Monday, July 07, 2008

The church and the poor

This from the Spectator today, (via Politics Home) on Ian Duncan Smith and David Cameron speaking at Catholic venues in Glasgow, and how that relates to the notorious sectarianism of that city. A timely reminder that the local church is the hope of the world.

For the record, I believe IDS and Cameron are acting in an explicitly post-sectarian spirit. Political behaviour in a sectarian age means avoiding churches, leery of alienating one group or another. Through his charity work in Easterhouse, IDS knows this area better than almost anyone else in Westminster. His approach is that, if one wishes to salute the most hardworking institutions fighting against poverty, then the churches would be your first port of call. It’s hard to overstate just what an amazing job churches do there – the Church of Scotland’s welfare division is extraordinary. Politicians may argue (as Jo Moore, Labour’s ex-special adviser, once did) that there are “no votes in the poor” so they give up on Glasgow East or take Gordon Brown’s “let them eat tax credits” approach. But the churches step in where everyone else runs away.

Deplorably, church groups and other grass root charities are in Glasgow often confronted by government agencies jealous of their monopoly control over the lives of the poor (see Neal Ascherson for more). The churches, here, are Burke’s little platoons – and IDS and Cameron have come to pay homage. Sectarianism may still be bad in Glasgow East, but the poverty is far, far worse.

"when you did it for the least of these, you did it for me" (Jesus)


  1. Aye - the churches have been doing great things in communities such as Glasgow East. I guess that one of the reasons is that they are there. The continuing presence of churches demonstrating the love of Jesus for all is a powerful witnesss - and puts me to shame, along with politicians who are occasional visitors when there's an election in the offing. And without being partisan, I admire IDS for his sustained interest in Easterhouse.

  2. I first voted in 1987, having seen my home town (Sheffield) decimated by Thatcherism, and vowed I'd never vote Conservative. How things change - with IDS and others, the Conservatives actually seem to have a better grip on what makes for a healthy society than Labour.