What have Suzanne Moore, Geiko Muller-Fahrenholz and John Walton got in common? Very little you might think, but the three of them caught hold of my fractured mind this morning.
Moore writes regularly for The Guardian and this morning she – like so many others at the moment–is giving advice to the Labour leader, Ed Milliband, who was pelted with eggs when he was doing a walk-about in London yesterday, poor man. It was this phrase that caught hold of me – ‘A state is more than a safety net, it can be an expression of our need to care for each other’. That philosophical and moral view is absent from the present Coalition government. People have ceased to re regarded as fellow citizens, but are constantly referred to as ‘tax-payers.’
Jurgen Moltmann, is a theologian famous for his belief in hope; a forward rather than a backward view of the Christian story. I have been re-reading Muller-Fahrenholz’s book on his theology. He writes ‘Whereas in the 1960’s the dispute was about ‘society’, now ‘I’ is there.
The individual desire for Happiness has taken the place of an interest in social justice. Faith in the possibility of improving conditions seems to have given place to a nameless cynicism. The motto now is ‘I want everything, and I want it now’. He ends this particular chapter with a powerful phrase –‘where the future becomes hopeless, the present becomes merciless’.
John Walton had a letter in yesterday’s Guardian in which he proposed an imaginary manifesto for the Labour party which has prompted several letters supporting him in today’s edition. He suggests the repeal of all N.H.S. legislation which has commercialised our health service, taking the railways back into public ownership, the introduction of the living wage, the abandonment of Trident, the end of fracking, the removal of private interests influencing government, and more besides.
Much of it is visionary and unlikely to be accepted beyond the pages of the paper.
There is little sign that the present Labour leadership has many radical intentions, except perhaps in the case of the N.H.S. Otherwise they seem to be merely responding to the government’s priorities instead of striking out on their own. And yet they are receiving a lot of policy advice such as this just now, which is good. Citizens’ advice.