Leadership Candidates in dialogue with COTL/Jeremy Corbyn

Christians on the Left put the following questions to the Leadership and Deputy Leadership candidates. 

  • What role do the candidates see churches and people of other faiths
    playing in the future of the Labour Party?
  • In line with our campaign would you support full legal separation of
    ‘casino’ investment banking and retail banking?

We appreciate the candidates taking the time to respond and their responses are uploaded in the order we have received them. 

Jeremy Corbyn (Leadership candidate) @jeremycorbyn

I believe faith communities are essential allies in the struggle for a better Britain. I want to create a society embedded in values of fairness and equality, empathy and solidarity. I want a society that better enables us all to realise the innate goodness
inherent in our nature. I know this aspiration is shared as deeply within faith communities. Last year 13 million of our fellow citizens were living in poverty. With the worst of Tory austerity yet to come, that figure is only set to rise.

I know that up and down the country there are people of all faiths and none, on the front line of welfare reform, bearing witness to the pain this government is inflicting on the some of our poorest communities. I want to see more faith leaders publicly challenge this injustice. In speaking out last year against the impact of welfare cuts, the twenty-six Church of England Bishops were standing up for those abandoned by the politicians who should be protecting them. We need unity to stop the damage this government is wrecking and I will stand shoulder to shoulder with all faith leaders to that end. I believe it is wrong that the poorest are being made to pay for an economic crisis that is the responsibility of the richest.

The 'Truth and Lies about Poverty' report produced by the Baptist Union, Methodist Church, Church of Scotland and United Reformed Church was an excellent contribution towards challenging the myth that poverty primarily stems from laziness or poor personal choices. I believe it is wrong too that the language of ‘benefit scroungers’ which accompanies austerity is breeding intolerance and indifference to the suffering of others.  It is an outrage that over 2,300 people have died after their Work Capability Assessment told them they should start looking for work.  When we permit the bullying of the poor and immigrants, it encourages bullies everywhere. A new study claims our children are among them the unhappiest in the world, with widespread bullying a major culprit. Should we be surprised?

Christians on the Left call on us all to ‘love the poor, defend the widow, the refugee and the orphan and stand against injustice - large or small’.  These values are at the heart of the Labour party and ones I share a deep commitment to.  I want to help create a society that strives to leave no one behind, society more socially conscious and responsible, not one in thrall to rampant materialism and selfish individualism. I look forward to working with Christians on the Left, and other faith communities, towards that end.

Your second question asks whether I support full legal separation of ‘casino’ investment banking and retail banking.

I certainly do.

We have learnt the hard way that bankers have short memories. When things are going well, money is cheap and confidence is high, bankers invariably get overconfident and underestimate the risks they face.  It was exactly this recklessness that resulted in banks increasing their lending to 30, 40 or more times their available reserves prior to the 2008, with the disastrous consequences we all too familiar with.  When these issues were examined by the Independent Commission on Banking in 2011 it recommended a ‘firewall’ between bank’s investment and retail sections.  I share the concerns of those, like Christians on the Left, who feel that these measures are too easily circumvented and more rigorous banking reform is required.

The full legal separation between ‘casino’ and retail banking is an important part of a bigger package of banking reform we need to ensure that our economy is never again left vulnerable to actions of the greedy and reckless.

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Leadership Candidates in dialogue with COTL/Ben Bradshaw

Christians on the Left put the following questions to the Leadership and Deputy Leadership candidates. 

  • What role do the candidates see churches and people of other faiths
    playing in the future of the Labour Party?
  • In line with our campaign would you support full legal separation of
    ‘casino’ investment banking and retail banking?

We appreciate the candidates taking the time to respond and their responses are uploaded in the order we have received them. 

Ben Bradshaw  (deputy leadership candidate) @BenPBradshaw

I came to the Labour Party partly through my Christian faith and am a life long member of Christians on the Left (formerly the Christian Socialist Movement). Churches and faith groups play a key role in most communities. In my own city, they run the food bank, youth clubs, services for the homeless and many other services as well as campaigning on important issues ranging from climate change and the environment generally, poverty, international development and conflict reduction. Labour shares many of these causes and values and I think we could do much more as a Party to work with and mutually support the excellent work the churches and faith groups do. I feel this has been neglected in recent years. We should have a more open and inclusive approach to churches and faith groups locally and nationally. This would be mutually beneficial as we would find many people involved in their local church or faith group would find a natural political home in our Party.

I also support full legal separation of 'casino' investment banking and retail banking. 

 

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All We Can update following second major earthquake in Nepal

All_We_Can_logo.pngYou may have heard the news that a second major earthquake struck Nepal today. This comes just two weeks after the first quake, in which over 8,000 people are confirmed to have died. Early reports indicate that further deaths have occurred today and the situation is changing hour by hour.

All We Can, the Methodist relief and development charity, is continuing to respond to the rapidly evolving situation on the ground and is appealing for further donations towards the vital relief effort. Fortunately, it has heard from staff and partners in Nepal today and they are safe. Nick Burn of All We Can, who is currently in Nepal to co-ordinate and support its local partners as they respond to the first earthquake, reported this today from the field:

“People are very nervous. When the quake happened this morning everyone came running out of buildings. Your heart rate increases as it’s happening and you just never know what’s going to happen from one moment to the next. Many of the aftershocks feel like earthquakes themselves, but this one was obviously a big one. Where we are in Gorkha District, a woman and two children were injured as a building collapsed and we’re getting phone calls that there have been more deaths in other areas, but this is not yet verified.”All_We_Can_-_Kopila_-_Pokhari_(13).jpg

All We Can is asking for Christians on the Left members to stand in solidarity with those suffering in Nepal today. Your prayer for their local partners and all those responding on the ground – and seeking to deal with both the physical and the emotional impact – is most needed. Please also give all you can. Your gift will help All We Can’s trusted local partners respond quickly to this worsening crisis. You can donate by visiting www.allwecan.org.uk/nepal, calling 020 7224 4814, or sending a cheque to All We Can, 25 Marylebone Road, London NW1 5JR. For those who have already responded to the appeal, thank you.

 

Image: All We Can/Kopila Destruction in the village of Pokhari

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Disaster in Nepal: All We Can responds to the Nepal earthquake

All_We_Can_logo.pngFollowing the terrible disaster that struck Nepal on Saturday 25th April, many of you have been asking for further information about how you can respond. 'All We Can' have been in touch with us and shared this with us.

All We Can, the Methodist relief and development charity, has launched an emergency appeal to enable its local partners to respond in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake in Nepal on Saturday 25 April.

As we have all seen this recent earthquake, the worst in 81 years, caused devastation across the mountainous country and the death toll has already exceeded 5000 people. The epicentre of the earthquake, which measured 7.8 in magnitude, centred around 50 miles east of the city of Pokhara.

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Christians should have confidence voting Labour

Christians on the Left believes that Christians can have confidence voting Labour at the General Election next week. Although affiliated to the Labour Party, the organisation is independent and so free to take its own line. In the run up to the election, Christians on the Left has pressed for policies which, in its view, best mirror core Christian values.

Andy Flannagan, Christians on the Left director said:
It might be of little surprise to many people but we think the Labour manifesto goes a long way to answering some of our main concerns. With many Christians helping to run food banks and debt counselling services, we can see that the country urgently needs policies that will lead to a more equal society. It is what church leaders have been calling for in their pre-election letters to congregations. For change to happen, politicians need to take action. We can see that commitment in Labour’s pledges, for example to build more homes, increase the minimum wage, and act against exploitative zero hours contracts.

"The Labour manifesto underlines the importance of working together for the common good. This is in contrast to the divisive rhetoric from other parties."

Christians on the Left has for a long while been calling for an economy in which everyone participates. This has included campaigning for retail and investment banking to be separated and joining others campaigning against payday lending and for a more inclusive economy.

Christians on the Left members are involved in election campaigning, with 25 members fighting the election as new parliamentary candidates.

 

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Who is going back to the Jericho road?

Show-Up-Logo-720.jpg"Some of us need to be in the system"

The second part of the 'show up' video has been launched, asking 'who is going back to the Jericho road?' A thought provoking video that asks us to consider not just voting but to get involved and be part of the system. "If we don't show up in those places the church may spend the next 50 years as the nations paramedic, treating the victims of a flawed system but failing to bring righteousness and justice to the system itself" 

Please watch and share the video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aa4canKcoYo and consider using #ShowUp2.0 

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Labour's manifesto offers hope

Labour's election manifesto offers real hope to the country, says Christians on the Left.

The commitment to equality and the pledges to help raise living standards speak to the concerns identified by church leaders, such as the Archbishops of Canterbury and York.

Labour's manifesto states that Labour intends to be:

"the Party of work, family, and community. We believe in a society of trust and mutual obligation, in which we look after the vulnerable, and people can bring up families with hope for a better future."

Church leaders have highlighted rising inequality and a society in which 900,000 people are using food banks. The manifesto answers these concerns:

"We believe that no person should suffer discrimination or a lack of opportunity. The decisions we take in government will always be taken with this in mind. The policies in our manifesto will help remove the barriers that stand in the way of greater equality. We know we achieve more when we work together to challenge the inequalities of power and build a common good."

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Responding to Church Times poll

This week's Church Times contains the results of a YouGov opinion poll of voting intentions. It indicates that religious people are more likely to vote Conservative.

The poll puts both Labour and the Conservatives on 34%. However, of those who regard themselves as religious, 42% say they would vote Conservative and 31% Labour. Of particular interest to Church Times, 48% of Anglicans say they will vote Conservative compared to 27% Labour (for Roman Catholics, the figures are 31% and 42% respectively).

However, this is only one poll and the polling data on religious affiliation and voting intentions have been mixed. For example, the Evangelical Alliance last month published data (from a comprehensive survey last year) that showed voting intentions 31% Labour and 28% Conservative. Moreover, the Church Times data looks at voting by religious affiliation, which is different to looking at active church members.

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Churches Update

The Labour Party's latest Churches Update is now out. Focusing on the General Election, it begins with a message from Labour leader Ed Miliband. Writing about Labour's links with the churches, Ed Miliband comments: 

"As the Leader of the Labour Party I am proud of our movement’s roots in the Christian tradition. That tradition underpins our conviction about the importance of social action and our belief in the power of community transformation. "

The Churches Update also includes contributions from the CEOs of Christian organisations involved in a variety of social action and campaigning, saying what they would like to see from the next government.

The Churches Update can be downloaded here.

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Uk strengthens its covenant with global poor

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‘I am delighted that now after years of campaigning by faith groups and charities a legal commitment has been made to commit 0.7% of GNI as Official Development Assistance. This significant achievement is a cause that was resolutely championed by the Labour Party over recent decades and Labour MPs and Peers played a decisive role in ensuring its success. We have strengthened our covenant with the global poor and many lives will be saved and changed as a result.’ 

 Rt Hon Stephen Timms, Chair of Christians on the Left

 On Monday 9 March 2015 the UK became the first G7 member to enshrine in law its commitment to spending 0.7% on official development assistance. The Official Development Assistance Bill now awaits a date for Royal Assent where the Bill will become an Act of parliament.

Christians on the left is proud that the Bill cleared its final hurdle in the House of Lords and that several of our members championed and actively fought for this. We would like to thank those members, particularly those MPs and Peers who worked so tirelessly to see the 0.7% target enshrined in law.

We would also like to acknowledge the work done by The Labour Campaign For International Development for its commitment to see a world without poverty and injustice. 1 in 4 of the Labour MP’s who voted for the Bill were LCID members or encouraged to attend the vote by LCID.

You can read more about this and the Labour party’s commitment to international development here

You can access the Bill here

You can find out more about the campaign #turnupsavelives and the question of why Aid is needed here

 

 

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