I said in the previous post that there were a couple of things from Synod I wanted to pick at a bit more. Here is the second one. A week on, I am still annoyed about that BNP motion. I wrote about it at some length here and here, so won't re-hash any of that now, but some of what happened is still bugging me. Of course, I am annoyed that my own amendment went down - it's always nice to win an argument - but what really annoys me is the fact that Norman Russell's also went down. I can't help but come to the conclusion that we have damaged our credibility by passing the motion as proposed, as it makes it quite clear that we take our moral lead in these matters from ACPO. I am sure ACPO is a splendid organisation, and that its moral sense is profound, but given that we are a Church we really ought to be able to come up with our own moral viewpoint - based on the Bible, perhaps - and not rely on someone else to do it for us.
I also remain concerned that passing this motion represents an abrogation of responsibility. Again, I've banged on about this already, so won't keep on about it. Of similar concern is the fact that whatever the Bishops come up with will almost certainly be unenforceable in law. Not only will we be encouraged to look to other people for solutions, but the legalistic solutions they are liable to present are not going to work.
There's another thing, though, that goes a little deeper than last week's motion. Do you remember Jorg Haider, and all the fuss surrounding his Freedom Party's becoming part of Austria's Coalition Government in 2000? All those cries of horror from the political chattering classes about how Something Should Be Done. It's exactly the same when the BNP win a Council seat in this country. Everybody is up in arms, everybody wants to ban those nasty people from being politicians at all, and everybody misses the point. If you ban them, you martyr them and they win. If you get into a terrible flap and shout that something should be done to protect our democratic institutions from these proto-Nazis, then you suggest that our democratic institutions are insufficient and in so doing you inflate their mediocre success out of all proportion, turn them into a threat and then they win. People elect them because their arguments appeal. How do you beat them? You argue against them, you attack their policies, you come up with alternatives that work. You engage with them as you would engage with any political opponent and you beat them at a local grassroots level. The recent by-election in Tameside shows the sort of thing we ought to be doing. This wasn't a Church-wide policy initiative, it was local people joining together to do what they knew was right, and you won't get that from a House of Bishops Report.
Opinion – 18 September 2021
1 day ago