Under the Tory-led Coalition in Britain, the poor are crushed and slandered. This has raised concerns and protests from the Church’s top clergy. These deep concerns are simply a warning to the ruling class of the dangerous path they are treading by ruthlessly pursuing austerity.
“You’ll have pie in the sky when you die” (Joe Hill)
“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God”, states the Gospel of Luke. But in Tory-Liberal Britain, the poor are crushed and slandered.
This has raised concerns and protests from the Church’s top clergy. From ringing their bells they have turned to wringing their hands. Last weekend, Vincent Nichols, the Catholic Archbishop of Westminster warned that the government’s welfare cuts (“reforms” in Orwellian speak) were creating destitution and that the “basic safety net” ensuring people would not go hungry was being “torn apart”. Such changes, he said, are “a disgrace” in a country of such affluence.
Now a letter from Anglican bishops, Methodist clergy and Quaker representatives has appeared in the Daily Mirror, criticising the government’s welfare cuts for creating a “national crisis” of hunger and poverty. Our religious tops have warned that in the last nine months, half a million people have been forced to visit food banks. More than half of these people had been put at risk by “cut backs to, and failures in, the benefit system, whether it be payment delays or punitive sanctions.” In addition, 5,500 people were admitted to hospital in Britain for malnutrition last year.
As to be expected, Conservative Party Christians have spoken out against the interventions of their spiritual leaders. The Mother Teresa of the Tory Party, Ann Widdecombe (also the former Tory shadow home secretary), accused the bishops of a “knee-jerk reaction” with a political flavour. “This is pretty predictable – any time any government reins in on welfare, the Church gets very, very worried.”
She went on to say that she didn’t see why anyone needed to use food banks, given that Britain had a social security system. “You have to ask what they are spending their benefits money on instead?” she said.
This is the modern equivalent of “Let them eat cake!” What contempt from the mouth of a privileged moralising Tory brat!
The Church hierarch is very worried and it should be. The social fabric of British society is coming apart at the seams. The deep concerns of the Holy Rollers are simply a warning to the ruling class of the dangerous path they are treading as a result of the ruthless way they are pursuing austerity. They are pointing to the deep distress being caused by the cuts in benefits to the poorest in society and the social consequences. The draconian way the benefit rules are applied and the severe penalties used against claimants is causing widespread concern. People with terminal cancer or other serious illness have been denied disability benefits as a result of assessments that deem them fit for work.
The class morality preached by our religious worthies is an attempt to soothe the brutality of capitalist crisis. Have pity, they say. But the Church is part of the Establishment, whose aim is to morally justify the existence of wage slavery and exploitation. However, they warn about the “excesses” which threaten the very system they defend.
Their intervention is not intended as a criticism of capitalism and all its consequences, but how best the ruling class can soap the rope. We have to accept our lot in life, they say. As the Bible says, the poor will always be with us. Under capitalism, this is definitely the case. We therefore need to be patient and wait for the better life after we die. But as Joe Hill wrote: “You’ll have pie in the sky when you die – it’s a lie!”
There is only one solution: the overthrow of capitalism and the establishment of socialism. Only then can the resources of society be used for the benefit of all and not a tiny handful of sinking-rich parasites and their hangers on.