The Bishops should have second thoughts


This Easter I have been re reading the Anglican Bishops letter for the General Election. It doesn’t make better reading the second time round. Rather it does now seem even more unfair and inaccurate  given how the economy has developed.

The Bishops main case is that all the political parties have failed, hence the need for their intervention. They tell us “The problem is no-one in politics today has a convincing story about a healthy balance between national government and global economic power”. “Our democracy is failing because successive administrations have done little to address the trends which are most influential in shaping ordinary people’s lives”.

I thought one of the big arguments in this election is just that balance between the state and the private sector, with different visions and versions from Conservative, Labour and SNP/Green. All the main parties think they are addressing the issues that most worry people, in their own way. Conservatives have put through a change to get multinationals to pay their fair share of profits tax. Labour wants to place further controls and taxes on big business.

This aggressive attack on all politicians and parties may be popular, but as I expected there is no evidence that the Church is going to put up candidates to show us how to do it, and little evidence that the Church has found an agenda which can unite electors and get them enthusiatically going to the polls where the parties in the Church’s words  “fail”.

So what are these trends in “ordinary people’s lives”, as the Church somewhat disdainfully calls us?

The first is rising unemployment which the Church says we have been experiencing since 2010 (p46). It is a pity they were unable to read the official figures which show great progress in cutting unemployment since 2010, and a pity they seem unaware that tackling nunemployment has been a central priority of the last government. Nor did the Opposition disagree with the aim. The argument is over how best to carry on cutting unemployment, and over how to ensure the jobs are well paid.

The second is their allegation of rising inequality.On page 49 the Church says we need to halt the move towards more inequality of wealth. On page 33 they wrongly state that material inequality continues to widen. Once again they failed to read the national official statistics. The Gini coefficient, a recognised measure of inequality,was at 34.7 in 2006-7 and has fallen since then under the coalition, where a lower figure means less inequality. The richest have made the biggest contribution to getting the deficit down through a substantial rise in the tax they pay.

The third is the Church’s belief that we need to share a cultural identity with the EU, not with the Commonwealth or other global groupings. Page 30 seems to be an attack on Eurosceptic opinion. There is no mention anywhere in the tract of the huge damage being done by the Euro,  by the EU austerity policies and the high energy costs that come from Brussels. Nor is there any sympathy for the unemployed on the continent or anger about the mass unemployment in some continental countries, and the especially high youth unemployment, let alone any suggested remedies.

I do think  Bishops  should set themselves higher standards of drafting and evidence before sounding off on these very sensitive issues. Have they yet had time to research the true trends of unemployment here and on the continent? Have they yet checked their facts on inequality and who is paying the extra taxes?  Will they correct their mistakes?

It would be good if the Bishops recognised  that Conservatives set out to create the conditions in which the economy generates  more jobs and better paid jobs, as we wish to tackle poverty vigorously. Their absurd caricature of the Thatcher years is too wrong to be able to rebut in a sensible space. I want to live in a prosperous society where there is opportunity for all and decent state support for those in need.

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  1. Sandra Cox
    Posted April 8, 2015 at 5:26 am | Permalink

    John, I read this on Breitbart recently:

    “They used to call the C of E the Conservative party at prayer.
    Now it’s the Looney Left pretending to be at prayer.”

    Common Purpose – alive and kicking us wherever it can!

    • Mitchel
      Posted April 8, 2015 at 9:20 am | Permalink

      Like most of our tired,no-longer-fit for purpose institutions,they have been infiltrated and taken over by the otherwise unemployable middle class leftwingers.As a result once noble causes have become self-serving “industries”,funded or subsidised by the taxpayer.Bring on the revolution!

      • Peter Stroud
        Posted April 8, 2015 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

        I think you are absolutely correct. When I was a young man there was an extreme left wing cleric, he was described as The Red Dean. But he was probably one of a handful of socialists in dog collars, at the time. Now there seem to be many more: including the current Archbishop of Canterbury.

  2. Richard1
    Posted April 8, 2015 at 5:26 am | Permalink

    The Church of England has unfortunately become a complete irrelevance. It had more influence in the 1980s – when of course it was just as wrong, opposing all those Thatcherite reforms which have now been imitated across the world, and arguing for the appeasement of the Soviet dictatorship through unilateral disarmament. Do the bishops wish the people of Eastern Europe back under the communist jack boot rather than having the Thatcher-inspired low tax free enterprise societies (many) now have?

    The bishops’ failure to obtain even a summary briefing – illustrated by these and other basic errors in their letter – shows a lack of humility and self-awareness which is profoundly at odds with the Christian tradition and the teachings of Christ, and contrasts unfavourably with the public statements of leaders of other religions.

  3. Richard1
    Posted April 8, 2015 at 5:40 am | Permalink

    Tony Blair has warned that a Conservative government might bring economic ‘chaos’. Can we expect also to hear Gordon Brown argue that we need another Labour government like the one he was chancellor and prime minister in, so we don’t have more ‘chaos’? ‘LoL’ as a teenager might say.

    Separately, Conservatives (and UKIP I guess) need to watch out for a highly partisan leftist political commentator at the BBC called Norman Smith, whose reporting is clearly pro-Labour. (Only a move to a subscription model is going to cure this problem at the BBC).

    • agricola
      Posted April 8, 2015 at 8:35 am | Permalink

      Yes I would strongly argue that the News and Current Affairs element of the BBC needs to be separated from the rest and be subjected to the commercial pressures of the market place. It has become yet another party in the politics of the UK.

      It also brings great harm to the Drama, History and David Attenborough elements in the BBC who mostly do an excellent job that deserves support as a public broadcasting service.

      • lifelogich
        Posted April 8, 2015 at 11:21 am | Permalink

        Well even these elements of BBC push the expensive energy global warming catastrophe religion.

        • acorn
          Posted April 8, 2015 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

          For those taking bets on the number and time of “lifelogic” comments on this site, be aware that we are assuming that “lifelogic” and “lifelogich”, are one and the same.

          If either of those terms are repeated in a reply comment, they do not count as a “lifelogic” post. This, because all commenters do not always reference “lifelogic(h)” specifically in their replies.

          We thank you for your co-operation in this matter. etc ed

    • Bob
      Posted April 8, 2015 at 9:57 am | Permalink


      “Only a move to a subscription model is going to cure this problem at the BBC”

      Agreed, but unfortunately the powers that be are talking about scrapping the Licence Fee and lumping it onto the council tax bill to make it harder to not pay. This would also give the BBC an extra couple of hundred million saving from Capita’s fees.

      Subscription would be the right thing to do, there should be no compulsion.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted April 8, 2015 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

        LibLabCon clearly like to have a BBC that endlessly pushes for more EU, more government, more taxes and more greencrap, equality of outcome regardless and a lack of moral hazard or any rewards for the sensible. Using licence fee payers money to indoctrinate the public. Just wait for the EU referendum if we ever get on to see it in full glory.

        Cameron even appointed Lord Patten as chair and now we have Lord Hall to keep it just that way. Will someone please save us from endless, pro EU, fake green, big state, lefty, over paid, second rate PPE & art graduates and fake Cameron wing Tories?

  4. Bazman
    Posted April 8, 2015 at 6:05 am | Permalink

    All real evidence says different, massive numbers using food banks due to Duncan Smiths benefit sanctions, bedroom tax and lies, yes bear faced lies against all evidence from even his own sources, tax cuts for the rich with tax rises for the rest via the Tories favourite tax VAT. The rich seemingly volunteering to pay more tax. As if. More VAT rises planned and more attacks on the workforce by further casualisation of work and corporate welfare and more such nonsense as the 175 million Boris bridge for rich chums.
    Tory end game after the election with a majority. Or the Turbo Tories UKIP. The normalisation of poverty. Count on it. The mindset by their lying fantasist supporters who believe they own the facts on this site says so.

    Reply There is no VAT rise planned. The aim of Conservative policy is to help people out of poverty. Why on earth would anyone want to normalise poverty?

    • Edward2
      Posted April 8, 2015 at 7:45 am | Permalink

      It was all so perfect during the 13 years of the last Labour government and we are are told it will return to perfection once again if they have another go.

      • Bazman
        Posted April 8, 2015 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

        How are the Tories doing on housing using widely accepted figure edward? Do tell us?

        • Edward2
          Posted April 9, 2015 at 7:42 am | Permalink

          Perhaps the Church of England might like invest some of their billions in providing more houses.
          You keep telling us how much money buy to let landlords are making.

          • Bazman
            Posted April 9, 2015 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

            The church of England are to blame then? Not real.

          • Edward2
            Posted April 9, 2015 at 11:38 pm | Permalink

            Well of course the wicked Tories and wicked landlords are to blame Baz but if its so jolly profitable why dont others like trade unions and churches get stuck in and build some much needed homes.?

    • Richard1
      Posted April 8, 2015 at 8:23 am | Permalink

      Nothing alleviates poverty better than increased employment. Under the Conservative-led govt nearly 2 million private sector jobs have been created – that means real jobs because someone is prepared freely to pay someone else to do something – not govt mandated make-work jobs. This was against specific predictions by leftists on all sides that unemployment would in fact rise. Ed Miliband for example forecast that if you cut 1/2 million public sector jobs, as the govt has done, you would lose 1/2 million more due to the multiplier effect. The (formerly) oft-quoted Danny Blanchflower, a leftist economist, predicted 5 million unemployed!

      It really is time for the left to decide – its its prosperity and alleviating poverty you are interested in then admit you were wrong. But if its just about ensuring an ever-expanding socialist state than admit that it will come at the cost of lower prosperity, job losses in the private sector etc.

      • Bazman
        Posted April 8, 2015 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

        What type of jobs have been created and are they better than the jobs lost? No is the answer. and interesting to see what you though job figures would do when the minimum wage laws where announced and what you have to say for yourself now?

        • libertarian
          Posted April 9, 2015 at 5:34 pm | Permalink


          Time for bed said Zebedee

          • Bazman
            Posted April 10, 2015 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

            No answer so this is the reply? Well. What do you have to say for yourself instead of banal meaningless comments. Can’t hide all the time as we are seeing with many Tories.

    • agricola
      Posted April 8, 2015 at 8:39 am | Permalink

      Reply to Reply

      Only those who are congenitally impoverished and prefer to live on the back of the tax payer.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 8, 2015 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

      If you give things away for nothing and publicise it you usually find you get a queue. People can then eat and still have their cigarettes or larger perhaps.

      As you see with the four hour waits at the “free” NHS. Benefits in the UK are often rather more than people get from working after the expenses of working.

    • Mondeo Man
      Posted April 8, 2015 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

      Bazman – “The mindset by their lying fantasist supporters who believe they own the facts on this site says so.”

      Harsh words.

      In keeping with the violence, bullying and disorder that the Left metes out when the democratic vote doesn’t go its way – or when someone expresses views it dislikes.

      In so far as I’m aware right wing Conservative and UKIP supporters have been polite, orderly and law abiding in the face of violence and insult.

      What they demand, for example, is not to come out of the EU but that we have a fair vote on coming out of the EU.

      Far from ‘owning’ the facts – something you’re quite prone to doing yourself.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 8, 2015 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

      The definition for poverty so often used (60% median income) is clearly totally absurd and meaningless. Like the living wage it is a nonsense lefty political construct to ensure we alway will have plenty of poverty to complain about. Even if these poor would be in the top 5% of income percentiles in very many countries.

      • Bazman
        Posted April 9, 2015 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

        Nine quis an hour is a nonsense lefty political construct? Enough to live on and pay bills. Comparing the poor of this country and the poor of the third world is like comparing the 15th century with today. More lying repetitive propaganda that you have been pulled about before.

        • Bazman
          Posted April 10, 2015 at 11:41 pm | Permalink

          So! Its disgusting.

    • Bob
      Posted April 8, 2015 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

      If everyone’s money were redistributed with equal shares for all it would not take long for the current distribution pattern to re-emerge and you would soon be back to carping about the unfairness of it all. You should just learn to accept that the likes of Wayne Rooney, Elton John and Tony Blair will always earn more than you because they’re more talented than you.

      • Bazman
        Posted April 10, 2015 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

        We saw Englands ‘talent’ during the world cup. Pasty at best and inherited or stolen wealth is not gained by talent.

        • Bob
          Posted April 10, 2015 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

          Remember the words of the John Lennon song?

          “I’m just a jealous guy…”


          Baz, Don’t worry about what others have, empty pockets never held anyone back, only empty heads and empty hearts can do that.

          • Bazman
            Posted April 11, 2015 at 10:33 am | Permalink

            Another comment that blames anyone who pulls any injustice in this country as just jealous. Just thick and for you information my pockets are far from empty unlike your head.

    • libertarian
      Posted April 8, 2015 at 9:47 pm | Permalink


      You wouldn’t recognise evidence if it bit you on the backside.

      80% of population of world lifted out of poverty due entirely to free market over the last 40 years. Highest number of people in full time well paid employment since records began in UK. Tax cuts for lowest paid with raising of threshold and another increase in minimum wage due, zero rate of interest and wages growing faster than inflation.

      Deluded socialism has been well show cased by your party today, once again caught out not knowing their ar*e from their elbow on non dom’s

      • Bazman
        Posted April 10, 2015 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

        Only 20 of the world is poor now! We are all middle class now by your logic I suppose and especially if you work in an office on six quid an hour. Privileged by world standards?!
        Non dom status is understood very will by many and any cursory look on the internet underlines its injustice even the Tories are reportedly planning their own non-dom crackdown so don’t pretend you have a monopoly on knowledge. We have seen many times that you and that other fantasist lieslogic do not. All based down on trickle down economics which in the case of non doms does not happen in many cases as they don’t spend money here.

  5. alan jutson
    Posted April 8, 2015 at 6:18 am | Permalink

    Anyone can have a personal view on politics, that is freedom of speech, but when selective Organisations try to get involved with politics, do not support any political group, and do not put up any candidates themselves, it simply is a rather meaningless and pointless protest.

    Yes many of our Churches (places or worship) of all religions do some good work locally to help the local congregation, as do many other non religious local and national voluntary organisations.
    Religious establishments get some benefits from the present system as I understand it, with some tax breaks (zero Vat on some repairs etc) not sure if they pay any tax on their income (collections/donations).

    Perhaps if the Bishops of the Christian faith had a full attendance at every service, they could speak with rather more support, in the meantime perhaps they should reflect, if their product and message was so attractive, why are so many Churches near empty.

    I see the National Trust are now wanting to attempt to get involved with the politics of so called sustainable energy, and all things so called green.
    Perhaps they should have consulted their membership first.

    I am sure most people live a reasonably balanced life in this Country, take a sensible view on community matters, politics, work, family life, religion, and are law abiding, so why do some people/groups try to unbalance it by interfering in areas where they do not actually get involved.

    Put up, or shut up springs to mind, if you are that interested in politics.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted April 9, 2015 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

      As I recall Brown devised a scheme to reimburse churches for the VAT on repairs, which he was unable to remove or reduce to zero because of the EU rules.

  6. stred
    Posted April 8, 2015 at 6:20 am | Permalink

    Re. tacking nunemployment- para 6. It would have been better if these hypocritical bishops had not made nuns redundant in the first place. The C of E had many, who did a great job cheaply.

  7. (Old Albion
    Posted April 8, 2015 at 6:22 am | Permalink

    Frankly, the views of people who devote their lives to worshiping a non existant entity are not of any great value.

    • Mike Stallard
      Posted April 8, 2015 at 10:25 am | Permalink

      Are you talking about just government by the people, for the people? A government which can solve all problems? A government which can provide full employment for all and abolish poverty?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 8, 2015 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

      It does show rather a lack of an “evidence based” approach.

      So it is indeed rather difficult for especially a scientist to take anything they say very seriously. Even if they do have splendid purple and gold robes, large mitres and pronounce from ornate pulpits in large decorated buildings.

      Those pious voices and the over slow delivery does not help either. If something is daft it is still just as daft even with all this finery and theatrics. Indeed perhaps even dafter.

      • Bazman
        Posted April 9, 2015 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

        Since when have you ever accepted an “evidence based” approach. Get real. No matter how much evidence is shown to you you just repeat the same drivel. Why is that?

  8. Lifelogic
    Posted April 8, 2015 at 6:47 am | Permalink

    Why are the Bishops in the house of Lords anyway? They are just purveyors of complete and utter irrational lefty drivel, rather like most of the BBC.

    It is all about envy, jealousy, food banks and irrational emotions, almost never about people standing on their own feet, providing for themselves their families or creating jobs for others. Government rarely create jobs they mainly destroy them by taking money off the job and wealth creators and largely wasting it. Mainly on complete nonsense, green religions or by endless over regulation and other regulatory obstacles.

    Why for example is government forcing the huge expense and hassle of enforced pensions onto employers while at the same time allowing people take it all out again at 55.

    If you want more jobs just make it easier to fire people, deregulate employments, tax less and get some competition in banking. How can it be right that the banks can charge 12%+ for an overdraft facility to solid customers but pay you 0.25% on deposits a margin of 4800%?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 8, 2015 at 6:49 am | Permalink

      I see that Miliband/Balls now want to abolish the nondom laws – is there no end to their stupidity and economic illiteracy? This would be about the most foolish thing he could do for the UK economy, so many wealthy would just leave especially from London. He should be extending such tax advantages to all. The non doms in the UK has been one of the great UK economic successes.

      Perhaps they will all go and be non Doms in Dublin. Just why should anyone have to pay the government say £3m per year just to live in the UK and perhaps £40M on death in the hated Inheritance tax – while getting almost nothing of value back from the state. A tax cap of circa £200K PA for all would be a much more sensible move for the economy.

      Who would choose to live in the UK and pay these huge sums to government to watch them waste them? There are far more pleasant and conducive places when you can keep the tax and put the money to far better use than Miliband and Balls ever will.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted April 8, 2015 at 6:59 am | Permalink

        If Cameron cannot beat Miliband and Balls he cannot beat anyone, Labour are clearly trying to lose at every turn. Cameron/Osborne need to hammer home the message that all will have lower tax rates and this will create wealth and jobs and far more tax revenues. Alas Osborne budget did nothing to help let us hope they can still do something with the manifesto and in the few days now left.

        Miliband and Balls are even more anti business than Vince Cable and Ed Davey.

        So far they have been pathetic on lower taxation and any vision of growth – not even re-promising the IHT £1M threshold they have ratted on for 5 years.

        • Ian wragg
          Posted April 8, 2015 at 7:35 am | Permalink

          I don’t think any party wants to win as we are in for a massive correction vis a vis Government spending. The deficit is going to have to be cut drastically so that we can join the Euro. When we cannot print our own money the debt servicing charge will be unsustainable.

          • lifelogic
            Posted April 8, 2015 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

            It is very easy to cut the deficit just stop the government pissing endless money down the drain. Much of what they do does positive harm anyway. Start by scrapping the greencrap grants for idiotic expensive energy systems, cut state sector numbers by 50% and reduce their remuneration by 1/3 to take it to private sector levels, get out of pointless wars, stop paying the EU for nothing of any value ……

        • A different Simon
          Posted April 8, 2015 at 8:31 am | Permalink

          Lifelogic ,

          Ed Balls and Gordon Brown kept us out of the Euro to the great consternation of the Conservative Party .

          It would be naive to believe that messrs Balls , Miliband , Cameron , Clegg are not fully aware that in our global economy there is hardly any scope for pay rises in Britain ; to minimum or average wages .

          To remain anything like competitive the cost of living (accommodation) has to be brought down so that current wages are sufficient .

          It angers me that they must know this but refuse to be honest about it . How can these people call themselves leaders ?

          • Lifelogic
            Posted April 8, 2015 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

            They need to get productivity and exports up Osborne has failed hugely in this.

            The main UK “export” we have is the sale of expensive houses in London to Non Doms which look set to be killed by Miliband and Ball’s stupidity and election throwing incompetence by Cameron.

          • Mitchel
            Posted April 8, 2015 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

            I fully agree with you….and bringing down accomodation costs means bringing down property values which may bust the banks again.

            The same people must/should also realise that there is also a good chance that some time during the next parliament Sterling will have a major wobble as the markets focus on our gaping budget and current account deficits,causing inflation to re-emerge-particularly if Ed Milliband’s proposals re non-doms choke off the capital inflows that enable us to pay for the container loads of Chinese tat we seem to be addicted to.

      • Hefner
        Posted April 8, 2015 at 9:24 am | Permalink

        For a rubbish post with no underlying thought whatsoever, that wins the first price: Dublin? when these people have properties in the Virgin Islands, in Belize? or claim that status because one of their ancestors, more than a century ago had a French father. Check your facts, you are becoming ridiculous!

        • lifelogich
          Posted April 8, 2015 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

          I mention Dublin only as Ireland too sensibly runs a non Dom regime, speak English and it is attractive for some. The non Dom regime has been a huge asset for the uk abolishing it would inflict pointless damage on the economy even the non Dom fees currently extracted are damaging. Clearly the rich have no shortage of options for pleasant places to live.

          In short it would if introduced deter very many with substantial assets from ever coming to or returning to the UK with their money businesses and jobs. Meanwhile foolishly keeping open doors to benefit claimants and minimum wage usually net liability workers from the whole of the EU.

          • Hefner
            Posted April 8, 2015 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

            I want to be sure I understand correctly: Abolishing the non-dom tax status “would inflict pointless damage to the economy”, but taking the UK out of the EU would not.
            It seems that the chairmen of BT, the London Stock Exchange, the Royal Bank of Scotland, and some non-exec directors of Royal Dutch Shell, Nomura, Barclays, and others from the CBI do not seem to agree with the second part of the statement above.

            Reply No-one in the rest of the EU or here in the UK is talking about damaging our trade with the rest of the EU, so what do these business people have in mind by way of damage?

          • Lifelogic
            Posted April 8, 2015 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

            Clearly not being in the EU would be a large net advantage to the UK. We would have free trade without the idiot regulations huge membership fees and we could be more selective on immigration, we could negotiate our own trade agreements, have a sensible energy and employment policy and chose to whom we gave soft university loans to.

            A seat at the table is worthless anyway as we are nearly always outvoted and then we are legally mugged by the rest of the EU. Better not to have the treaties at all. (Oh sorry they are not treaties once ratified are they according to Cameron).

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted April 9, 2015 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

            JR, maybe these business leaders know their history and fear a repeat of this kind of thing:


            “The Berlin Decree was issued in Berlin by Napoleon on November 21, 1806, following the French success against Prussia at the Battle of Jena. The decree forbade the import of British goods into European countries allied with or dependent upon France, and installed the Continental System in Europe. All connections were to be cut, even the mail. Any ships who had been discovered trading with Great Britain were liable to French maritime attacks and seizures.”

            Oh, but hold on, it didn’t work:

            “The Continental System eventually led to economic ruin for France and its allies. Less damage was done to the economy of Britain, which had control of the Atlantic Ocean trade. Other European nations removed themselves from the Continental System, which led in part to the downfall of Napoleon.”

        • libertarian
          Posted April 9, 2015 at 5:46 pm | Permalink


          I know you don’t know much about the world but I suggest you look at the tax rates and rules in Dublin. They are amongst the most attractive for those who are wealthy and looking to do business in Europe. I think you’ll find there are altogether different reasons for owning homes in Virgin Isles or Belize.

          Oh now the lefties suddenly like tax avoiding multinationals , I see.

          85% of ALL trade and economic activity is WITHIN the UK. There would be no trade damage leaving the EU.

          the CBI represents 160k Large businesses, there are 5.2 Million businesses in the UK

          Even if Labour managed to get around the 100’s of Double Taxation Agreements the extra ( non dom’s already pay full UK taxes ) income generated would be pitifully small. This is another typical Labour jealousy policy designed to get the ignorance vote.

      • Bazman
        Posted April 9, 2015 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

        You assume they are here just for non dom status and no other. This is just wrong. How many left once NMW was introduced or a Labour government was in power. We do not respond to threats do we?

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted April 8, 2015 at 7:56 am | Permalink

      “Why are the Bishops in the house of Lords anyway?”

      Before Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries loads of abbots also had the right to attend, and while I’m normally prejudiced in favour of tradition I think it’s wrong, misguided sentimentality, that the archbishops and a limited number of bishops have been kept. It’s not as if they’re ever short of a platform outside of Parliament from which they can proclaim their views, which seem in general to be left-wing and unpatriotic views. We can see how the FPTP system for the Commons can lead to substantial bodies of political opinion being barely represented in that chamber, and yet we still have clerics cluttering up the second chamber.

      • Little Black Censore
        Posted April 8, 2015 at 11:12 am | Permalink

        “It’s not as if they’re ever short of a platform outside of Parliament from which they can proclaim their views…”
        Parliament is not a platform for the proclamation of views but the body that (in theory) makes our laws. That makes it even more important to have the right people sitting as members.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted April 8, 2015 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

          It’s both; not all parliamentary time is devoted to legislation.

      • lifelogic
        Posted April 8, 2015 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

        Indeed the Bishops’ juvenile views, if put into practice, would just harm the very people they claim to want to help.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted April 8, 2015 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

          Perhaps they are used to preaching to and rattling their collection boxes at the gullible and simply cannot get out of that mode of thinking?

          • Bazman
            Posted April 9, 2015 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

            As you are unable to defend most of your arguments and seem to believe the rich and yourself are some higher power constantly wanting more money then maybe they are allowed to do the same?

  9. Matt
    Posted April 8, 2015 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    I wouldn’t worry about it John. Considering the sort of nonsense they’ve come out before, I think they’ve established themselves as a source of comedy rather than wisdom.
    I doubt they read anything other than the Guardian before writing it.

    I’m not happy about unelected parts of the establishment sticking their oar into our democracy like this. Perhaps it’s time to reconsider the establishment status of the Church. We could at least kick the Bishops out of the Lords. Come on, almost everybody knows that the Church of England a social/business organisation rather than a religious one.

    • Mitchel
      Posted April 8, 2015 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

      It looks like the Church and the leftwing establishment (which the Tories seem unable or unwilling to effectively challenge)are trying to ape the Caesaropapism (lovely word!) of the old Byzantine Church and modern -and resurgent-Russian Orthodox Church( V Putin does God like no other leader since 1917!)

  10. Dame Rita Webb
    Posted April 8, 2015 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    Somebody needs to remind the bishops that they should go back to doing what they are supposed to do i.e. teaching people that they should lead moral and chaste lives, free of materialism. Then perhaps the taxpayers would not be burdened with the liability for single parent families. The NHS would be freed from treating STDs, providing abortions and dealing with those who abuse alcohol and drugs. A simple reminder from the pulpit each Sunday, to ignore what the mass media tells you about having the lifestyle you deserve might also go someway to eliminating all that poverty caused by debt too.

    • A different Simon
      Posted April 8, 2015 at 8:18 am | Permalink

      “supposed to do i.e. teaching people that they should lead moral and chaste lives, free of materialism. ”

      The primary purpose of church ministers and bishops is surely to spread the message of salvation through Jesus Christ .

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 8, 2015 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

      “materialism” and what is wrong with materials? – houses, food, machines, tractors, cars, heaters, factories, freezers, clothes, chairs and even bishop’s gowns and mitres – it is how materials and wealth is used that matters.

      Generally it is used far better by the people who made it not the state or the churches.

  11. brian
    Posted April 8, 2015 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    No wonder the Church is losing members. And no exhortation that personal morality should be invoked to counteract some of the issues that affect society.

  12. Denis Cooper
    Posted April 8, 2015 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    I think it’s pretty certain that if we ever had another referendum on the EU then those leading the churches would be on the wrong side, whatever opinions may be held by the members of their congregations. And I don’t just mean an “in-out” referendum, but any referendum on the EU, for example on whether we should join the euro or accept some new treaty. Bear in mind that Church of England bishops assumed a leading role in the attempts to break up England into euro-regions; I well recall writing to many of them suggesting that if they carried on like that then they should be defrocked.

  13. agricola
    Posted April 8, 2015 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    As they are in the business of disseminating the divine truth of the life of Jesus Christ it is incumbent upon them to be accurate within the known facts. Being merely mortal they are entitled to have an opinion outside their area of expertise, but again they should take the trouble to be accurate. They would seem to be inventing a story to suit a very shallow argument.

    They would be more convincing were they to follow the lifestyle of their late leader, moving among the people, living at best in semis rather than palaces, and emulating the Mother Teresas of this World. As it is, they are just another lobby group like the CBI with a case written to fit their opinion rather than the facts. Perhaps the autocracy of the EU appeals to them in a form of nostalgia for a power they once had in the Church of Rome.

    Yesterday we had one Anthony Blair doing much the same, but with even less credibility.
    Having largely created the pre 2010 economic chaos and rampant unwanted immigration
    on an unprecedented scale, he indulged in a speech of black propaganda. He told us that we would be diminished in the World by leaving the EU when in fact the opposite is true. Our trade agreements , laws, control of our borders , and our very sovereignty are all controlled by a totally undemocratic alien power which we the people were not allowed to have any influence over. You see before you the mother of modern democracy being daily destroyed by the EU at whose altar, said Blair, worships. Having achieved nothing but chaos in the Middle East, apart from personal financial gain, perhaps he is now angling for a position of status within the EU.

    Why your leader ever saw himself as an heir to Blair I will never know. To his credit last night he came over as a sincere human being in a life through the keyhole of number 10. If only he would have the courage to explain why he is so enamoured of the EU or to declare for a referendum in 2015. The latter might ensure his ability to carry out such a referendum by getting an overall majority in May.

  14. oldtimer
    Posted April 8, 2015 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    Are the bishops now receiving funds from the EU? We deserve an answer. In focussing on disparities in wealth, they seem to have overlooked the huge rise in living standards in the UK since WW2. They sound like the apostles of left wing propaganda.

  15. petermartin2001
    Posted April 8, 2015 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    Its true that unemployment in the UK is nowhere near as bad as in the EZ. The use of its own sovereign currency gives the government more policy options than are allowed to those who have to abide by the SGP rules of the euro.

    However, the economy isn’t healthy. There a lot of phony self-employment. Many jobs are poorly paid and part -time. Productivity is lower now than in 2008 and shows no sign of improvement. The recovery from recession is really non-existent compared to previous recoveries. Convincing the electorate they should feel better off is a hard sell for the coalition in this election.

    The following graph shows that productivity has flatlined since 2007. Had it kept going at it its pre-crash trend GDP would be be 15% higher than it is.

    • Edward2
      Posted April 8, 2015 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

      In my experience of the engineering industry, I recall when there was a large number of applicants for vacancies at low wage rates, few firms invested in expensive automated machinery.
      And since 1997 we have had a big increase in immigration who mainly have fitted that bill.
      Same would apply in agriculture, I guess.
      Perhaps a reason why productivity figure show what they show for the same period.

  16. rick hamilton
    Posted April 8, 2015 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    If I were writing a job description for the Archbishop of Canterbury it would start with “Promote the teachings of the Church of England and no other”.

    However, being nominally a member of the CoE, I find almost nothing of value being said and no moral leadership being shown at the top except for the usual Guardian/ BBC style moral relativism and hand-wringing defeatism. With the AoC being an ex-banker with supposedly some experience of reality, something robust about the central role which the Protestant work ethic has played in the economic success of the West might not go amiss.

  17. Iain Gill
    Posted April 8, 2015 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    To be fair the ruling elite of this country is a very poor quality, including the leadership of all the main parties and the church. The church is on thin ice anyways depending for its existence on medieval superstitious nonsense which has been gradually eroded by common sense and science. But then the main parties are as bad peddling clearly failed concepts like the NHS as some sort of religion. They seem to have common ground on the absolute tosh that comes out of the cabinet office too, which anyone with any real delivery experience could demolish without much effort. Compared to our competitor nations our people are very let down.

    • A different Simon
      Posted April 8, 2015 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

      Justin Welby went to Eton .

      The U.K. establishment is drawn from the 7% of the population which goes to independent schools .

      Effectively 93% of the gene pool is deemed too poorly bred/sub-human and bypassed .

      I have my doubts whether the current eugenic fast track policy is fit for purpose in the 21st century .

      • A different Simon
        Posted April 8, 2015 at 12:24 pm | Permalink


        It is very effective though at teaching plebs their rightful place and keeping them there .

      • agricola
        Posted April 8, 2015 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

        The 93% you refer to have been very badly let down by politicians of all persuasions since around 1960.

        There was the deliberate wanton destruction of the grammar schools through which children of less than wealthy parents could benefit from an education that was a stepping stone to higher achievement Then they destroyed the direct grant system whereby children of academic ability could take advantage of an education at some of the best schools in the country.

        The 93% were forced through political dogma to a less than adequate education in most of the comprehensive schools. Any country that fails to provide the best education that any one pupil is capable of benefitting from is unbelievably stupid. They deny themselves the lifeblood of the economy. No political system works without a successful economy. Within the sphere of blame I would also include the teacher unions.

        My own school was one of the 7%. Now the alumni of that school contribute to a fund of several million , set up to allow suitable pupils of impoverished parents to send their children to the school. Said pupils then go on to Oxbridge , other universities and usually well rewarded careers from which they can then keep the system in operation as we die out. Shortly we hope to have 100 out of 800 benefitting from the scheme. I would commend it to any school within the headmasters conference. It has the potential to produce more GDP than most politicians achieve.

        • A different Simon
          Posted April 9, 2015 at 8:49 am | Permalink

          My own secondary school in the late 1970’s to early 1980’s was a Comprehensive which implemented streaming ; an A-band and B-band .

          There was never any promotion or demotion between the bands in the 4 years I was there .

          I can say that for those of us in the A-band , the education was very good .

          Those in the B-band were written off but since school the B-banders have proved more entrepreneurial than the A-banders .

          One of the B-bander’s started a company and now lives in a big house in Weybridge on a secluded estate with Bentley’s parked outside .

          One of the A-banders in my year became a spectacularly successful hedge fund manager and philanthropist .

          Things started to go wrong when I moved to the local sixth form college to sit Maths , Physics and Chemistry A-levels .

          The maths teacher was good but the physics and chemistry teachers were useless .

          I ended up getting poor A-levels and managing to get into a South Coast polytechnic where all three lecturers were totally useless .

          I’ve done fairly well in the work place thanks to hard work and reading textbooks which explained the fundamentals underlying the field of data while commuting on trains .

          Would have loved to have had exposure to really good sixth form teaching and to have had my mind expanded by don’s at Oxford or Cambridge but you only get one life .

    • petermartin2001
      Posted April 8, 2015 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

      ….. medieval superstitious nonsense which has been gradually eroded by common sense and science.

      Anyone who’s ever tried to understand the workings of the atom, or the universe, for which time didn’t exist before the “big bang” singularity, will tell you that “common sense” isn’t at all a good guide. For many science can lead back to religion. That’s not the always the case, of course, but there are lots of instances where occurrences, in nature, happen so perfectly, that it does at least give us all cause to stop and wonder, even if only occasionally.

  18. David Murfin
    Posted April 8, 2015 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    The bishops should reflect upon Matthew 25, v14 – 30 and Romans 13.

  19. Horatio McSherry
    Posted April 8, 2015 at 10:08 am | Permalink


    “Have they yet checked their facts on inequality…”

    I would have thought if they were big on facts they wouldn’t be in the church to start with.

    Kind Regards

  20. Roy Grainger
    Posted April 8, 2015 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    Instead of pontificating on matters on which they have little knowledge or influence perhaps they should instead address the issue of how to defeat radical Islam as that would appear to be more within their area of responsibility.

  21. Tony
    Posted April 8, 2015 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    It would be good if Bishops stuck to their proper job. Churches are closing at a rate to nearly match those of large country pubs yet these theologians seem to be concentrating more on the politics of this land than the number of bottoms sitting on pews. Religion and politics should never mix. The Head of the Church, our Queen, does not interfere so why do the Bishops?

  22. AndyC
    Posted April 8, 2015 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    This bit made me smile:

    ‘I do think Bishops should set themselves higher standards of drafting and evidence…’

    Bishops are bishops precisely because they have low (non-existent) standards of evidence, and people only listen to them for the same reason. Their views should have no more weight than any other random group of individuals, and I fail to see why parliament continues to give them a platform for their largely Fabian lefty outpourings.

    • Mitchel
      Posted April 8, 2015 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

      Isn’t it ironic how the BBC despises Christianity but loves to air the views (possibly selectively)of the CoE’s clergy.

  23. Bill
    Posted April 8, 2015 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    We certainly need a moral perspective in the political process and it is reasonable to hope the Bishops would provide this. We cannot ‘live by bread alone’ or assume that an orgy of materialism will produce a perfect society.

    My reading of much of what the Bishops have said is that they look for a simple or simplistic topic around which they think that all shades of religious and political opinion will cohere: hence they speak about ‘compassion’ and ‘the poor’ as if this is the sum total of Christian social teaching. But there is far more in Christian social teaching than this. Look no further than Oliver Cromwell! Better still, listen to John Wesley who supported Tory government while simultaneously opposing slavery. It is this combination between justice and love for our neighbour that should characterise Christian teaching.

    On balance would I get rid of Bishops from the House of Lords? No.

  24. Martin
    Posted April 8, 2015 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    Given the problem you seem to have with bishops perhaps you should admit that King Charles the First was wrong (about wanting bishops), dump the bishops and ask the SNP to extended the kirk (no bishops) south of the border!

  25. ian
    Posted April 8, 2015 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    Mark carney says the deficit is 98 billion pounds for last tax year, not 90 billion pounds as wet&mad said and said it would be 96 billion pounds, government out of control.

    • Mitchel
      Posted April 8, 2015 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

      A spending splurge to make the short term growth figures look better before the election.See how quickly it unwinds after May.

  26. ian
    Posted April 8, 2015 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    that’s I said

  27. Bert Young
    Posted April 8, 2015 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    The “Church” should keep its nose out of politics . Until the arrival of Welby , I cannot remember any utterings on economic affairs coming from the church ; as soon as he had the top job he decided that his knowledge of economics could be featured from the pulpit – this , in my opinion , was wrong .

  28. Mike Wilson
    Posted April 8, 2015 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

    On the subject of ‘coming home’ – Mr. Redwood, as the father of adult children priced out of the housing market – could you explain why 292,000 people from OUTSIDE the EU were allowed to come here last year?

    I keep hearing your leader say you have cut immigration from outside the EU. But, in fact, you HAVEN’T. And, for the life of me, I can’t understand why not.

    ‘No ifs, no buts, immigration down to the tens of thousands …’ but, instead, we had 292,000 from outside the EU!

    Yours sincerely
    Baffled of Wokingham

    Reply The government tightened up the rules on various categories, and the n umbers started to fall. Last year there was a substantial increase despite the tighter rules, probably attracted by the success of the economy. As a result more rules are being tightened by the Home Secretary to hit future targets.

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted April 8, 2015 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

      Having promised ‘no ifs, no buts, immigration down to tens of thousands …’ – to say that ‘last year there was a substantial increase despite the tighter rules’ – sounds to me like indifference or incompetence.

      How on earth could you stand by while 292,000 people from outside the EU put even more pressure on housing, hospitals. schools, roads and railways? And you want us to vote for more of the same!

      • Mike Wilson
        Posted April 8, 2015 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

        I’ve just re-read your comment ‘ … probably attracted by the success of the economy …’

        One has to smile, I guess. Half the world would like to live here. Your job, as the government, is to prevent that and only to allow in people we NEED.

        • alan jutson
          Posted April 9, 2015 at 7:29 am | Permalink


          Your comments echo my thoughts and the thoughts of many others.

          On the plus side, I do see we are now starting to record those who are leaving (even if it is to go on holiday)

          Press reports suggest this will give an indication as to who and how many are overstaying on visitors permits.

          All they have to do now is find them and deport them !!!!!

          Seems like we may need to employ an awful lot more people on immigration control, which would be a good investment.

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted April 9, 2015 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

            Didn’t Osborne cut the budget for border controls?

    • Will H
      Posted April 8, 2015 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

      Reply to reply , the government has had five years to do something to control the numbers, but have done little until we are about to have the election, if they are returned in May how do we know it won’t be another feeble attempt with no effect, as many suspect will happen with the EU negotiation as well, the way we were steamrollered back into the EAW doesn’t inspire any confidence in this Prime Minister in looking after our interests.

    • Bob
      Posted April 8, 2015 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

      Reply to reply.
      Mr Redwood
      Why don’t you just follow ukip’s policy of an Australian style points based immigration system?

      • Iain Gill
        Posted April 10, 2015 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

        They already have that kind of system. They have just made some visa categories like intra company transfer visas exempt, and of course EU nationals.

    • Mondeo Man
      Posted April 8, 2015 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

      Reply to reply – Why so quiet about it ? This is the #1 issue for the voting public and yet immigration has virtually been dropped from the agenda by the Tory Party.

      It takes Nigel Farage to keep immigration to the fore.

      Well I hope people see sense and realise that there is nothing can be done about it and that there is nothing to lose by ignoring Mr Cameron’s plea to ‘come home’.

      ‘Home’ to what ?

      Massive debt ? Uncontrolled immigration ? Closer EU integration ? Economically debilitating green targets ?

  29. ian
    Posted April 8, 2015 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    The problem with the deficit is that brown sold 60 billion pounds assets a year and borrowed 36 billion pounds a year for 8 years, that’s why the parliament having trouble getting deficit down, wet&mad cannot bridge the gap, he has less than 300 billion assets left to sell, it way they have been trained like john, not capable of think out of the box, they just go round and round circles with bankers and big business, the answer is there but they cannot see it, if wet&mad is in next time he still will not get the deficit under 35 billion a year with lots more people coming into the country, he is not capable, one hiccup from hear and he will be well over 120 billion a year again. A 60 billion cut in spending is massive because you cannot rely on growth, super stores closing all the time now, he was 13 billion out on last year budget the deficit was to be 85 billion this year not 98 billion and not the full truth.

  30. ian
    Posted April 8, 2015 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    95 per cent mortgages back on the high street no need for help to buy

  31. Jon
    Posted April 8, 2015 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    After the previous Archbishop I was hoping they would choose a holy man rather than another naive political economist which they did. I like the fact that the Pope sticks to the church message.

    I think these interventions undermine the CoE, it’s is becoming a suedo political party and naive one at that. It brings into question the Head of State’s impartiality being head of the CoE. It also brings into question their privileged status in our constitution such as the House of Lords.

    I wondered whether when the Archbishop cancelled his Christmas speech bacause of a cold on the day of the Queens speech if words had been said. She had a very different message to the naive political one he was going to deliver. Anyway it’s nice they have kept quiet the last several weeks.

  32. libertarian
    Posted April 8, 2015 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

    Here’s an idea as the ultra left wing Church of England are one of the richest organisations in the UK, how about they actually pay some tax and contribute to society in a meaningful way.

    The CoE currently has investments of £5.2 billion and another £1 billion in various pension funds. So come on pay up, its only fair you know Welby.

  33. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted April 9, 2015 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    Is it fair that I should learn Urdu , Punjabi , Iraqian , French , Italian , Romainian , Polish etc to pander to the needs of all . It would be far simpler and fairer if all coming to our Country could speak English.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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