Tag Archives: Justin Welby

Tory hypocrisy over Archbishop’s intervention in employment politics


It was the most overtly political speech from an Archbishop of Canterbury for many years (although incumbent Justin Welby, and others, have often commented on individual issues before). Here’s part of it:

https://twitter.com/AaronBastani/status/1039888161634234368

The Archbishop’s attack on Universal Credit and zero-hours contracts was welcomed by Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, who was mentioned in Justin Welby’s speech.

Mr McDonnell said: “The Archbishop of Canterbury has set out a bold vision for a different society, one without the evils of the gig economy, the exploitation of workers and tax dodging of the multinationals.

“I welcome his speech, and the growing movement against the failures of austerity and neoliberalism. Labour will end zero hours contracts, clamp down on the tax avoiders, and ensure everyone has access to sick pay, parental leave and protections at work.”

But – oh dear – just look at the hypocrisy from the Conservative Party.

Days after Tories supported former Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks in his highly-political attack on the Labour Party over the anti-Semitism row that has been fabricated against it, they were lining up to condemn the Archbishop for what they said was interference in politics.

Tory MP Ben Bradley tweeted: ‘Not clear to me when or how it can possibly be appropriate for the Archbishop of Canterbury to be appearing at TUC conference or parroting Labour policy.’

He added: ‘There are a diversity of views as to what is best for the economy, but [he] only seems interested in presenting John McDonnell’s point of view.’

Mr Bradley is, of course, famous for tweeting a lie about Jeremy Corbyn that resulted in the most-publicised apology ever to appear on Twitter.

Of course there was no way the hypocrisy would go unnoticed. This is just one example of the responses:

And the Archbishop? He said in his speech that he would make no apology for discussing politics. “The Bible is political from one end to the other,” he said.

His intervention is to be welcomed.

The Church of England is often seen as a haven for Conservatives and it will be interesting to see what happens to those Tories’ attitudes, considering this new direction from the pulpit.

Visit our JustGiving page to help Vox Political’s Mike Sivier fight anti-Semitism libels in court


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Cameron’s ‘incoherent’ response to IS hides a plan for another war

Laughing at the law-abiding: IS militants at a captured checkpoint in northern Iraq [Image: AFP/Getty].

Laughing at the law-abiding: IS militants at a captured checkpoint in northern Iraq [Image: AFP/Getty].

David Cameron has no strategy to protect Christians who are threatened by violent religious groups like IS, and his policy is determined by the “loudest media voice”, according to the Church of England.

There’s no arguing with it. A letter from the Bishop of Leeds, Nicholas Baines, endorsed by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, points out that Cameron’s UK has turned its back on the suffering of tens of thousands of Christians fleeing IS jihadists in Mosul, Iraq’s second city, while the government responded promptly to reports of Yazidis trapped on Mt Sinjar.

The letter also condemns Cameron’s failure to offer sanctuary to Iraqi Christians who have been driven from their homes, when the French and Germans have already done so. Parliamentary questions tabled last month to find out whether the UK intends to offer asylum to Iraqi Christians have lain unanswered. Perhaps this is a political decision as Cameron thinks more foreigners coming here will push up support for UKIP; if so, that would support the Church’s view that he is reacting to the media, rather than following his own policy.

In fact, Cameron’s approach is becoming clearer. He wants to involve us in another war.

But, burned by his defeat in Parliament last year over Syria, he is taking a ‘softly, softly’ approach.

Having sent humanitarian aid to Iraq, he wrote in today’s Sunday Telegraph that this was not enough.

“He warns that Britain will have to use its ‘military prowess’ to help defeat ‘this exceptionally dangerous’ movement, or else terrorists with ‘murderous intent’ will target people in Britain,” the Telegraph report states.

Didn’t Tony Blair also use the possibility of a threat to the UK to cajole Britain into supporting the last round of wars in the Middle East? The antagonist may change but it seems the script does not.

In fact it is true that something must be done about IS. A lawless gang of murderers is setting up a lawless state in parts of Iraq and Syria that have been weakened by wars we either fought or did nothing to prevent – and fears that they could radicalise gullible Brits and send them home to carry out terrorist acts on our soil are real.

What is needed is a co-ordinated response from all law-abiding powers – not just in the west but Middle-Eastern countries and others. IS is the political equivalent of a rabid animal; its members don’t care who they attack, as long as they cause maximum harm, and every country in the world should be aware of this.

Cameron potters around the edges instead, following the same plan the UK always uses.

We could have sorted out these problems before withdrawing from Iraq a few years ago. We could have done it in the 1990s, after the first Gulf War. We could have sorted them out at any time before then – and with greater ease, but that does not suit a western industrial complex that is geared towards perpetuating warfare.

Cameron’s attitude is media-driven. His defeat over Syria has led him to revise his strategy, waiting for public opinion to be swayed by media reports of the bloodshed taking place abroad, stoked by fears that it could happen here in Blighty. When the public is supportive again, he can announce action – but only just enough action to keep the Middle Eastern countries at odds with each other, making further military conflicts inevitable.

Today, it seems he has decided he can act, if comments like “we need a firm security response, whether that is military action to go after the terrorists, international co-operation on intelligence and counter-terrorism or uncompromising action against terrorists at home” are to be believed.

Cameron also wrote that this is a “struggle against a poisonous and extremist ideology, which I believe we will be fighting for the rest of my political lifetime.”

His political lifetime will end in May 2015, so he’s right about that.

It seems his evil strategy for the Middle East will continue to affect the region long after the end of his physical lifetime, too.

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‘It is cheaper to help people die rather than support them to live’

Lord Carey: He may be demonstrating the amount of thought he has given to what unscrupulous people will do with his "change of heart".

Lord Carey: He may be demonstrating the amount of thought he has given to what unscrupulous people will do with his “change of heart”.

A “change of heart” by a former Archbishop of Canterbury over ‘assisted dying’ has dismayed at least one campaigner for the rights of people with disabilities.

Mo Stewart has been researching and reporting what she describes as the “atrocities” against the chronically sick and disabled in the UK for the last four years. She said Lord Carey’s decision to support legislation that would make it legal for people in England and Wales to receive help to end their lives would “play right into the hands of this very, very dangerous government”.

Justifying his change of position, Lord Carey said: “Today we face a central paradox. In strictly observing the sanctity of life, the Church could now actually be promoting anguish and pain, the very opposite of a Christian message of hope.

“The old philosophical certainties have collapsed in the face of the reality of needless suffering.”

The Assisted Dying Bill, tabled by Labour’s Lord Falconer, would apply to people with less than six months to live. Two doctors would have to independently confirm the patient was terminally ill and had reached their own, informed decision to die.

But Mo Stewart warned that the proposed legislation, to be debated in the House of Lords on Friday, would be subject to ‘function creep’, with unscrupulous authorities taking advantage of people with depression in order to relieve themselves of the financial burden of paying for their care.

“If this law is granted, what will be deemed a possibility for the few will, very quickly I fear, become the expected for the many,” she wrote in a letter to Lord Carey which she has kindly provided to Vox Political.

“It’s cheaper to help people to die rather than support them to live.

“There is a catalogue of evidence demonstrating that, in those countries where assisted dying is permitted, very often those taking their own lives are suffering from a clinical depression and leave our world to resist the perception that they are a burden to loved ones.

“I am stunned that you would use your voice to try to permit this to happen in the UK.”

She pointed out that medicine is an inexact science and policy changes such as this could have an enormous detrimental impact: “My own webmaster, who is now desperately ill with possibly only weeks to live, was advised he had less than six months to live over four years ago.

“Until very recently, he still enjoyed a high quality of life with his wife, family and friends; a life that could have been removed four years ago” had the Assisted Dying Bill been law at that time.

“What this debate is demonstrating is the failure of guaranteed high quality palliative care in the UK, that makes those with a life-limiting diagnosis feel that self termination is a reasonable solution,” she warned.

“If palliative care was at the peak of quality and access then there would be no need to ever consider such a Bill for this country, as those who wish to access self termination are usually living in fear of the possible physical suffering they may need to endure. This is a highway to clinical depression when quality of life is deemed to have disappeared with diagnosis.”

The current Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has described the Bill as “mistaken and dangerous” and Mo said she believed he had explained the dangers well.

He said: “This is not scaremongering. I know of health professionals who are already concerned by the ways in which their clients have suggestions ‘to go to Switzerland’ whispered in their ears by relatives weary of caring for them and exasperated by seeing their inheritances dwindle through care costs.

“I have received letters from both disabled individuals and their carers, deeply concerned by the pressure that Lord Falconer’s bill could put them under if it became law.”

Mo Stewart’s letter concludes: “In the real world, this Bill – if passed – would, I have no doubt, lead to abuses where some were actively persuaded to self terminate for the convenience, and possibly the inheritance, of others.

“It’s really not a very long way away from an assisted dying bill to an assisted suicide bill.”

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Church v (Secretary-in-a-) State over social ‘reform’

Cardinal-designate Vincent Nichols, who has attacked fellow Catholic Iain Duncan Smith's benefit cuts as a "disgrace". [Image: Liverpool Echo]

Cardinal-designate Vincent Nichols, who has attacked fellow Catholic Iain Duncan Smith’s benefit cuts as a “disgrace”. [Image: Liverpool Echo]

Does anybody else have the feeling that Vincent Nichols, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, was only waiting for the Pope to name him a Cardinal-designate before sinking his teeth into the UK’s Conservative-led Coalition government?

One gets the impression he feels secure that the new position means his words now carry sufficient weight – and they are weighty words indeed.

“People do understand that we do need to tighten our belts and be much more responsible and careful in public expenditure,” said the Archbishop to the Telegraph.

“But I think what is happening is two things: one is that the basic safety net that was there to guarantee that people would not be left in hunger or in destitution has actually been torn apart.

“It no longer exists and that is a real, real dramatic crisis.

“And the second is that, in this context, the administration of social assistance, I am told, has become more and more punitive.

“So if applicants don’t get it right then they have to wait for 10 days, for two weeks with nothing – with nothing.

“For a country of our affluence, that quite frankly is a disgrace.”

“Hunger”, “destitution”, “crisis” – “a disgrace”. You cannot accuse this man of mincing his words!

They come almost a year after the (Anglican) Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby, together with the Archbishop of York and 43 bishops, launched their own attack on changes to social security, saying they would have a “deeply disproportionate” effect on children and families.

Mr Welby had himself only recently taken the Church of England’s most senior office.

Speaking to the Telegraph on March 9 last year, 12 days before his enthronement, he said: “As a civilised society, we have a duty to support those among us who are vulnerable and in need. When times are hard, that duty should be felt more than ever, not disappear or diminish.

“It is essential that we have a welfare system that responds to need and recognises the rising costs of food, fuel and housing.

“These changes will mean it is children and families who will pay the price … rather than the Government.”

The Department for Work and Pensions laughed off Mr Welby’s concerns.

But Iain Duncan Smith, the Secretary of (or “in a”) State for Work and Pensions, is – or is at least supposed to be – a devout Catholic. How could he ignore such harsh criticism from the most senior member of his Church in the United Kingdom?

Very easily, it seems.

Iain Duncan Smith has not deigned to respond. Perhaps he has a belief – he does seem to rely on them a lot, now, doesn’t he? – that he is doing more for the people of this country than the Archbishops. There’s a word for this condition that’s slipping my mind for a moment… no – I’ve got it.

A ‘Messiah’ complex – a state of mind in which an individual holds a belief that they are, or are destined to become, a saviour.

‘Messiah’ trumps ‘Archbishop’ so IDS has chosen to ascend above the debate, leaving its resolution to his trusty DWP spokesperson, who came out with the usual lies.

“Our welfare reforms will transform the lives of some of the poorest families in our communities with Universal Credit making three million households better off and lifting hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty,” wittered the spokesperson.

To disprove these words, let’s turn to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the social policy research charity that seeks to understand the causes of social problems, identify ways of overcoming them, and show how social needs can be met. This organisation has stated – repeatedly – that Universal Credit in its current form will create “increased risks of budgeting problems, debt, arrears and ultimately financial exclusion”.

The same organisation quotes research from the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) which states that, under current Coalition government policies, rather than hundreds of thousands of children being lifted out of poverty, by 2020 more than one million more children will be in poverty than when the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats slithered into office by the back door in 2010.

So who do you believe? Come to that, what does Iain Duncan Smith really believe?

The DWP spokesperson said: “It’s wrong to talk of removing a safety net when we’re spending 94bn a year on working age benefits and the welfare system supports millions of people who are on low incomes or unemployed so they can meet their basic needs.”

But we know that Iain Duncan Smith has inflicted £28 billion of cuts on people receiving benefits from his Department for Work and Pensions. If another IFS statement – that this represents only two-fifths of the Coalition’s cuts plan – is accurate, then the total amount he’ll want to cut is a staggering £70 billion.

And he wants his people to talk about the money he’s spending, rather than the effect he’s having. So, what does he believe?

He believes in Mammon.

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‘May? Fox? Nobodies! Don’t forget my benefit cap will ruin workers’ pay claims’, says Smith*

Return of the savage: Iain Duncan Smith is using his benefit cap to claw back workers' rights. YOUR rights.

Return of the savage: Iain Duncan Smith is using his benefit cap to claw back workers’ rights. YOUR rights.

It’s as if they’re having a competition.

After Liam Fox, the disgraced former Defence Secretary with nothing at all to gain from his outburst, made a fool of himself by making a series of outrageous demands about government spending (the BBC website picks out “We need to begin a systematic dismantling of universal benefits and turning them into tax cuts”), Iain Duncan Smith stepped into the breach to “dismiss” the Archbishop of Canterbury’s warning – despite its firm basis in fact – that benefit changes will drive more children into poverty.

Clearly the man this blog refuses to call anything but Smith is getting worried that he might fail to retain Vox Political‘s coveted Monster of the Year award in the face of such strong competition – don’t forget Theresa May weighed in with a plan to strip everyone in this country of their hard-won human rights – that he felt it necessary to step up.

We’ll put the rabid Fox down first. Vox correspondent Big Bill called it right when he said Fox was already damaged goods.

“He can be sent out to air these ideas without any further potential loss to the party,” Bill wrote.

“If Cameron started airing them or Osborne, there’d potentially be loss to their status, I imagine Tory thinking has it, and they’re too valuable to waste but Fox is already a political phantom, no more than the fading echo of a career mournfully walking abroad at Westminster.

“If more opprobrium’s heaped on his head, well, then, the party’s learned those ideas won’t fly and no loss to anyone. If by any chance they start to be taken seriously then these ideas will indeed be taken up by Osborne and Cameron.”

Judging from the comedy Prime Minister’s response, the ideas didn’t fly at all and in fact went down like the R101.

But let’s not waste the opportunity to pour scorn on Cameron’s comments. Having already fallen foul of the facts in the past, he simply couldn’t resist the opportunity to show that he hasn’t learnt anything and loves the taste of his own shoes.

“There is one piece of advice I won’t take. That’s the piece of advice saying ‘You ought to cut the National Health Service budget’,” said the PM, past the foot he’d just wedged in his mouth.

How quick he was to forget that Andrew Dilnot, head of the UK Statistics Authority, wrote to caution the government that its claims of increased spending on the health service, year on year, during every year of the current Parliament, were inaccurate. Mr Dilnot stated that the figures show a real-terms cut in expenditure between the 2009-10 tax year when Labour was in power, and 2011-12.

Camoron has never acknowledged this fact, even though it comes from an authoritative source. Maybe he’s no longer capable of listening to anything but the voices in his head.

He continued, saying it was “absolutely right that we have got a plan to get on top of our deficit”. Nice one, Call-Me-Dave. It is indeed, absolutely correct that you have a plan to get on top of the deficit. It’s also absolutely right that your plan does not work; will never work; will in fact make the deficit worse. It’s a plan to give you an excuse to shrink the state.

In that sense, Cameron’s difference of opinion with Fox is a sham. Perhaps he’s using Fox’s words to make his own scheming seem less objectionable.

Too bad. After nearly three years of this red-faced buffoon we can all see through him like a fishnet negligee.

And now, let’s turn to another Tory who won’t listen to anything but the voices in his head – Iain Pretentious Smith.

He has responded to calls from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, along with no less than 43 other Anglican Bishops, to reconsider benefit changes that will push an estimated 200,000 children into poverty. These are figures from The Children’s Society, which is a charity that deals with issues affecting deprived children every single day of its existence and should therefore, reasonably, know.

The letter states that the decision to increase financial support for families by no more than one per cent per year for the next three years, regardless of the rate of inflation, “will have a deeply disproportionate impact on families with children, pushing 200,000 children into poverty. A third of all households will be affected by the Bill, but nearly nine out of 10 families with children will be hit.

“These are children and families from all walks of life. The Children’s Society calculates that a single parent with two children, working on an average wage as a nurse would lose £424 a year by 2015. A couple with three children and one earner, on an average wage as a corporal in the British Army, would lose £552 a year by 2015.

“However, the change will hit the poorest the hardest. About 60 per cent of the savings from the uprating cap will come from the poorest third of households. Only three per cent will come from the wealthiest third.”

Only three per cent from the wealthiest households? It seems we’ve discovered why this plan is so attractive to the Party of the Rich.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby – who has yet to be enthroned – added: “As a civilised society, we have a duty to support those among us who are vulnerable and in need. When times are hard, that duty should be felt more than ever, not disappear or diminish.

It is essential that we have a welfare system that responds to need and recognises the rising costs of food, fuel and housing.” (Labour Party – and especially Liam Byrne – please note).

It was pleasing to see these words from the new Archbishop, who is clearly unafraid to enter political debates, despite the undue flack received by the former Archbishop, Dr Rowan Williams. The Church should speak up to protect those in society whose voice is not strong.

Of course Smith – a Catholic whose behaviour should have had him excommunicated from his own faith – was having none of it.

“I don’t agree that the way to get children out of poverty is to simply keep transferring more and more money to keep them out of work,” he said, possibly revealing a little more than he intended. It seems Mr Smith thinks that, rather than receiving benefits to support them, poor children should be sent out to work. Is he advocating a return to the despicable conditions of the 19th century, in which children were sent up chimneys to clean them?

Don’t put it past him – look what else he had to say!

He said this: “We are doing the right thing in bringing in the benefit cap. For the first time ever, people on low and average earnings will realise at last that those on benefits will not be able to be paid more in taxes than they themselves earn.”

Exactly. Those on low and average earnings will realise that, if they get the sack, they will not be able to cover their current outgoings, meagre though they may be.

The intention behind the benefit cap is – as Vox Political has stated in the past – to silence those on the lowest wages from seeking any improvement in their pay and conditions, and even stop them from complaining if their bosses decide to cut those things.

It is a wholesale – and despicable – betrayal of the vast majority of the British people.

Don’t you forget it.

*He might as well be saying that; it’s what his statements indicate.