In Defence of the Left’s Christian Traditions | Dr. Rakib Ehsan
The wild reactions to Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer’s recent article for The Church Times, tells a story of a British Left in perilous shape.
An unfortunately growing number on the Left – no doubt unaware of well-established philosophies which blend left-inspired economics with conventional teachings of Christianity – view Christian values as “Tory values”. And the more deranged ultra-woke elements consider support for Christian values as sustaining the structures of “white supremacy” in Britain – a country where many devout Christians belong to racial minorities.
While it may be an inconvenient truth for godless leftists who sneer at those of faith, the Labour Party is an institution with a rich Christian social-democrat tradition. Although Christianity is often associated with conservativism, Christian social democracy is a well-established ideological strand in British politics.
Christian social democracy rests on the “negative” and positive” argument. The “negative argument” is that the materialistic individualism associated with free-market capitalism is contrary to the neighbourly and dutiful existence urged by Scripture, with the “positive argument” that social democracy provides the most suitable system by which mutual solidarity and social responsibility can be best fostered. As a British Muslim trade unionist who has traditionally voted for the Labour Party, a reconnection with these traditional Christian origins would be a welcome development.
And this leads us to the progressive liberal myth that the Blue Labourism preached by the likes of UnHerd’s Paul Embery – which incorporates an appreciation of faith, family-oriented values, and civic duty – would alienate swathes of non-white voters across Britain. The view that faith can be a source of strength and optimism in the most challenging of times; that a stable family unit remains the finest form of social security known to humankind; the fundamental belief that there is far more meaning to life than being a self-interested, atomised individual.
Of course, I long for “white-liberal saviours” – self-styled protectors of an imagined “BAME” community – to explain how these key tenets of Blue Labour would alienate Gujarati Hindus in Neasden, Punjabi Sikhs in Wolverhampton, Kashmiri Muslims in Halifax, Sylheti Muslims in Luton, and Syro-Malabar Catholics in Preston. And I would certainly be keen to see them sell the virtues of gender self-identification and “informing” people in such communities on terms such as “cisgender” and “non-binary”.
“White Saviourism” is an accelerating illness on the British Left – a tragic tale of over-confident but ultimately witless progressive liberal activists believing they represent the best interests of traditional non-white communities which are underpinned by culturally conservative values.
A strong dose of Blue Labour medicine is urgently needed to prevent the Left from succumbing to this illness. Time is of the essence.
Have a blessed Sunday all.
Dr Rakib Ehsan is a research fellow at the Henry Jackson Society. He can be found on Twitter: @rakibehsan.