Tuesday, March 15, 2016

A Christian Country

The Prime Minister likes to appear on television around thie time of year to tell us that we are a Christian country. I suppose before you can judge what a Christian Country might be, youd have to come to some agreement about what being a Christian is, and from years of inviting in the people who come to my door to tell me what their version of Christianity or sect associated with it might be, I know that even individual members of the same faith community may have widely divergent views about it.

However, there's one thing that all versions of Christianity concur upon - yes and most other religions around the world. It's that you should treat other people the way that you would like to be treated. It's not good expecting others to be forgiving or merciful when you do something wrong or selfish or dishonest if you do not forgive others when they do similar things to you. The whole philosophy is included in the idea "love your neighbour as yourself".

 Can we say that we epitomise that philosophy? I used to think we did. We had a welfare state that cared for the sick, disabled, elderly and poor, and provided the with the means to live. Nowadays, when people have their benefits taken away from them because they didn't send paperwork they did send, or because they missed an appointment because they were in hospital with a sick child... nowadays I don't think we do. Would Mr Cameron want to be forced through constant assessments for his fitness to work if he had some sort of disability? Would he want to see his wife sink into a depression because she was treated like a skiver when she had cancer, or an amputated limb or blindness?

Of course that's never going to happen to them... but that's not the point. Christianity if it does anything at all, asks you to put yourself in the place of the other and imagine how you would want to be treated. And I don't think this is it. In any case, the idea that we have put all these jobs in the hands of private companies who make profits from the jobs that used to be done by civil servants and public employees, seems bad economics to me. If you have a limited fund of money then it ought to go on doing what you need to do and not on making profits for third parties.

The Conservative party have had a pretty easy time of it, as they managed to persuade the country that they were a safe pair of hands for the country and those profligate Labour people shouldn't be trusted. Except that isn't true, is it, Mr Cameron? Another example of unChristian behaviour, lying and spinning the truth in order to retain power. Companies are playing the game of transferring their HQ to other countries and paying little or no corporation tax, and Boots is one of those companies.

We should be insisting that they pay tax in the country in which their profits are made, and refuse to allow companies to play that game. The trouble is that the people in parliament are also benefitting from that arrangement and so it is unlikely to change soon unless we make it clear that's not acceptable. Personally, I think any MP who gains from those sorts of arrangements with family trusts or companie profits or even large shareholdings, should be disbarred from parliament. They expect people to pay their taxes... treating them the same as themselves would require them to pay their tax honestly too.