David Cameron’s “Big Society" dream will fail unless the country rediscovers traditionally Christian values, according to the academic credited with helping develop the concept.
Phillip Blond, a think-tank director known as the Prime Minister’s philosopher-king, will say in a speech today that the individualism fostered by the state and markets in recent decades has damaged society. He claims that this decline in “social capital" and the “disintegration” of relationships has reduced support for the country’s most vulnerable people. In order for Mr. Cameron’s idea of a “Big Society" to succeed, with citizens taking back power from the state to volunteer or run co-operative organisations, Mr. Blond believes that people will need to become less selfish. ‘Moral markets, and a return to civic association, require Christian values: mutuality, subsidiarity, reciprocity, solidarity, mediation – both in the theological and institutional sense’, he says. He called for the introduction of specific policies to support traditional families and old-fashioned local companies. These include a married couples’ tax allowance, at first for those with children under two years old, and additional support for family-run firms.
The Church of England has announced that it will not allow civil partnership ceremonies to take place in its churches unless the full General Synod gives its consent. A law enabling same-sex couples to register their partnerships in places of worship, removing a key legal distinction between the ceremony and marriage, came into force on Monday 5th December, 2011. But in a letter to the synod, secretary general William Fittall said no Church of England religious premises could host the registration of partnerships without written permission from the national assembly.
Peter Tatchell, the gay rights campaigner, called the move an ‘infringement of religious freedom’ and criticised the government for failing to force religious groups to host the ceremonies.
But the church’s legal office said its regulations do not constitute unlawful discrimination under the Equality Act as marriage and civil partnerships are different services and legally distinct concepts. It said in a statement, ‘A gentlemen’s outfitter is not required to supply women’s clothes. A children’s bookshop is not required to stock books that are intended for adults’. ‘And a church that provides a facility to marry is not required to provide a facility to same-sex couples for registering civil partnerships’.
The Speaker of the House of Commons has been criticised for squandering over £20,000 of taxpayers’ money on his new coat of arms, which features a prominent ‘equality’ rainbow.
John Bercow, who was named Politician of the Year 2010 by a homosexual campaign group, has become well known for championing ‘homosexual rights’. His coat of arms, designed by him with the help of the College of Arms, shows rainbow colours on a scroll and the motto “All Are Equal”, to signify the Speaker’s support for the ‘gay rights’ agenda. The new crest also includes pink triangles which are used as a symbol of the homosexual lobby. Mr Bercow also had a special painting of himself commissioned at a further cost of £22,000 to the taxpayer. Tory MP Rob Wilson said, ‘I am surprised that the Speaker feels it is a good use of public money in such challenging economic times’.
Mathew Sinclair, director of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said, ‘It’s very excessive at this time of public sector austerity for the Speaker to spend tens of thousands of pounds on a vanity portrait of himself.’