The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, argued in his recent Magna Carta lecture against the idea of a fully elected second chamber at Westminster. As the debate about Lords reform continues, political theologian Graeme Smith seeks to show why the Archbishop is wrong to put his faith in an oligarchic form of democracy rather than one based on full electoral accountability.
In the wake of the 2012 local elections and other recent developments, we can see that local democracy in England is in a perilous state. Voter apathy shows that. Simon Barrow looks at the issue in its wider context, and suggests that deep change is required that goes well beyond single-fix 'solutions'.
The next Archbishop will be chosen by the great and the good, sprinkled with some local diocesan worthies, observes Graeme Smith. They will weigh up the diverse and competing needs of the Church of England, the Anglican Communion, the British State, and the diocese of Canterbury. They will receive submissions, take soundings and consult widely before reaching their considered opinion. But is not a less oligarchical and hierarchical way forward possible?
Disabled actor, writer and comedian Francesca Martinez, who has been outspoken in support of those challenging the impact on vulnerable people of the Welfare Reform Bill (WRB), put the matter powerfully and poignantly on the This Week TV politics show: the government, she said, is "morally disabled" in its approach to these issues and to the human effect of its policies.
“Are you for King or for Parliament?” I was taught at a tender age to ask the burning question of mid 17th century England as a means of assessing an individual's take on society. It seems apposite once again.