One of the best pieces of advice in politics: never e-mail anything that you’d be embarrassed to see on Page 2 of The Sun. Or Tweet. I should have known better. Incensed at Archbishop Rowan Williams’ naive intervention in the welfare debate, I tweeted: “The Archbishop of Canterbury clearly knows nothing about either economics or welfare: he should pipe down.” Today it’s on Page 2 of The Sun. And in the Mail, and the Express, and the Financial Times.
I should perhaps say right up front that I have a huge respect for the Church of England, as a great British cultural icon, and an essential element in our Constitution. I attend my parish church regularly (though not often — four times a year, typically). I love the old hymns that I sang as a child. And like Prince Charles, I love the cadences of the King James version, and the liturgy of the Book of Common Prayer.
I just regret that the church seems to have been taken over by wet liberal/leftists, who like Peter Simple’s Bishop Spacely-Trellis are prepared to parrot any modish nonsense that they think is “compassionate”.
Archbishop Williams says that asking recipients of unemployment pay to do a small amount of unpaid work in the community is demeaning, and is likely to feed a cycle of disillusion and despair.
No, Rowan. It is welfare dependency that creates a cycle of desperation and despair, that denies people the self-reliance and self-respect that should be our human birthright. It cannot be right that many thousands of children are raised in homes with no one in paid employment, or that there are thousands of British homes with three generations, none of whom has ever worked. The truth is (as Simon Heffer has said) that we have an underclass because we have decided to pay for one. It is time we stopped paying for it. The way out of poverty is through employment, and we must do all we can to ensure that employment is attractive, and that fecklessness is not rewarded.
Of course there are those unable to work, and those genuinely seeking work and prepared to work. They deserve our sympathy and support. But there are others who have decided that benefits (perhaps supplemented by some undeclared moonlighting) are a lifestyle choice. It is not fair that hard-pressed tax-payers should support such a choice, and I for one am delighted by Iain Duncan Smith’s robust moves to address this problem.
The good Archbishop offers no alternative, but his policy seems to be spend, spend spend; borrow to support spending; drive up interest rates as foreign lenders take fright at UK government debt; and mortgage the future and the prosperity of our grandchildren so that the Archbishop can wear his compassion on his sleeve. That’s not compassion — that’s dishonesty and folly writ large.
So I make no apology for my Tweet, even if it did end up on Page 2 of The Sun. I guess that’s better than being on Page 3.