Wednesday, 5 May 2010

The ecclesiastical establishment and the election: 2

Following on my previous report on what the ecclesiastical establishment is saying about the election, here are the views of the Rev Ian Galloway. Mr Galloway is Convenor of the Church of Scotland’s Church and Society Council - which effectively means that he is the Church of Scotland’s spokesman on political affairs.
“We want to know what values politicians will use when deciding how best to respond to challenges such as widening inequality and the legacy of the economic downturn. Economic injustices such as debt, homelessness, unemployment, and child poverty are not easily solved, but they should not be ignored.”
Hold on a minute. Debt is an injustice? Surely if I borrow money, then I have incurred a debt. What is injust about that. And homelessness? Let’s imagine that a bear arrives in Britain as a stowaway and managed to get to Paddington Station, armed only with a suitcase and a notice that says “Please look after this bear.” If no one takes m the bear home, then the bear is homeless, which is very unfortunate for the bear. But according to the usual meaning of the word, it isn’t unjust. And the same is true of employment and child poverty. To be unemployed or poor is unfortunate for those concerned - but hardly unfair.
"Politicians need to know that life is really tough for millions of people. The values we want to see in the decisions they take need to put the needs of the poor and the marginalised first."
The values that politicians have are very important. But even more important are effectiveness of the policies. What sort of policies should be implemented to help one parent families in council flats? Patently’s answer might surprise a lot of Scottish voters.
"Amongst the most marginalised are asylum seekers. Justice for them would be an end to the threat of detention for children and families seeking sanctuary from persecution. We want all candidates to know this matters to us."
He’s got a point. Asylum seekers sometimes have a rough time seeking to get into this country, and the processing of applications for asylum is far too slow. Libertarians believe in the free movement of people. Alas, this is just not realistic at the moment while Britain a large welfare state which provides generous automatic tax-payer funded benefits to those who are granted asylum.
"This election will be a key moment in the future of Britain’s Trident nuclear weapons. We have invited congregations to send a postcard message to their candidates asking them to scrap Trident if they get the chance. Imagine the difference that could be made to millions of lives if we didn’t spend billions of pounds on nuclear weapons."
Well, if you accept that Trident is utterly pointless and serves no useful purpose in defending this country, fair enough. If you don’t accept that premise, then you might want to imagine the difference that would be made to millions of lives if it turned out that the country did not have adequate resources to defend itself in the event of a real threat.

So, all in all, Mr Galloway seems to have fine ideals. I am less convinced about whether all his views are well thought out. Pretty typical of church leaders, some might say.


Albert said...


This is now the second piece on the topic The ecclesiastical establishment and the election: 2

As yet, you've not mentioned anything from the Catholic Church, yet there is much to be talked about: the documents Choosing the Common Good, and Some issues and questions for Parliamentary Candidates. Then there's Bishop Malcolm McMahon's comment that Catholics should "give it very serious consideration before they vote Liberal Democrat”.

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.

Young Mr. Brown said...


I've run off some quick thoughts on "Some Issues and Questions" - though it was pretty quick and hence superficial.

"Choosing the Common Good" would require a quite a bit of rumination.

As for Bishop Malcolm McMahon's comment, it's pretty blunt. But then we knew that LibDem philosophy was "If tax-payers pay for schools, then politicians have the right to dictate how faith schools operate."

Or even "If tax-payers pay for faith schools, then politicians have the right to use them to achieve their own political ends."

Anonymous said...

excellent points and the details are more specific than elsewhere, thanks.

- Thomas