely to do next time), and this whole thing is an entirely open device to ensure, not only that they turn out and vote on the day, but also that they turn out and deliver leaflets throughout the preceding month.

The last thing that the People's Assembly is, is anything to worry the Labour Party in the least. That is the last thing that it has any desire to be, either. Nothing could be further either from its effect or from its intention. It is an integral, and apparently rather successful, part of the Labour machine.

23 June 2013 00:47  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Ah, thanks for replying David. I am perhaps unduly influenced by having read far too much of groups like the (surely ironically named) "Unite the Left" and assumed the People's Assembly was driven by much the same sense of a defecit of representation.

23 June 2013 00:57  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

Carl/ AIB

Thank you for your comments. I'm not sure though that you are getting the heart of my argument.

The bible teaches us that the poor will have the little they have taken away from them. Matthew 25:29

If someone opens a shop in a poor part of town. The poor spend their money in that shop but where does the shop owner (or shareholders) live? In the rich areas right? So there is a constant taking of money out of poor communities. If you open a shop in a rich area this does not happen. The money is recycled around the rich people, unless one of the shop workers is from the poor area the money does not reach the poor.

The rich tend to get richer the poor tend get poorer. That is injustice.

If you are incredibly lucky/talented, and make it from a poor area (statistically you have to be incredibly lucky and talented) do your kids go to school in the poor area once you have made it? Do you live in the poor area?

What about free choice? I used to think that it is all about an individuals free choice until I heard this story from a pastor who worked in a very deprived town. He mentions a girl, called Lisa. Lisa was stunningly beautiful and became a strong Christian -- the only one in her family, was baptised etc after joining the Church through outreach activities.

One day Lisa stated that she had been pressured to join the local prostitution ring. The Pastor, in his naievity just told her to be strong tell them that you are a Christian now and was not interested etc. The pastor went on holiday for a few weeks and when he returned after a month or so he realized that he had not seen Lisa in the Church. After he tracked her down she stated that she had indeed become a prostitute.

He asked her why and apparently after she had first said no her father was beaten so badly he was in hospital for a week. When she continued to say no they threatened to kill her brother and rape her sisters. The Pastor said that this was terrible, why don't you go to the police? He said he would never forget the scorn on her face when she replied "how do you think that they can beat my father and force me to be a whore. Who do you think THEY are!"

Is you daughter forced to provide sex to make other rich? No? then she probably grew up in the rich part of town. The place where THEY above bring up their daughters. The rich have free choice, the poor do not. That is injustice.

Do I personally work with the poor? No. Am I a socialist? No. But I does make me angry when people like you Carl stand on your high horse and take the piss of those who try to do something. Or say it is pointless trying to do something quoting stories of 1930s Russia.

I often wonder if we were all right wing Bible believing Christians. We would not have a perfect world at all just Churches filled with "elder brothers" (As found in the "prodigal son")

Phil






23 June 2013 07:34  
Blogger Edward Spalton said...

All my life, since I started to read newspapers in the Fifties, Labour have been whingeing about "the cuts". All my life the tax take has been rising. There is a profound disconnection between reality and the Left's perception here.

What they mean by "cuts" appears to be expenditure not rising as quickly as it used to.

By all means prosecute tax evaders and tighten the rules but let comparable justice be visited on tax wasters - politicians or officials. The German Taxpayers' Association is already pressing for this.

23 June 2013 09:25  
Blogger The Explorer said...

Phil:

Matthew 25:29.

Interesting point! But if Chrsit is talking Nathan-style economics about the rich taking from the poor, then surely we should mean that a talented person is a wealthy person? In practice, we can say Blake was a talented artist - and a more than talented poet - and yet he died poor.

If you look at the bit that follows in 'Matthew', it seems to be about salvation. If you look at the 'Luke' version of the Talents, that seems to confirm it: using or neglecting what you have been given will have consequences.

But I agree; as it comes across in English, the bit you cited is most disturbing if read literally.

23 June 2013 09:41  
Blogger bluedog said...

Phil @ 0734 says, 'If someone opens a shop in a poor part of town. The poor spend their money in that shop but where does the shop owner (or shareholders) live? In the rich areas right? So there is a constant taking of money out of poor communities. If you open a shop in a rich area this does not happen. The money is recycled around the rich people, unless one of the shop workers is from the poor area the money does not reach the poor.'

Back to zero sum. The economy is a holistic entity that is not restricted to the silos that your political view demands. Where do the goods sold in the shop come from? Are they manufactured locally? If so, that provides employment for other 'poor' people. Is that good, or bad? If the goods sold in the putative shop are imports, that provides employment for people in other countries who may be buyers of British manufactures. Does it matter if these buyers are rich or poor? Or is their money just the same in each case?

You seem determined to draw a moral distinction between rich and poor: Rich and self-sufficient bad, Poor and dependent good.

As to the story about the pretty girl who is forced in to prostitution, perhaps you should answer the question, 'Who do you think THEY are?'

23 June 2013 10:48  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

Bluedog.

You seem determined to draw a moral distinction between rich and poor: Rich and self-sufficient bad, Poor and dependent good.

And where exactly did I say this?

Phil

23 June 2013 11:13  
Blogger bluedog said...

Phil @ 11.13, you don't. It's the clear impression that this communicant draws from your posts on this thread.

Constant reference to injustice seems framed in such a way that if the self-sufficient are not guilty they should be. On the other hand the victims of injustice have done no wrong and society is to blame, innit?

23 June 2013 11:59  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

There is an excellent mechanism that punishes the rich if they allow their money to wallow in the ‘security’ of a bank account rather than re-investing it for the communities benefit, and yes, it is the main way the community benefits from having the rich around. It is the gap between inflation and what now passes for an interest rate.

If you take the rich out of the equation, by punitive taxing at source, everybody ends up poor.

And you won’t find that truth in the bible either...


23 June 2013 12:04  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

Bluedog

"Constant reference to injustice seems framed in such a way that if the self-sufficient are not guilty they should be. On the other hand the victims of injustice have done no wrong and society is to blame"

That was not my intention. Guilt should not come into it. (I am blessed with being relatively rich and I do not feel guilty about it. "victims of injustice have done no wrong" sometimes true "and society is to blame" I believe that Bible teaches us that we are commanded to do something.

What we are asked to do is to provide justice for the poor. I.e. in my view helping the poor to gain economic self sufficiency and prevent them being exploited.

Most people are poor because of circumstances beyond their control. You don't get 8 year olds saying to their parents that they need to provide them with better role models, encourage them to work hard at school or indeed get a better school. You don't get a 4 year old saying that their parents need to read to them at night. They are a product of their circumstances. This is invariably, parents/community/peers

Phil

23 June 2013 12:36  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Phil:

While I don't know Lisa, I know a sister like her. She now knows the Lord - she has been freed from bondage, from condemnation. But she hasn't been freed from her area: she still lives there, she still has the same neighbours. She believes, and regularly testifies to the effect, that she is there because God wishes her to witness to others in the same situation.

What's more, it is my firm and sure conviction that even and especially in the most desperate injustice God has real and sovereign power.

As I say, I don't think you're wrong to want to be engaged with poverty, nor to want to look at both its immediate symptoms but its structural character.

I just think you're worrying about poverty being a limitation on God. You've identified that it's a war: you just haven't realised the implications of Who is leading our side.

I have a friend who grew up in a house with no father and no money. They quite literally didn't have enough money to eat sometimes. God's provision to them was immediate and it was day-to-day. His mum often tells us of the times when the cupboard was bare, but God would tell them: you will be fed, and they were - but only, as she is always at pains to emphasise, after they'd first said grace round an empty table to thank God for what He would provide.

On another occasion, they really needed to pay for the MOT on their off-the-road car for her son to be able to get to a job interview. She had no way of paying for it, but again was told, go and it will be provided. She took a walk whilst it was being serviced, and when she came back and asked for the bill she was told that a man had walked in off the street feeling absolutely compelled by God that he should pay for the MOT on the car they were servicing.

I've lost count of the times where the money that comes into our collection plate is exactly right - down to the penny very often - for a cost that we need to meet. A couple who I know from a previous church have just this week been telling me how God provided a substantial sum of money to enable them to move to a very poor part of Wales. Funnily enough, the husband has just spent two years working with the poor, having been commanded by God to give up work to do so.

That's the other side, the side where God commands us into poverty, or tells us to remain in poverty - or even prison (as in the case of Paul and many others since) - because He wants them to witness there.

Sometimes God saves people in poverty not to remove them from it, but to liberate them from its shame. Equally, though, through all these deeds, there is the other side, the people who God calls on to make His provision manifest. There *have* been times where we have had no clue as to how He has provided, and no indication of an earthly origin, but more often than not, God delights in bringing in other Christians to share the blessings that He has given them. You don't even need wealth to do that: just a willing heart. But if you have wealth, I should say, put it at His disposal and you will not go far wrong.

He's good at maths, is God. He will see to it that every penny is accounted for - especially the one that seems lost.

23 June 2013 12:41  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Just found the perfect passage that basically says what I did in a better way. The TLDR Scripture edition is:

"The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.

Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.

As it is written,
“He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor;
his righteousness endures for ever.”

He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.

You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.

For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God.

By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission flowing from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others,
"

2 Corinthians 9:6-13

23 June 2013 12:51  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Poverty, what poverty ?

Where are the starving in the UK. Where are the ill dressed (...the young and stupid people excepted...) ? The unclad who walk the streets in bare feet...

Look at the so called beggars on the street. All able bodied, and all have the look of contracting out of society, for THEIR reasons. The druggies and the alcoholics - Victims of their own misfortune. Not everyone makes it in this world. Tough. Maybe if the feckless turned their life around and embraced Christ it would be better for them. But they won’t.

So if you have a bit of money behind you (...as opposed to a mortgage which this man has...) bloody good luck to you. Let no one send you on a guilt trip. There is no guilt...


23 June 2013 13:38  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

“I had a nice little begging operation going in Jerusalem until Christ cured my lameness, that is. I mean, no consideration whatsoever. I’m going to have to work for a living now, and come home tired like everyone else. I didn’t ask him to cure me, and none of my regular patrons did either, he just did, and when my back was turned too. There was I sprawled out in my comfy ‘For God’s sake, give me alms’ position on the ground and the next thing I knew I could walk. That’s what really hurts, he interfered with me without asking.”

“Anyway, I told blind Bob about it, and he understandably ran off, as much as you can do when you’re blind. He’s up in the hills now. Asked me to come and fetch him back when Jesus leaves...”

23 June 2013 14:37  
Blogger bluedog said...

Phil @ 12.36 'That was not my intention. Guilt should not come into it.'

That's more like it.

And, 'I believe that Bible teaches us that we are commanded to do something.'

So we do, as a willing gift, but guilt is not the motivation.

23 June 2013 15:15  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

Inspector/ AIB /Bluedog

Thanks for your comments but I think you really mean that I am talking primarily about money.

When the Bible talks about Justice for the poor, it is not primarily, in my view talking about money.

You can even up incomes and still have large amounts of injustice in the world as Carl's frequent references to 1930s Russia illustrates.

My illustrations I hope show that often the poor cannot change their lives, because the rich by and large, organise the world to their advantage (by taking what little God has given to the poor) and always has done.

Phil

23 June 2013 15:24  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Phil:

"My illustrations I hope show that often the poor cannot change their lives, because the rich by and large, organise the world to their advantage (by taking what little God has given to the poor) and always has done."

This is, undoubtedly true. The question which, it seems to me, we must ask as Christians before all others, is what can God do?

23 June 2013 17:17  
Blogger The Explorer said...

Inspector @ 14:37

Love it!

23 June 2013 18:09  
Blogger David Lindsay said...

AnonymousInBelfast, Unite The Left probably means "the Left within Unite". I could be wrong, but that sounds about right.

As for uniting the Left, the Coalition has done that admirably. Take a look at the list of organisations affiliated to the Labour Representation Committee chaired by John McDonnell (who was too ill to attend yesterday), and which is also supported by Tony Benn and Owen Jones.

Then remember that such affiliation commits an affiliate constitutionally to the election of a Labour Government. Any available Labour Government. Of which there is always one at any given time. But never any more than one.

23 June 2013 18:21  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Unite The Left probably means "the Left within Unite".

Love it. Spot on too: the point they seemed to most consistently want to communicate was that they weren't those splitters over at Left Unity.

I'm not a socialist, and I value social conservatism too highly to be comfortable with the modern Labour party (but then, the same is true of the Coalition), but there is a core to British Labour, historically at least, that has my respect and (at times grudging) admiration. If something of Labour's socialism-via-methodism emerges, I won't be at all sorry.

And if it doesn't, I still hope that the result is a more ideologically confident Labour movement - even if it means putting the frightners on (C/)conservatives. The asinine consensus politics have all too often been the consensus of the smug and ineffective political class.

23 June 2013 20:49  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

Carl

I should applogise also

OK 6 hours late, I know

Phil

23 June 2013 21:03  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Phil

It's not late, and there are no worries on my part. :)

I was serious though. I know that sometimes I am deliberately provocative. Sometimes I do it to force an issue. Sometimes to push the limits of an argument. What concerns me is when I provoke without intending to do so. We all have our biases and blind spots - things we can't see in ourselves. If you have seen hard-heartedness, I want to know what you saw. I can't correct what I can't see.

carl

23 June 2013 22:32  
Blogger Manfarang said...

There is TUSC standing in elections but they get few votes.
TUSC-Trade Union Socialist Coalition-is Labour's Ukip and they make little inroads to Labour's support.

24 June 2013 06:28  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

Carl

Jesus was asked why he sat drinking in bars with sinners rather than going to have tea with nice people.

Clearly you have had personally a lot of advantages in life over most people.

Most people are not like you, they are not clever, or organised, they make bad choices or they mess up their lives.

You seem to have no sympathy or love for them

A few years ago I joined a Union. I did not have to but I thought it would be a good witness. Unions were often founded by Christians but in Europe at least we are very thin on the ground today. I am now on the executive of one of the largest unions in Europe.

It is hard for a Christian as there are lots of things that I disagree with. I often put what I consider to be the christian case on issues and it is often, but not always, voted down.

What I have found is that generally, there are really good people in the union. Often nicer and more compassionate than many people in my Church.

What I think really pisses people off is that you seem to come across issues like a WW1 battlefield. The enemy are on the other side, regardless of whether they are conscripts or not.

Therefore you seem to say, if they are poor it is their fault. They should not have been so silly as to make these stupid life choices. But you know that often most of them did not chose the life they have, it was decided for them by factors well beyond their control. (Parents, community, schools, drug abuse, family income etc)

Most people do not have careers they have jobs. They want to be treated decently by their employer and receive reasonable remuneration for what they do. If they are kicked out they will often not be re-employed ever.

Carl I know you mean well, but we are told to be salt and light. To me that is not just sitting in my bunker throwing bombs at the other guys, but taking the more difficult path of having a beer and being with people you don't at first have any connection with.

Phil




24 June 2013 16:40  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...



Before some of you moan about high paid union officials. I fulfill my role in the union on a voluntary basis.

Phil

24 June 2013 16:52  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Phil:

I've been a union rep (though not currently) as well, so I have nothing against them, and would echo the general sentiment that most of the people (at the ground level at least) are decent in the sense that most civilised people are, I wouldn't say that I've ever been under the impression that the vision of social justice in trade unionism was entirely synonymous with what I've seen of God's work.

It may well depend on the union - mine was Unison - and it may well be that your union is considerably less, well considerably less dogmatically materialist.

24 June 2013 18:07  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

AIB

"I wouldn't say that I've ever been under the impression that the vision of social justice in trade unionism was entirely synonymous with what I've seen of God's work"

I wouldn't either.

So do we disengage or engage with the culture?

What did Jesus do?

Phil

24 June 2013 18:55  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Phil:

I don't think there is a need to disengage from the culture around us. Nor do I think our response is mandated by that culture.

But it seems to me also that the question of what Jesus did is quite central. When you look at it, He didn't do an awful lot of practical social justice. He certainly taught such justice - but always from the perspective of a person's heart.

The instruction to give all that one has to the poor was given to a man who wanted to know what he should do in order that he would be saved. There is no question that we ought to put all that we have at God's disposal - but this is more than mere duty, and it is more than mere social justice: it's the foundation of the Kingdom - and that is a Kingdom which is not of this world.

It is not constrained by our laws, or our economics. The hopelessness that the poorest and most desperate are ensnared in is no impediment to the King who conquered Hell.

We aren't exhorted to give because our aim or even the product of our charity is an equitable system, we are called to be generous in all that we have because God will make what we have abundant through grace.

That's why the rich Christian must often get rid of his wealth: he has become bewitched by its power, so that even though he does not worship it as the Gordon Geckos of the world do, he ends up seeing things through its lens. He sees no "realistic" (very often the word invoked) answer to the question of whether it is possible to build social justice without capital on your side and under your control. God, implicitly, waits for the rich men to act justly.

They should act justly: because they have been blessed. All God's blessings can only be grasped once they are put to the service of others, because their purpose is the abundance of His grace.

But it doesn't much matter to our Father in Heaven whether the amount we have is £10,000 or £100, or perhaps only a packet of crisps. What did Jesus do?

He fed 10,000 with six loaves and three fishes, with baskets to spare.

There's not a socialist theory in the world that can begin to approach that. They seek after a just system: we seek after a Just God who wants us to love the least of our brothers wildly and fiercely.

24 June 2013 20:13  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Sorry for the longwindedness - I should probably reflect more before posting.

I think the way to sum it up is this: the problem with socialism is not that it wants to ensure the dignity and the happiness of the poor; the problem is that it is based in the wrong economy. At its most radical, it can conceive only of the abolition of capital itself.

We have instead the economy of the Kingdom. An economy in which everything is on its head: where the most precious Coin of all was spent to secure the most worthless prize.

If we want to see God's Kingdom come, we don't need to purchase with earthly coins: we purchase souls with the same that purchased ours - Jesus' blood.

As C.S. Lewis put it: aim for heaven, and you'll get earth thrown in; aim for earth and you'll get neither.

24 June 2013 20:29  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

AIB

But there is a disengagement and it is likely to get worse.

Christians are less likely in the future to choose the public services, especially say teaching and the police, because they feel that they are working in a system that is increasingly hostile to them.

Disengagement I believe will just result in more polarisation and suspicion.

If you are into politics, which I am not, the easy path for a Christian is to join UKIP or the Conservatives. The harder path is to join New Labour or for the really called, perhaps the EDL.

Jesus did not do much social justice, but there is a lot evidence that the early church were very concerned for the poor, were very protective of marriage and were very generous with their money

That is why many early commentators thought they were bonkers, but later, especially the fidelity and concern for the poor, made even their enemies concede that this (unlikely as it seemed to them) was one of the main reasons for their rapid growth.

Phil

24 June 2013 21:04  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

AIB

I am a little concerned that you seem to say don’t worry God has got it in hand.

When the 4000 / 5000 needed feeding the disciples asked for Jesus to do something. He could have supplied manna etc

But Jesus answer to them was “you do something!” so they gave him the boys small lunch of bread and fish, which they thought was totally inadequate and he fed 4000.

I do believe that God wants us to do something first, to give him the little that we have and then God will use it. That is how he works.

Were there any ancestors of socialists and union men in the 4000/ 5000?

You bet there were! And murders, atheists, pagans. Etc

Why do I help out in the union? Because I like it, it is interesting, I am quite good at it and a complete change from my other work. I also meet and get to talk to people who I would never engage with very deeply in a normal day.

I also get to help people and to my surprise really like standing alongside people in their need and helping people to stand up for themselves.

It is like loaves and fishes. It is up to God to make use of what tomorrow might bring. But to me it is not a burden and neither I suspect, was giving out loaves and fish for the disciples. Indeed I bet it was the best meal they eat all week!

Phil

24 June 2013 21:26  
Blogger david kavanagh said...

As I've always suspected the Gentiles are far more cunning in biz than us Kippah wearing Yids!

My Kippah is well and truly off to Phil Roberts, who manages to be a capitalist businessman with his caravan hire business one day, the next, on the board of the TUC! Not even I could think of a better business strategy than that kind infiltration ...

...next post Phil Roberts is also a part time Rabbi (who does Bar Mitzvahs for FREE!).

OY VEY ! Wot more do Vov want??

ps- (:

24 June 2013 22:13  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Phil:

"I am a little concerned that you seem to say don’t worry God has got it in hand. "

Yes I am saying that, why should that be a cause for concern? It's what Jesus taught:

"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

...

For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." (Matthew 6:25, 32-33; my emphasis)

In a sense the pin-head point on which we appear to be slightly at odds comes down to a way in which this statement may be taken:

"I do believe that God wants us to do something first, to give him the little that we have and then God will use it. That is how he works."

If you mean that to mean that God more often works through many hands, delighting in strengthening not only the faith of the one who receives but the one who gives, then I should say I agree entirely - and somewhere in the morass of text I posted above I made a similar point. If you mean it in a more exclusive way, that we shouldn't go looking for manna from heaven, or even that no manna from heaven will be forthcoming if we need it, then we are more at odds.

This is I suspect why you are concerned about the opening statement: it looks all too much like complacency. I can understand that, and it does indeed look that way - but only if God does not provide in active manner. That hasn't been my experience, or the experience of many of the brothers and sisters who I know. That's why we say with confidence that God will provide: not because we take for granted (in the sense, that we use it as an excuse to do nothing ourselves) that He provides, but because there is a trust that He will provide all things that are necessary to us.

This is the truth that comes first - it is the Kingdom above the social justice (which is a symptom of the Kingdom, not the other way around).

It comes back to the economy of Heaven: we are tasked as God's stewards to seek out the best investment with what He has blessed us with. We could seek exclusively after earthly justice, it could be our all-consuming aim - and though that investment could not be entirely called poor, what is its return? The things of the earth will pass away (Matthew 6:19-21).

If we seek after our neighbour, if our consuming aim is the salvation of our friends whom we love and our enemies whom we love, what shall be our return? How much greater the investment will be counted. It does not look much now: as I said above, many of those who I have seen saved in my neighbourhood remain poor, remain unskilled, remain unloved by most of the world - but prized above Heaven by God. The treasure house for those who have saved the least of Christ's brothers and sisters will be overflowing.

I suppose it might be possible to save the soul and neglect the body - but actually I don't think it is. If you set your heart on salvation, you cannot help - as you rightly point out - but care for their body. The work we have been appointed to is nothing less than participating in God's restoration of the whole of man.

I don't think you should even have to worry about justifying your membership or participation in your union. Nor do I think you should leave - I just think it is important not to mistake the very different aims. Our calling is higher than the socialist. Christ's teaching is better. That's why I avoid terms like "Christian socialist" or "Christian conservative". All the good you may encounter in either is but the shadow to that Good, embodied in full, in God.

So we set our aim to the highest: be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.

24 June 2013 23:26  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Two other minor but important points:

Firstly, God is much better at socialism than the socialists. if the aim is to redistribute from each according to their ability to each according to their need, you can find no finer administrator than God. So many of the testimonies I have encountered include accounts of how God has laid a command on someone's heart even though they knew nothing about the situation. My pastors at my old church, for instance, on first arriving in a foreign country, were commanded to give up their car to a sister who they had never met, but desperately needed it. There's a reciprocity of faith in such exchanges: it is a moving thing to know that God cares enough about you to place your needs on another heart, as it is humbling and honouring to know that He has chosen you to be the vessel for His provision. Grace abounds. So if the aim is efficient provision to those who need it, we literally cannot improve on seeking out and listening to the omniscient Lord.

But there is also a measure, and sometimes a draught of sacrifice involved. My pastors also needed a car, and giving it away, knew they would have to do without in a strange place with a young family. Yet, the very trust that led them to obey comforted them that their needs would also be met. As it happened, they were able to get a new car through an elderly friend - but some months later.

Setting aside all theory and philosophy, it seems to me that that is the fundamental difference - and perhaps the irreconcilable difference - between socialism and Christianity. Socialism does all that it does to equalise. It expects everyone's standard of life to be commensurate to the next when it is successful. God promises no such equality of existence. The most consistent theme about poverty in Jesus' teaching is not merely "give what is right" but "give until it hurts". In this we are as shadows to the hurt that He suffered in His gift. You might even say that far from abolishing poverty, we have been set on a road that, if followed faithfully, will lead us into poverty. Sometimes genuine and abject poverty, in places where injustice seems enthroned.

But that too is our hope: for even in the places where the angels fear to tread, there God is King. Amidst the dirt and the depravity, amidst the foulest and most sinful of mankind, is the Man of Sorrows. It is the very core and crux of our faith that the Father set all such darkness on the shoulders of His Son. He didn't send Jesus to end poverty, or to overthrow the unjust; He sent Jesus to suffer into abject destruction, and to be handed over to the unjust.

24 June 2013 23:44  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

David K

I do work for my living.

I have not been a lazy businessman all my life.

Phil

25 June 2013 13:15  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

David

Not all unions are affiliated to the TUC !

As for part time rabbi.

I have started, tentatively, the process for ordination

Rabbi has never appealed!

Sorry!

Phil

25 June 2013 13:18  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

AIB

I am not really making the case for socialism, rather to say that many of the concern for the less fortunate that perhaps as Christians we all should share.

Phil

25 June 2013 13:25  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Phil:

Yep, I agree we should share with the socialists God's compassion and love for the poor, but I also think we should share God's compassion and love for the socialists.

Perhaps the Lord has led you to your union role, not only to learn about service for the poor, but also to witness to your fellow trade unionists about God. My point is simply that yours is the richer blessing to bestow.

25 June 2013 14:33  

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