In its context it didn’t sound as bad as his critics claim, but with the use of the phrase ‘bunch of migrants’ David Cameron is proving himself to be a repeat offender.
Worse still was his use of the word ‘swarm’ last summer, to describe the migrant problem then. He and his government colleagues are often to be found using dismissive phrases and words about benefit claimants and others. The problem is that such glib language strips the humanity away from people. The answer to dehumanising language about migrants is not to pretend that they’re all saints fleeing persecution and oppression – we know for a fact that a very great many of them are simply seeking a better standard of living — but to challenge it whenever it occurs.
For my part, I think the Conservative Party would help itself if it had fewer public school boys at the top table and much greater diversity.
I admit I may be guilty of personal prejudice, but I cannot help but think that the average old Etonian might struggle to understand and empathise with those born on the other side of the tracks. However, there are always exceptions to this, and I think my bias can be more charitably phrased – a preponderance of people from exactly the same background is likely to cause any institution a degree of blindness. And this is why all institutions, charities, political parties and churches should deal with the diversity issue.
This means that it sometimes takes some active encouragement to ensure that people from every background are encouraged to rise to the top. It’s very easy for those imbued with the natural confidence that a private education bestows to be clubbable enough to climb the greasy pole. Those without the natural swagger and easy charm deserve the opportunity as well.
In other words, if David Cameron relied on the advice of a wider group of people he would be less likely to use language that demeans migrants or benefits claimants.
By this, I do not mean he should necessarily change his policies, but desist from attacking those who do not have the same advantages. He may find if he seeks to involve a greater diversity in his Cabinet that people cease to single out his public school background and his membership of the Bullingdon Club for criticism.
Attacks aimed at the person are always wrong whether they are centred around privilege or the lack of it.
Anglicans and same-sex marriage
So Anglicans are changing their views on same-sex marriage. The survey, organised by Jayne Ozanne, a leading gay activist, found that for the first time those who say they are Anglicans are more likely to be in favour of gay marriage than not.
The precise numbers are that 45 per cent now approve of same sex-marriage, compared with 37 per cent who believe it is wrong. A similar survey from three years ago found the reverse: 38 per cent of Anglicans in favour and 47 per opposed.
It rather misses the point to complain about the methodology or that those designating themselves ‘C of E’ are purely nominal. After all, by tradition and history Anglicans don’t like to focus on membership distinctions. We proudly say that everyone is welcome to the Church of England – it is the Church for the nation.
And it should be no surprise when there is such poor teaching and discipleship that views can change so rapidly. Let’s face it, 10 years ago gay marriage wasn’t even on the wish list of Stonewall. It has come along like a cultural juggernaut from nowhere.
The real point, however, is that opinion polls are neither here nor there when it comes to such matters. The state can define marriage how it likes, but Christians are not at liberty to do so. The church that redefines marriage will no longer be able to claim to be a Christian church.