I have often been critical of the Church of England’s leadership for being slow to speak out on issues of economic justice. I’m therefore delighted that 43 CofE bishops have criticised the coalition for cutting benefits (or technically, for raising them by one percent, which is below the rate of inflation and therefore a cut in all but name).
On the day of the Eastleigh by-election, figures were released which showed a marked recent decline in net migration, which obviously delighted the Government. Home Secretary Theresa May boasted about how much she had toughened up the rules, but perhaps in an attempt to forestall one potential criticism, stressed the fact that visas for university students had increased by three percent overall.
It is unfair that jobless benefits have risen far faster than salaries, claimed UK welfare secretary Iain Duncan Smith. But his efforts to justify a further onslaught on the living standards of unemployed people are unconvincing.
British state plans to force unemployed people to look for work online and monitor them while they do so have been widely condemned. Privacy will be invaded, crime boosted and poor and disabled people victimised.
The government wants “To set our country back on the path to prosperity that all can share in” and “mend a broken society”, claimed UK Prime Minister David Cameron at the Conservative Party conference on 10 October. Despite national policies inflicting deepening misery on the poorest in society, and promises by his ministers of more of the same, he was seeking to portray his leadership as compassionate and inclusive.