Friday, 14 February 2014

Who cares?

Christian churches in this country have an honourable record, at least in recent decades, of getting up the noses of governments, particularly of the Tory kind.  I can remember a Church of England report in 1985 called Faith in the City, which really annoyed Margaret Thatcher.  The right's response is always to tell the church to keep out of politics.  And that's no doubt what they are doing now.  On Monday we read about the report of an independent commission chaired by the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, on poverty and the need for the "living wage".  This was reported in the Independent, which carried an interview with the Archbishop.  He warned that, "Millions of low-paid workers are trapped in an unbreakable cycle of poverty, and are even turning up at food banks in their lunch breaks asking for help to feed their families."  This is in vivid contrast to the government's mantra of "making work pay".  But last year IDS accused the bishops of ignoring the concerns of ordinary people!
Perhaps more embarrassing to Iain Duncan Smith, a Roman Catholic, is the intervention today of Britain's most senior Catholic cleric, Archbishop Vincent Nichols.  The Telegraph carries an interview with him, in which he says that the government's reforms have destroyed even the most basic safety net, and have become increasingly punitive.  He talks of a "crisis" and a "disgrace".  But up pops the anonymous DWP spokesperson to parrot the familiar lies (why does no one ever name this person?).
We've known for a long time that Duncan Smith tries to silence criticism on the BBC, but on Tuesday we learned that he, or his minions, tried to shut down a spoof Twitter account called "UKJobcentrePlus not".  You can read the story in the Independent.  The DWP's brand (?) and public information manager, Jon Woodcock, complained that it was set up "with deliberate and malicious intent to devalue and criticise the work of Jobcentre Plus" and that its tweets were "rude and potentially libellous".  The account was taken down.  But its creators won on appeal - and gained a lot of followers in the process.  Well done.


  1. Perhaps it’s all to do with the Church of England is still being referred to as “The Tory Party at Prayer”. The Tories see themselves as the moral standard bearers of Britain. Despite their ministers and MP’s being caught up in various sex scandals and extra marital affairs.

    Take the old phrase “God helps those who help themselves”*. No doubt this fits in with the current government policies on reducing the welfare budget and other areas of social spending. As a result we are greeted with Cameron’s ‘Big Society ‘claptrap.

    Thus, they (Tories) no doubt see the church as being of message or disloyal when leading clergy say the opposite and indeed openly criticise government actions.

    The idea of making work pay is sound ONLY if work can actually pay in its own right. In the dysfunctional universe inhabited by the current front bench, work pays by reducing benefits and not by having a well paid job!

    * The phrase "God helps those who help themselves" is not in the Bible at all. It is often attributed to Benjamin Franklin and appeared earlier in Aesop's Fables.

  2. Sick of the Work Programme15 February 2014 at 05:49

    IDS claims to be a practising catholic, so hopefully Archbishop Vincent Nichols's criticism of welfare reform will touch a nerve with him. However, given IDS's bullish attitude to any sort of criticism, I somewhat doubt that it will.

    1. Maybe IDS confesses his "sins" and is forgiven. Sorry to offend anyones religious beleifs but I think to be an MP you need very thick skin.

  3. According to the media, Pope Francis has been “sneaking out of the Vatican at night” in order to befriend and help to feed some of the homeless people in Rome. Good for him and good for all the other major religions, too. They ALL disapprove of the capitalist antic of leaving the poorest and most deprived people in society to starve and I couldn’t agree with them more (the leaders of the major religions, that is.)

    Here in the UK, IDS might be a Cartlick but he certainly isn’t a Catholic.

  4. "with deliberate and malicious intent to devalue and criticise the work of Jobcentre Plus"

    Well, if it's possible to devalue something that doesn't seem to have much value in the first place.

    1. I agree,sadly I no longer put finding employment as a priority,keeping the JCP happy and avoiding a sanction seems to be the mantra,if you ask for any type of additional help it is rebuked!......."Please Sir can I have some more""

  5. At last a public figure who speaks up for the poorest in British Society. Perhaps the public schoolboys running The Labour Party should seek his advice.


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