David Cameron recently declared himself and evangelical Christian. Following is a letter written to him personally, exploring his statement in the light of government policies:
Dear Mr Cameron
I am writing to you personally regarding your wish to counter neutrality in public life and “transform the spiritual, physical and moral state of Britain”. I belong to the generation of WW2 and post-war Brits who were brought up not only with a passionate loyalty for our country but also with a firm commitment to Christianity. Nationalism, loyalty and commitment reinforced the determination of those who survived the battlegrounds to return to the United Kingdom to “work hard and save hard” (just one of the recent sound bites of your government) to return a shattered, rationed Britain to its prominent position as the workshop of Europe.
I am a true Brit whose state pension, for which I worked hard and saved hard, continues to be frozen by your government because I chose to retire to a Commonwealth country.
My strong Christian education taught me that Christianity is not about what you claim to believe; it is about how you act towards your fellow man. I suspect that this is the underlying message in the Bishops’ published letter. While it is great for you to have had that “healing power experience” the question is how you have translated that into actions for your fellow man. Where are your Christian ethical values and your Christian leadership if you allow billions of pounds to be wasted, mismanaged, and allocated to doubtful projects while your fellow Brits – in the UK as well as frozen overseas – go hungry because of government policies?
My specific interest in writing to you concerns the unethical and un-Christian discrimination against certain British pensioners who retire abroad. While you have recently expressed “sympathy” at our plight (while your pensions minister – another so-called Christian – says “sympathy butters no parsnips”), I have to ask what you have done to address the ‘out-of-sight-out-of-mind’ and “they don’t vote do they” injustice? Please do not trot out the usual excuses which have now proved to be fallacious – see my website www.parity-warrior.com if you do not believe that. Frozen pensions are so unjust, so unethical and so clearly discriminatory that they are an obvious flag under which any evangelical Christian would fight. Regrettably, we do not see you at the front, waving that flag.
While your Secretary for Work and Pensions (another so-called Christian), has created an excellent springboard for change in the new Pensions Bill, all we hear from the Chancellor and the Treasury is that “we cannot afford to meet the additional cost” of pension parity. But Britain is a rich country – that is what you said. You have also said “it is not just doing what we can afford; it is about doing what is right. Nowhere is that more true than in welfare. For me the moral case for welfare reform is every bit as important as making the numbers add up.” Making the numbers add up would be easy; there is enough money wasted from the overseas aid budget alone, every year, to pay pension parity to all pensioners irrespective of place of residence, without demeaning the real benefits received overseas by those in need.
We have long realised that Steve Webb is little more than a “Political Christian” – not getting in there to make a difference to people’s lives but in there merely to present an acceptable picture to the electorate. If that was not the case he would not have been able to argue so strongly for a cause in 2004 only to abandon that cause when he achieved the power to make a difference. We also know that the “committed Christian” Prime Minister Tony Blair defined Political Christianity very clearly when he knowingly mis-presented evidence to support killing thousands of Iraqis, possibly to cover up the questionable history of arms supplies to Iraq supported by the British government under Margaret Thatcher (another so-called Christian). As the leader column in The Telegraph last week said, “If we are witnessing a genuine attempt by politicians to engage in the great moral causes, then that can only be a good thing”. My question therefore has to be: Where do you stand? If you are the evangelical Christian you claim, I suggest you will not be able to stand by and see the moral injustice of frozen ex-pat pensions continue during the remainder of your administration – you will want and need to stand up and demand that the money is found to end the discrimination without delay or, at worst, that it is corrected through the new Pensions Bill. After all, you would have “found” much more money to commit to a war against Syria had Parliament agreed.
If your Christian evangelicalism is not strong enough to act decisively and morally to correct known injustices then I claim that it is merely political - nothing more than convenient and vacuous words in the run-up to an election. If you really want to “transform the spiritual, physical and moral state of Britain” you must be a role model to effect change. Are you willing to be that role model, to use your power and act decisively to correct the frozen pension discrimination? There is an additional benefit. You would be honouring the commitment made in the Commonwealth Charter – even though Steve Webb conveniently considers the Queen’s signature merely to represent a “guideline” – to oppose discrimination on any ground. You would be supporting Her Majesty the Queen, a true Christian. You would also be adding a ring of truth to your recent speech in Belfast when you said “No matter where you live we will look after you, we will support you, a mark of respect for all those who have worked hard for all their lives”. We would like to receive that mark of respect.
You stated at a Prime Minister’s Question Time that you personally answer all letters you receive and I therefore hope to hear from you in due course. I hope to hear how you will put right this recognised political injustice of frozen pensions.
Yours sincerely, from a life-long Conservative voter
I have received the following reply (from an un-named "officer"):
I am writing on behalf of the Prime Minister to thank you for your recent letter. Mr Cameron is grateful for the time and trouble you have taken to get in touch. Because the Department for Work and Pensions is best placed to respond to the matters you raise, he has asked me to forward your letter to the Department so that they may reply to your concerns directly.
So much for Mr Cameron's promise to reply personally to any letter addressed to him! But, with all those poor election results, he is a worried man and I have given him another chance to reply personally - watch this space!
July 2014: A further communication from Downing Street states, "the Prime Minuster receives many pieces of correspondence each week .. it is simply impossible for him to respond personally to all of them."
So, David Cameron lied when he said, during a televised PMQ session, that he replies to every letter addressed to him; he lied when he said during a "cash-for-questions" exchange that every citizen has equal access to ministers - clearly the recent party for the wealthy to meet ministers, when ordinary people cannot get answers to their letters, reinforces that. He lied in Belfast when he said that the government will look after you wherever you choose to live.
Is he a Christian? Surely Christians do not lie, or at least they make a conscious effort to avoid lying - don't they? I have to assume from now on that everything David Cameron says, everything that he promises in the pre-election months to come, is potentially a lie!