Sunday, 24 July 2011

Christian Socialism

I came to Labour from a Christian socialist perspective. I am fascinated by the impact we have had and continue to have on British politics. The Methodist Church was a founder of the party and I think battle commenced from there. One of the great Victorian Trade Union victories, the London Dock Strike was assisted by the intervention of Cardinal Newman. Lord Soper (a Methodist minister and Labour Party activist whom I met) was another major influence on the Party for four decades. 

On the TUC London March opposing Coalition Government cuts 
with a strong Lincoln contingent 2011

Eric Heffer, a friend, was a very committed socialist and a strong Christian as is (in his own way) Tony Benn both very influential via Parliament. Tony has since continued to campaign as a citizen and feels a greater freedom of action. He once said to me and others that if voting made any difference they wouldn't let us do it ;-). I don't subscribe quite to that but its a good point, all the major freedoms we have gained have been the result of strong campaigns and sacrifices with some people losing their lives. I am reminded of Emily Davison who died after she tried to throw a suffragette banner over the King's horse, Anmer at the Epsom Derby of June 5 1913. A story first told to me on the knee of my uncle, Jimmy Brind, a strong supported of civil rights. Its worth remembering that we failed to become a democracy until the granting of full voting rights to women as late as 1928.

 I have long seen the sermon on the mount as a defining text for me politically along with the social justice teaching common to both the Catholic & Anglican Churches. 

Cllr Norman Haigh, Me, Cllr Paul Kenny, Tony Benn MP, Cllr Paul Goodale 
Tony was on a visit to Boston here in Lincolnshire in 1998.

Alongside all this there are the strong value based rich contributions from atheists like HG Wells and JB Priestley and in the modern day Ed Milliband (I met his father quite a few times and was very impressed).

Ralph Milliband 1958

Eric Heffer MP for Walton, Liverpool 1964 - 1991 RIP

I feel that we need as Christians to make a stronger public contribution to politics but in a way that builds unity and persuades those tempted by the secular movement mutual respect is a better approach.

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