Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Cardinal O'Brien - a "systematic and unrelenting attack on family values".

The Roman Catholic Church in Scotland has accused the Labour government of conducting a "systematic and unrelenting attack on family values". The attack came as Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy, a practising Catholic, claimed religious faith has a role in British politics. Mr Murphy said in a lecture that Labour best represents people of faith.

I had to read the above several times before moving on. Murphy cannot possibly believe this can he? Before anyone sees this as a right wing endorsement, I'm no fan of any party, Thatcherite laisez faire capitalism has been hugely damaging and laid the foundations for our current financial crisis

But Scotland's most senior Roman Catholic accused the government of "undermining religious freedom". And a spokesman for the Scottish National Party said Mr Murphy was guilty of "crude electioneering" by trying to "corner the market regarding people's faith".

Albeit Mr Salmond has done a fair bit of wooing the Catholic vote saying nice things about Catholic schools, but SNP voting on issues such as abortion is as bad as the rest.

A tangible example by the government over the last decade that it acknowledged or endorsed religious values would also have been welcomed. Mr Murphy focused on the key part "values voters" can play in the election when he delivered the Progress lecture in London on Tuesday evening. He argued that faith values have always been "at the very foundations of the Labour Party".

I went to some trouble to go home to try and get Forsyth out (an arch Thatcherite) in the days when Labour had a concern for social justice and society. Those days are long gone and even hardcore Labour supporters here are finally realising this.

In his lecture, the Scottish secretary said: "In the US, faith has long played a central part in politics. Not surprising for a country where 60% of people say that God plays an important part in their lives. "But it's wrong to think that it plays no role in British politics." The MP for East Renfrewshire added: "Faith voters massively outweigh 'Motorway Men' or 'Worcester Woman' or any other trendy demographic group identified by marketeers."

'Firm foundations'

He also told the audience that like faith, the family was "another force for good" and "the most important thing in our country".

Why aren't your party supporting it then?

The minister added: "As well as providing a supportive intellectual environment, it's a potential source of financial support in difficult days."

Supportive intellectual environment, the intellectual bit is the most important is it? True colours shown, like the Thatcherites before them, it's money that counts.

His comments were in contrast to the stated attitude of former Labour communications chief Alastair Campbell. Despite former prime minister Tony Blair's strong religious faith, Campbell famously said: "We don't do God". Mr Blair himself said he had avoided talking about his religious views while in office for fear of being labelled "a nutter".Jim Murphy said religion was at the "very foundations" of the Labour party. Cardinal Keith O'Brien, the leader of the Roman Catholic church in Scotland, welcomed Mr Murphy's "recognition of the role played by faith and religion in society".

But he added: "A tangible example by the government over the last decade that it acknowledged or endorsed religious values would also have been welcomed.

There aren't any.

"Instead we have witnessed this government undertake a systematic and unrelenting attack on family values. This is a charge I personally put to Gordon Brown when we met in 2008 and I have seen no evidence since then to suggest anything has changed."

English Bishops take note....

Ironically, Mr Murphy had been due to mention the Cardinal by name in his speech by saying: "When the Cardinal speaks, people listen."

Conservative leader David Cameron recently spoke of the importance of his Christian faith, while acknowledging that it grew "hotter and colder by moments". He said he did not have a "direct line" to God and did not pray for guidance from the almighty. Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has said he did not believe in God. However, he later added he had "enormous respect for people who have religious faith", that his wife is Catholic and that his children are being brought up Catholic.

Faith voters

A spokesman for Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond said: "Politicians are fully entitled to declare their personal testament, as the first minister has done and indeed would encourage others to do so. "However, it is quite a different matter to make any suggestion that a political party should seek to corner the market regarding people's faith."To do so would be absurd, unreal, and bear the hallmarks of crude electioneering, which would backfire rather badly. "The reality is that people of all faiths and none support the different parties in Scotland, and that forms part of the vibrant political system we have."

Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, said: "Jim Murphy is taking the Labour Party into dangerous territory when he calls on it to make a special play for the religious vote.

It wouldn't be a BBC article without Terry. Who was that dreadful Rabbi on BBC with Ed Balls this morning?

"His personal religious enthusiasm may be blinding him to the facts. It is no longer the case that clerics can dictate the way their congregations vote.

Until very recently most of their congregation could not vote. Now most of them cannot be bothered, see no choice or see the governements like this one ram through legislation most of the electorate do not agree with.

People are too independent-minded now to be herded into the voting booth by religious considerations alone."

Oh give me a break...