Friday, May 08, 2009

Never talk about politics or religion.... (Part 1: Disclaimer)

I've never liked that maxim. Politics is all about what's actually important to people in their daily lives and religion is all about what's actually important to people on a deeper level. Surely we should talk about the things that matter to us?

However, I have deliberately avoided any political statements on my blog thus far. Today is an exception, I am going to be very deliberately and unashamedly political. I cannot completely explain why I have avoided politics before but given that this blog is my thoughts, nothing more nothing less, I have decided that I am free to say what I actually think. Hopefully I can avoid polemic.

Firstly, I am unashamedly left wing in my politics. And there are some serious philosophical reasons for this. My political position is essentially Christian Socialist in the traditional sense. John Smith was known for holding this position and certainly it was an influence on both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. How much of an influence is a matter of debate.

Unfortunately "socialist" is a word with many negative associations; partly this is because of the evils of communism and partly this is because of the prevailing wisdom of the last 20-30 years surrounding a genuine and inherently good belief in the twin values of personal freedom and personal responsibility. I would suggest that anyone who thinks that socialism is evil should read Martin Luther King Jnr on the subject of communism - written in the sixties when the full fear of the East was very real he makes no apology for communism but points out how foolish and wrong it is to ignore the great injustices that lead to the rise and appeal of communism.

Moreover that's not what Christian Socialism is about. Put simply, my Christian faith informs my politics for the simple reason that my God is deeply concerned about individual human lives and social justice. Even a quick reading of the Old and New Testaments would lead one to conclude that the poor and justice are God's core issues. From that basis, I approach all political issues trying to see the good. I think all issues are moral ones. It is this kind of thinking that led to the creation of the wellfare state and the national health service. Fundamentally to leave people poor and sick in the name of 'personal freedom' is not only wrong but blatantly paradoxical. I do not wish to party-politicise God. Simply my challenge to all believers is to approach politics from a Christian perspective and then listen to my arguments. To all non-believers my challenge is; listen to my arguments.

So that is where I am coming from, but it doesn't explain why I felt the need to write this political comment. The answer to that question is David Cameron.

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