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Why bishops shouldn’t stay out of politics Christianity is not just a narrow little hobby for the soul, but a vision of the whole world

The Bishop of London at the funeral of Lady Thatcher. Photo: Christopher Furlong/AFP via Getty Images

The Bishop of London at the funeral of Lady Thatcher. Photo: Christopher Furlong/AFP via Getty Images


October 22, 2020   6 mins

In 1096, after William the Conqueror had successfully invaded England, he moved against the north and the incumbent bishops. “And so the English groaned aloud for their lost liberty,” wrote the medieval chronicler and Benedictine monk Orderic Vitalis: “and plotted ceaselessly to find some way of shaking off a yoke that was so intolerable and unaccustomed”.

For centuries, right up until the time of the Stuarts, the “Norman yoke” became a byword for the heteronomous imposition of power, the earliest expression of what we might now call Euroscepticism. For both radicals and conservatives alike, the “Harrying of the North” and the ousting of bishops amounted to a destruction of the established order. So Boris beware — history may not repeat, but it rhymes. And a conservative ought to be more alert to the dangers of the present moment.

I discovered relatively late in life that I am a natural conservative. As someone who grew up under Margaret Thatcher, I now forgive my younger self for never having spotted that. Thatcher wasn’t a conservative at all, she was a free market liberal who would shove aside all that stood in the way of market forces. No wonder I was confused.

I suppose natural conservatives gave her a break because, in the age of the Cold War, anyone who resisted communism with her vim and vigour was requisitioned to the cause. But nonetheless, she sailed under false colours. And so, growing up under Thatcher, I thought conservatism meant a kind of fundamentalist commitment to market forces; that the market was right, come what may. And I hated it. I hated the way Conservatives seemed to believe that humanity existed to serve the market, not the market to service the needs of humanity. I hated the destruction of traditional communities — mining communities, especially — that was taken to be the inevitable by-product of economic progress. I hated the reduction of every moral issue to the question of money, as if that were the only significant unit of moral exchange.

But Thatcher was as much a (small-c) conservative as Labour is now the party of working people. These titles are a relic of the past, just as a company called the Carphone Warehouse continues to sell mobile phones to people who not only have no idea what a car phone looks like, but have also never even considered it odd that the company name was so ill-matched to its product.

Conservatives are supposed to conserve. And this because it is at the heart of conservative belief that the cheap and wanton destruction of the established order is both easy to achieve and often impossible to recover from (see 1069). Progressives believe that things getting better is somehow built into the nature of things, that human existence is on an ever upward curve towards the sunny uplands of justice and social harmony.

I have a much darker view of human nature and a more fearful view of what social progress means — the “slaughter bench of history at which the happiness of peoples, the wisdom of States, and the virtue of individuals have been victimised”, as Hegel put it. That’s why I am prepared to put up with what works, even if it is a bit clunky, even if it is not how one would design things if one was starting with a blank slate: the monarchy, the establishment of the Church of England, our system of common law. The idea of the blank slate, starting afresh, year zero, these are all ideas more suited to the French Revolution than the oldest functioning democracy in the world: 1789, another date that is written on the conservative heart in ignominy.

That’s why I don’t expect Conservatives like Steve Baker MP to be touting the disestablishment of the Church of England whenever an archbishop says something that irritates them. Like Mr Baker, I passionately believe in Brexit and, unlike most of the bishops, believe that domestic law, established at the ballot box, should trump international law — a law not directly answerable to people ticking their little boxes.

But the whole purpose of having bishops in the legislature is that they say what they believe, and their anxiety that the way Brexit is being pursued places peace in Northern Ireland at risk is hardly something on which they should be expected to remain silent.

I have changed my mind on the establishment of the Church of England. My worry was never so much that it was an unacceptable privilege, but rather that it encouraged the Church to become the courtiers of the political order, grovelling at the feet of real secular power as the Church so often has over the centuries. And so I used to believe that, released from the shackles of establishment, the Church would be free to preach the good news of the gospel without fear or favour.

It was the former Chief Rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, who changed my mind on all of this. He argues, passionately, that it is all of Britain’s faith communities that benefit from the Church of England hosting all believers at the heart of our national life. This presence enables the introduction of a quite different register of concerns directly into the public square, the presence of those who think in terms of the eternal, the numinous and the transcendent. At times, this register of concerns jars with the more day-to-day management of our national life, and so it should. It is a reminder that there exists, for many of us at least, and for the greater part of our history, a story of what human life is all about that raises its head above the utilitarian and the pragmatic.

This also is why the bishops in the House of Lords have to be extra careful not to channel their personal views about party politics. Jonathan Sacks believes there is a sacrificial aspect to the Church of England’s presence within the establishment: that it is obliged to express itself with greater care, even to the point of holding back when it comes to expressing private convictions on matters of public policy.

And here there may be something of a problem, for the bishops of the Church of England have gained for themselves a reputation that they are implacably opposed to Brexit on the grounds that it offends their liberal — as distinct from Christian — consciences. My own view is that the Archbishop, in addressing the very specific concern about how the present Brexit Bill will impact peace in Northern Ireland, is expressing a perfectly legitimate concern. Since when, Mr Baker, has peace been beyond the remit of the Church?

The accusation that bishops should stay out of politics is frankly ridiculous. Christianity is not just a narrow little hobby for the soul, but a vision of the whole world, every part of it, transformed by the love and presence of God. But that said, it is nonetheless also still true that the present Church seems to find it ever easier to present itself in wholly secular terms. A report out last week calculated the value of our Church communities as contributing ÂŁ12 billion to the economy.

I groaned aloud when I read that. To believers, the value of the Church is literally priceless, both without price and of more value that money could ever describe. The reduction of what we do to pounds sterling is to collapse all value into a single register — and that is precisely what the Church must stand to resist. Human beings are of infinite value because they are made in the image and likeness of God.

Mrs Thatcher, of course, was a Methodist. Yet despite having had to listen to many of her father’s sermons in Grantham chapel, she was astonishing ignorant of Catholic Christianity (in the wider Roman Catholic and Anglican sense). Thatcher’s biographer, Charles Moore — himself a super-fan — told me in his Confessions chat that she didn’t even know that you needed water for a Baptism.

For her, Christianity was a kind of Samuel Smiles self-help philosophy of personal responsibility. That’s why she too thought it could be relegated to the private sphere, why she hated, for instance, the famous 1985 Faith in the City report. And politicians like Steve Baker are made squarely in that mould.

Mrs Thatcher’s funeral was held at St Paul’s Cathedral a couple of years after I resigned from my position there. They sang her favorite hymn, the same one they had sung at Churchill’s funeral on the same spot in 1965: “I Vow to Thee, My Country”, a hymn of two verses. The first expresses a love of place, the second the love of “another country I heard of long ago”, a country without borders or armies.

Some in the Church have regarded the first verse as heretical, expressing too unquestioningly a love of country. For me it is an expression of collective solidarity, a one-nation, all-in-it-together kind of philosophy that values all its subjects — yes, north and south. Others have a problem with the second verse, expressing the belief that even as a nation we sit under the ultimate authority of Almighty God. True conservatives find something to admire in both verses. And on this one at least, Mrs Thatcher and I are as one.


Giles Fraser is a journalist, broadcaster and Vicar of St Anne’s, Kew.

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Andrew Best
Andrew Best
3 years ago

Just another bunch of rich, establishment, correct thinking people telling the poor working classes they were, are and always will be wrong in voting to leave the EU.
another cheek of the bottom of the establishment, that’s why you are, will and always will be irrelevant in everyday people’s lives.
No thanks, more of the same

Alison Houston
Alison Houston
3 years ago

‘The Queen’s Majesty hath the chief power in this Realm of England, and her other Dominions, unto whom the chief government of all estates of this Realm, whether they be ecclesiastical or civil, in all causes doth appertain, and is not, nor ought to be, SUBJECT TO ANY FOREIGN JURISDICTION’ (my capitals)

That is article no. 37, of your contract of employment and that of the Bishops.

In stating that they believe ‘International Law’ should hold sway and trump the law of the land they are in breach of contract.

giancarlo sallier de la tour
giancarlo sallier de la tour
3 years ago
Reply to  Alison Houston

but the law of the land incorporates the respect of international law.

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
3 years ago

Respects it; but can change it. Or self determination is meaningless

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

‘The accusation that bishops should stay out of politics is frankly ridiculous.’

Perhaps, although it is arguable. But they should certainly stay out of the entirely crony-stuffed and illegitimate House of Lords. How any religious person can have anything to do with that grotesque and undemocratic monstrosity is beyond me.

Martin Price
Martin Price
3 years ago

“have gained for themselves a reputation that they are implacably opposed to Brexit on the grounds that it offends their LIBERAL – as distinct from CHRISTIAN – consciences” There you have identified the root of the problem. You could substitute Brexit with numerous other issues in the last 20 years. In doing so they have undermined their own authority in the eyes of the majority of British people.

Andrew McGee
Andrew McGee
3 years ago

So can I, as a strong atheist, have a say in the affairs of the Church? Or is it none of my business? How about a little of rendering unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s, which surely involves the Church staying out of politics and very definitely out of the legislature.

Jim
Jim
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew McGee

People misunderstand the ‘rendering unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s.’ Remember Jesus said it to the Pharisees and Herodians, who would know their scriptures. Certainly they would know psalm 24 which starts “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;”
He was pointing out that in reality, nothing is Caesar’s and that they as observant Jews should have known it.

johnmckenna538
johnmckenna538
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew McGee

Politics is to do with people as is Religion (that many more follow it in some form than not is a fact ) as is Anthropology Philosophy et al . So why should any of these now bow the knee to atheism and hide in the corner in self recrimination. Indeed if it wasn’t for God there wouldn’t be any atheists .

tiffeyekno
tiffeyekno
3 years ago
Reply to  johnmckenna538

As an atheist, I follow religion ‘in some form’. Precisely for reasons illustrated in this issue, why robed and mitred shepherds crook carrying non elected persons should have a say in the law to which I am subject. That any non elected person can lay down the law is in itself of interest to me. But John, you cant get away with ‘in some form’ to support the point you are clearly making. Where is this ‘fact’?

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew McGee

If you are part of the church, sure you can have a say in its affairs, much as the church folk are part of the country. There is law or regulation that says one must renounce citizenship if the person also church-going. As it is, no one renders to Caesar; Caesar takes what he likes, at the point of a gun, and too bad if you don’t like it.

giancarlo sallier de la tour
giancarlo sallier de la tour
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew McGee

Why? If you believe in God you know that God owns everything, Caesar included.

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
3 years ago

The Rev GF is always one of the best reads in UnHerd, but here he seems to have tripped up. Mrs T was a conservative, and what she wanted was to return the UK to a freer, more liberal society. That may seem like radicalism but most conservatives do have a vision of an “ideal” society (albeit that in their hearts they think it unachievable). But a conservative should try to get there – the “conservatives” who just want in effect to slow things down are not conservatives at all, they are just surrendering to the prevailing philosophy slowly.

Should the Bishops be thrown out of the House of Lords? No, they are not quite as pointless as many sitting there. Should the Lords be replaced by an independent and more democratic assembly? Yes. Should the Bishops be elected by the congregations of their churches? Yes indeed, now that really might do wonders for the despairing faithful!

Claire D
Claire D
3 years ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

I disagree, I think Giles Fraser is quite correct, Thatcher was a Neo-Liberal through and through.

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
3 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

We are not going to reach agreement on the lady. But may I suggest that anybody who wears hats of they type she favoured is no advertisement for radicalism (I am not sure what neo-liberalism is – a form of liberalism that argue people should be free perhaps, as opposed to C21st Liberalism which wishes to direct the poor and downtrodden in all their endeavours?)

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
3 years ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

Neo-liberal – hardline capitalism.

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
3 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

Mrs T had an old-fashioned British conservative side; and an Americanised neo-liberal side.

Claire D
Claire D
3 years ago
Reply to  Tony Buck

Fair enough.

Geoffrey Simon Hicking
Geoffrey Simon Hicking
3 years ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

“Should the Bishops be elected by the congregations of their churches?”

It would be funny to hear Nick Clegg fulminate against a chamber which is both traditional, yet more democratic than his party. The [democratically elected] Hereditaries could give the Lord Spiritual lessons in how to achieve this reform.

Warren Alexander
Warren Alexander
3 years ago

Just what this country needs at a time of crisis: A bunch of delusional godists with a lust for power telling us what to do

GA Woolley
GA Woolley
3 years ago

‘the way Brexit is being pursued places peace in Northern Ireland at risk is hardly something on which they should be expected to remain silent.’ Giles Fraser is surely having a laugh. It’s religion which is entirely the cause of the conflict in Ireland, as in many other places. It’s religion which promotes division, and then cements division in place with its dogmas and determination to protect and expand its powerbases and fiefdoms. The less influence religion has on anything the healthier it is.

Tony Nunn
Tony Nunn
3 years ago
Reply to  GA Woolley

Surely the cause of conflict in Northern Ireland is not religion but politics with religious labels. As I understand it, the RC and protestant churches there get on very well together.

Jos Haynes
Jos Haynes
3 years ago

I have no problem with bishops spouting their views on anything from the pulpit. But I do object to them spouting away and voting against legislation proposed by the elected chamber. Yes, i object to the existence of the House of Lords. It should be abolished. And anyone with any sensitivity would not use the HoL as a platform for their political views. I am not aware that God voted against Brexit, or indeed has said anything about international affairs & policies, so what gives these bishops (who hold their place only by virtue of their position at top of the CoE hierarchy) the right to try to cancel the votes of the populace?

I was Christened and believe in a Christian way of life (not diffcult since the church just hijacked pre-existing moral standards) but I am not a Christian. It’s all tosh. And for the voice of those in charge of promoting this tosh to be given greater importance than me in this supposedly democratic system is an insult. A plague on all the bishops. Oh that there were some goodly knights around ….

robert scheetz
robert scheetz
3 years ago
Reply to  Jos Haynes

If Brexit taught anything it was that bourgeois democracy doesn’t work. In this rare instance where the demes “defeated” the business class, May did everything in her power to effect nullification, the demes had to vote twice more, EU reps and then PM expressing the same popular will, and four years on it’s still not accomplished.

Giles Fraser is profoundly right on this matter; sadly moot as the vast number irrespective of class, are religious illiterates (cf all the childish conceptions elicited above) utterly incapable at symbolic writings. English culture is lost. And not just Wm. Tyndale, the greatest work in the English canon, but Shakespeare, Spenser, Milton, Donne, …T.S. Eliot, Geoffrey Hill, is lost to us.
Supplanted by The Almighty Commodity Fetish.

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
3 years ago
Reply to  Jos Haynes

So the Roman Empire believed in loving one’s neighbour as oneself ?

And forgiving one’s enemies ?

giancarlo sallier de la tour
giancarlo sallier de la tour
3 years ago

I had never thought of the EU as a modern version of the thugs accompanying William the Conqueror, but it is an interesting comparison! More to the point I agree that there is no message more political than the Christian one. Jesus spent his life holding political rallies, why shouldn’t his modern disciples not allowed to do the same?

johnmckenna538
johnmckenna538
3 years ago

The original meaning of political ( dictionary )was I believe and paraphrase ‘ to do with citizenship ‘ so yes Bishops should get involved with politics as the the New and Old Testaments is crammed with that pertaining to citizenship in all its forms especially rights , responsibilities , obligations and the like concerning mutual interdependence and that which in God’s eyes is deemed unworthy of the measure he sets ( sin actually only means to miss the mark or fall short of in its Greek origin) The other thing here is that Peter in the NT tells us Christians are aliens in this world , passing through,that their and his citizenship is that of heaven . So what’s the problem with C of E Bishops making political statements ? Nothing in itself actually . The problem is their statements rather than reflecting a higher truth usually just read as the headlines in the ‘Guardian ‘of any particular day on any particular issue .I know not when the Church that was once the Tory party at prayer ( it was said ) morphed into the Progressive Humanist Socialist Fraternity that defines the Church of the now . Could make a good book for any redundant researcher.

lesterfwilson8
lesterfwilson8
3 years ago

William the conqueror died in 1087.

Geoff Allen
Geoff Allen
3 years ago

Religion and Covid -two things we can all do without!

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
3 years ago
Reply to  Geoff Allen

Atheism and Covid – two things we can all do without.

Many of us can’t do without religion.

Though perhaps, Atheism is yours ?

namelsss me
namelsss me
3 years ago

Remarkable achievement by William the Conqueror (died 1087) to have deposed northern bishops and harried the north in 1096. Interesting that though the piece has been up for at least 14 hours none of UnHerd’s learned and passionate commenters have spotted that…

namelsss me
namelsss me
3 years ago
Reply to  namelsss me

or that none has spotted the error in the above post, already up for a minute.

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
3 years ago
Reply to  namelsss me

It was of course 1069, and you win 10 Saxon serfs and the County of Westmorland. The modern equivalent of such behaviour is I suppose the Harrying of Harry.

Martin Adams
Martin Adams
3 years ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

HeeHee! Nice one!

mathewhywelrees
mathewhywelrees
3 years ago

It’s exactly a century since the Church was disestablished in Wales and it’s not made a bit of difference.

Perhaps the C of E should focus their attention on investigating rampant paedophilia in their church, stop putting helter skelters in cathedrals and asking whether it’s morally acceptable to have an Archbishop of Canterbury who has made millions in the oil industry.

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
3 years ago

Calm down. It isn’t rampant, there was only one, and he didn’t

Martin Adams
Martin Adams
3 years ago

Rev. Fraser’s summary of Margaret Thatcher’s reaction to the Church of England’s Faith in the City report of 1985 is a thoughtful and probably accurate insight into her thinking. However, some criticisms that could be made of that report are glossed over, even though they are highly relevant to the interventionist argument he makes here.

The problem with Faith in the City was that it reflected a view of the relationship between the individual and the state that, from a Christian perspective, is not nearly as morally incontestable as the bishops seemed to think then, or seem to think now. The Chief Rabbi of the time, Immanuel Jacobovits nailed the core issue. A Jewish report, he said, would probably have placed more emphasis on building individual self-respect, on ambition and enterprise, on a strong work-ethic, and on various kinds of self-help. But none of that was at the expense of helping those who, for one reason or another, are unable to help themselves.

Equivalent arguments have been made by several contemporary Christian thinkers and politicians. A particularly distinguished example of the latter has been the former Labour MP for Birkenhead, Frank Field, whose proposals for reform of the UK’s welfare system were almost entirely congruent with Immanuel Jacobovits’s priorities. What happened to them? His fellow Labour politicians were unable to understand them ” which caused me to ponder on the words of the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 2:14,

The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

So the problem with the bishops getting involved with politics has not been the involvement in principle. It has been with what they say and how they say it. As Giles Fraser says, it is entirely right that they express concerns about the Internal Market Bill; but given their long record of reflecting one particular end of the UK’s political spectrum, it is almost inevitable that most listeners will interpret their pronouncements in that light ” even though such concerns can and have been expressed across the spectrum.

It can be argued that, much earlier than Faith in the City, the bishops’s public pronouncements have reflected the fashions of left-ish morality. But much more fundamental than that is the presupposition, seen everywhere in the bishops’s public pronouncements, that the state not only can be a benevolent parent, but that one of its main roles should be that of a primary carer, carrying responsibility for successes and failures at personal and group levels. It is unfortunate that the corrosive effect of these presuppositions is not identified in Rev. Fraser’s article. I suspect that this might be because he shares some of those presuppositions.

If the bishops had been willing fearlessly to speak in the name of Christian and biblical principles, rather than of generalised, quasi-liberal ethics, people might be willing to take them more seriously, within the House of Lords, in public forums, and in pronouncements from the House of Bishops. With a handful of honourable exceptions by individual bishops, when did we last hear serious Church of England opposition to the tide of “progressive” legislation that, over the last 30 years and more, has been passed by governments of all parties? If the public pronouncements emanating from Lambeth Palace were designed openly to express specifically Christian practices, unconcerned with worldly compromise and with what the general public thinks, that same general public might take them a bit more seriously, even if only via fury.

mdkeulemans43
mdkeulemans43
3 years ago

I quite see the point Giles makes

tomasz.piotrowski
tomasz.piotrowski
3 years ago

This is an entertaining but also confusing read. My issue with Giles’ blind allegiance to the nationalist Brexit is that he overlooks/doesn’t see that the catholicity/universalism of the Church embraces and values human cooperation that transcends national borders. You can be proud of your heritage, conservative, bold and progressive in enacting the open society (vs closed society) and happily remain in the European family of states, nations, regions and communities

Mark M
Mark M
3 years ago

At the very least, can we remove the charitable status from religions. There’s nothing charitable about what they do and some of their actions are downright uncharitable. And, as a non-religious person, I object to having to pay extra taxes to cover for these tax dodgers. Religious organisations that do a bit of charitable work can always continue without the religious side of it.

William Blake
William Blake
3 years ago

Since the C of E has become ever more secular in its pronouncements, increasingly unwilling to uphold the the truth of the Bible, and now only represents a very small number of the populace, it is no longer a National Church and has no right to question government policy. Disestablishment must follow, and soon. The sooner the better.

Claire D
Claire D
3 years ago

Great article, thank you Giles.
Margaret Thatcher’s whole raison d’etre was her snobbery, she loathed the working class as only someone desperate to seperate from them could.

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
3 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

This is splendidly spartist, a philosophy I had thought no longer with us. Far from loathing the working class, Mrs T was out to set the people free, and working people in particular. That is why she wanted decision making to be returned to individuals, by curtailing the powers of trade unions and paternalist Tories and socialists alike. And Bishops.

And for a while much progress was made, but now the forces of “we know best” are back. Time for another liberation of the people.

Claire D
Claire D
3 years ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

Not sure what “spartist” means but I cannot see how my comment is “philosophical”, as a psychological assessment of Thatcher I might be right or I might be wrong.
You have a point, but I would argue there is nuance to it, which is that she cared about the working class she approved of, those who were aspirational, behaved themselves and wanted what she wanted them to want, ie, to aspire to be middle class.
The other working class, who were proud of their heritage and their communities and themselves (they were never snobs about their own class) she did loathe them, they were anathema to her.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

‘spartest’ is a reference to Dave Spart, a caricature Commie as featured in Private Eye or something like that. The sort of guy who sells the Socialist Worker outside the tube station.

Claire D
Claire D
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Thank you.

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
3 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

You are obviously not an adherent of Private Eyes resident Stalino-Leninist-Maoist leftist, now I think retired, Dave Spart. But he would have been with you on that Mrs Thatcher was full of loathing. On no evidence whatsoever, and indeed against all the evidence.

Interesting that you feel one cannot be aspirational and proud of one’s heritage and communities. Maybe you need to meet some working class people?

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
3 years ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

Usually, “aspiration” = greed.

Claire D
Claire D
3 years ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

If all you have to offer in response to my comments is ad hominem attacks then I’m guessing I was close to the mark.

Evidence from me for Thatcher’s loathing of sections of the working class : her brutal treatment of the industrial north, in particular the miners, only a few of the mines were unprofitable.
I suggest you visit Merthyr Tydfil to get a flavour of her legacy.

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
3 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

She certainly did not think that people should have to go down coal mines to get out a product which required vast amounts of subsidies; most of the mines were unprofitable, only the open cast really made money. That is why we have no deep mines operating today. Nor did she think the UK should produce heavy industry at a loss, with folk working in awful conditions, just because we always had. The transition was painful, not least because it had ben so long delayed, but the fact that we have a thriving economy now is due to her governments determination to give people opportunities for a better life.

I have been to Merthyr Tydfil and it is a much more pleasant place now than it was a mining town. Ditto every other mining town.

Claire D
Claire D
3 years ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

Much more interesting comment, thank you.
The last deep coal mine closed in Kellingley, North Yorkshire in 2015.
I would like to believe that MT closed the mines out of the kindness of her heart but I’m sorry I think we both know that is not true. She did it, as had previous PMs, for economic reasons – cheaper to import coal from Russia, Columbia and the USA (where men still have to risk their lives to dig it out), but in her case it was also done primarily to wreck the NUM and undermine the trade unions generally as much as she could, she viewed it as a war, she went to war with her own people with a vengeance.

Scargill was certainly partly to blame for what happened but still I think it could have been handled more skillfully and with less devastating consequences than it was by Thatcher

I recognise and accept that some people like yourself admire and applaud her because she gave you what you wanted, but it would perhaps be more honest of you to also recognise that thousands of men and their families suffered, and still suffer, from the deprivation her war on them caused, rather than turn a blind eye and blithely deny it. If we don’t look at history honestly we run the risk of making the same mistakes over and over again.

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
3 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

We are never going to agree I suspect. The pain was awful, and it is easy to say that when one has not directly suffered it. But my family also felt very adversely the effects of modernisation, so my old flint heart has at least some empathy with coal miners and steel workers and shipbuilders.

And I think so did Mrs T. But she knew it had to be done to end up with a much more pleasant country. As does the surgeon who inflicts pain to bring about a cure.

She didn’t show it because she was not the type. There were some Tories who delighted in what happened and those I despise. Just as I despise those who scratch rich folks Bentley’s.

Where we began was with her alleged snobbery. She really was not a snob. In my interesting life I have met people from many backgrounds and I have come to see that snobbery is very little to do with class and a lot to do with attitude of mind. The worst snobs are from academia. I do hope that’s not your world as I really dont want to pour petrol on the flames!

Very interesting to debate with you, thank you.

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
3 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

Mrs T was a classic Eastern Counties Roundhead.

She had the Puritan virtues (hard work, thrift, reliability) but also the Puritan vices – notably harshness towards the poor.

tiffeyekno
tiffeyekno
3 years ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

Claire sounds more like Deirdrie Dutt-Pawker.