Lord Carey: Coincidence of Views?

Saturday, 9th January 2010 at 9:00 UTC 13 comments

When you follow politics in depth, sometimes you begin to see patterns emerging, certain people keep popping up. Right now the person I’m watching is former Archbishop Lord Carey, who’s made two interventions in recent weeks on issues close to my heart.

This week’s outburst of Carey appearances has surrounded immigration, where he has tied to sound as compassionate as possible whilst in effect peddling the same old lifeboat theory, or more accurately excuse, about only being able to save so many people before the ship sinks. He’s put the cap at 70m and futhermore, has decided to add acceptance of the domination of Christianity in Britain as an entry citerion. Whatever he says, its very unlikely this is a policy that can fulfill the commandment to “Love Your Neighbour” in today’s Globalised World.

There is no doubt that Lord Carey is highly respected by those in positions of  power; he was handed a life peerage when he retired from the previous post. But this says rather a lot about him. He’s very much the politician’s Archbishop. I do wonder whether Dr Rowan Williams would accept such an offer, or indeed whether he’d be given one after his denouncing of greed in the banking sector, for instance.

Lord Carey also decided to wade into the Father Tim row. This might seem like an alternative viewpoint from within the church, the media setting up and filming division inside the church, but it later came to my attention that Lord Carey has also taken up membership of the World Economic Forum, an exclusive club for the thinkers and doers driving Globalisation, neo-colonial land grabbing and privatisation of essential services around the world.

Its very sad to see someone who has been so involved in the Church becoming a mouthpiece for big business, but that is, sadly, what the experience of watching anyone being adopted as a friend of the World Economic Forum looks like. Even Bono’s talk becomes considerably more measured when he’s there, and it was at the WEF that President Lula began his demise.

It has been at the forefront of the push to make global poverty a post-political issue; one where we simply accept that there is consensus and that somehow we all have the same desires on the issue, and the same needs to resolve it, as if there is no conflict between free development of Africa and the West’s goals to dominate the continent for centuries to come.

I was reading the book “The Myth of a Christian Nation” by Greg Boyd, which I bought shortly before Christmas. I don’t agree with everything the man has to say, as he loses all sight of a centre-margins analysis, but he does say some wonderful things about the damage done through aligning the church with the power structures of this world. If recent appearances are anything to go by, I think Lord Carey may be becoming the premier example of this phenomena in the UK. This is very sad indeed, for it will cripple our ability to oppose the government from out of the margins on issues of injustice facing those we seek to serve. Its a difficult situation to challenge, as further division will help no one, but its one we must if we are to keep the Church’s ability to speak out.


Entry filed under: Church, Economics, Faith, News, Politics, The Right.

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13 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Greg  |  Tuesday, 12th January 2010 at 13:18 UTC

    Would you be talking about George Carey’s signiature on the document referenced in http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/damianthompson/100021419/lord-carey-former-archbishop-of-canterbury-shatters-the-anglican-consensus-on-immigration/ which was put together by that veteran of right wing racism, Frank Field? Or would you be talking about his thoroughly moderate column in the Times at http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/damianthompson/100021419/lord-carey-former-archbishop-of-canterbury-shatters-the-anglican-consensus-on-immigration/ where he explicitly states that”This is not to say that I am calling for Christians as a group to be given priority in any migration points system. The tragedy is that any intervention into such sensitive matters is open to such widespread misinterpretation.”?

    GC’s point is not the lifeboat model, it is that should immigration be too rapid, the social upheaval will feed into the BNP vote and set races against each other. Graham, please actually read what people say before you start mud slinging. Needlessly insulting people without doing your homework is very bad.

    • 2. Graham Martin  |  Tuesday, 12th January 2010 at 13:44 UTC

      I think you missed copied one of the links, as they’re both the same.

      “Good old George Carey! I never thought I’d write those words, since he talked so much nonsense when he was in office, but in recent years his contacts with the evangelical world have opened his eyes to the shared anti-Christian agenda of multiculturalists and Muslims.”

      To me, that sounds immensely right wing and reactionary. Muslims, by and large, are quite happy to endorse Christians being Christians. Only those the media highlights are actually against the idea that we all get on with diligently (or perhaps even dutifully) following our respective faiths. If that is his basis, then I was right all along.

      “The tragedy is that any intervention into such sensitive matters is open to such widespread misinterpretation.” – I found this statement about as galling as the “Some of my friends are Muslims” line; you immediately know that, even if its being acknowledged to be a bad position, a position of xenophobia is being taken; the language is very telling.

      And what of this “Anglican consensus”? One of the few particularly good standpoints of the Church of England is that it resolutely opposes further restrictions on immigration. It isn’t an explicit “No Borders” policy, granted, but it does more or less indicate that the church is opposed to the idea of some people having more right to be in a given country than others.

      The lifeboat was maybe the wrong reference, but he does appear to be using the possibility of immigration rocking the boat too much to rationalise a “humanitarian” case for reducing immigration. This isn’t tackling the BNP, this is cowardice. I find this author’s reference to “Strangers into Citizens” galling. It wasn’t Naive – it was a brave and bold plan for acknowledging the humanity of those around us. We have to sort out the wealth disparity between Britain and “sender countries” or militarising our borders will be the only option – and then the privilege will only become more entrenched.

  • 3. Greg  |  Tuesday, 12th January 2010 at 14:29 UTC

    Yes, Carey’s own piece is http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/guest_contributors/article6978389.ece

    Hint: never rely on Damian Thompson for information on such matters. Also, don’t reproduce articles in full, it could get you into hot water with copyright.

    • 4. Graham Martin  |  Tuesday, 12th January 2010 at 15:03 UTC

      When did I reproduce an article in full?

      This is really a non-solution. Apart from anything else, it ignores the protest votes and “negative votes”, i.e. the votes against Labour and the Tories that get cast for the BNP. He is taking the easy line against the BNP.

  • 5. Greg  |  Tuesday, 12th January 2010 at 17:22 UTC

    Oops sorry, you didn’t do that, I got confused which bits were from the Damian Thompson article. My bad.

    However, don’t condemn Carey based on Thompson’s report on Carey. You’ve used a secondary source where a primary source is readily available (the Times article I linked) so why on earth have you apparently not read that, or if you have, why aren’t you actually quoting it? The “strangers into citizens” part isn’t even about George Carey, it’s Damian Thompson commenting on Cormac Murphy O’Connor’s past actions!

    You’ve cited nothing stronger than a piece of comment by a famously strongly opinionated commentator, in preference to examining what George Carey actually said, even after I gave you the original link. For someone with a university education, that’s appallingly bad use of sources.

    By the way, there is no capital letter in “naive” in any language I have ever heard of, it is an adjective (whatever you say about activist labels) and you do.not.capitalise.adjectives!

    • 6. Graham Martin  |  Wednesday, 13th January 2010 at 0:05 UTC

      Erm, I wrote my main response whilst I only had one of the links you sent me. I did look at the Balanced Immigration site to check what they were up to whilst writing the article. Having read the Telegraph column in full now I’m no less convinced that my point still stands. He may only be appeasing the far right, but hey is basically offering no defence against their rise.

      I referred to “Strangers into Citizens” because it is an initiative that contrasts with Carey’s actions, and as Damian Thompson had mentioned it, why shouldn’t I continue using it?

      And yes, I do feel that Carey is proposing something incredibly xenophobic, that appeasing the far right won’t work, and that ultimately his argument about protecting the Christian Heritage of Britain is at best silly and at worst theologically bad. I would commend megachurch pastor Greg Boyd’s “The Myth of a Christian Nation” as good reading for these purposes. In it, he explains at great length why Christianity should never deal in such nationalistic assertions.

    • 7. Lois  |  Friday, 15th January 2010 at 13:33 UTC

      Greg, neither have I found a language where there are full stops instead of spaces between the words in a sentence. If you’re going to criticise grammar etc (which isn’t really the point of a blog) then at least do so grammatically! You are doing it for effect, to call attention to a point, which is exactly the same reason (I imagine) why Graham capitalised Naive (which I agree isn’t correct, but really, it’s not an essay!)

      • 8. Greg  |  Friday, 15th January 2010 at 15:28 UTC

        Yes, I did it for emphasis and yes, at the time I was aware of the irony. At least I only did it at one point in the comment, whereas Mr Martin likes to capitalise half the nouns in his posts plus a lot of the other words as well, which is dangerously close to shouting. He’s also shockingly inconsistent about both those and his apostrophes, which amounts to sheer laziness. If he wants to broadcast his views to the world, he could at least take the time communicate according to a recognised protocol, or at least closer approximation to one than I managed in year 6 at school.

  • 9. Greg  |  Wednesday, 13th January 2010 at 16:13 UTC

    George Carey’s Times piece is easily Googleable, but you still give no indication of actually having read it. You say that you’ve now read the Damian Thompson’s column “in full”, which I assume means that you hadn’t read all of it when you wrote your original post? Where did you actually get your information from? Launching an attack on someone without knowing what they actually said is morally base and incredibly intellectually lazy. Heaven knows what I could say about you if I just what Damian Thompson said after he read your blog.

    • 10. Graham Martin  |  Thursday, 14th January 2010 at 21:36 UTC

      No, I said I had now read George Carey’s column, his “Times piece” as you call it, in full.

      So, from the beginning: i read the excepts from it within the BBC’s article, and had read the website of the group he proclaims to be supporting, including the statement that he signed. Then I wrote the blog post. Then you provided me with a link to Damian Thompson’s piece, from which I responded throwing much of the argument back in your/Thompson’s face. Then I read Carey’s original column and found very little difference between it and the words selected by the BBC (i.e. they had done a fair editing down).

      “In Dagenham, where I was brought up, there is a very real danger that a white working-class electorate, alienated by far-reaching social change and largely ignored by the mainstream parties, could vote for a BNP Member of Parliament. This would be a tragedy in our long history of parliamentary democracy. Yet we play into the hands of the far Right if we do not seriously address the concerns that have led to some otherwise decent people supporting modern-day fascism.”

      First of all, highlighting Dagenham like this will only reinforce the message that the BNP will get an MP in Dagenham. Its dangerous to make such a strong link in such a prominent way. Also, we could as easily see such a breakthrough in any one of a half dozen seats, maybe.

      Second, his final sentence is critically weak on analysis of the present situation. We play into the BNP’s hands if we address the issue that they are trying to highlight. We can, however, take the bull by the horns (or maybe the bear by the paws, given the state of the markets) and name what has really happened under New Labour: namely, a widening wealth gap between richest and poorest that has little to do with race, and more to do with marginalisation. The BNP plays off this to get an outcome that is by no means automatic, but is cheap and simple. Labour have thankfully begun to shift the debate back onto the real issues of privilege and marginalisation, the centre-margins division, and above all, class. It hasn’t gone away. Some people have moved from one class to another. But in the last decade it has become more relevant than ever.

      What I have been criticising Carey for all along is a bias to the Rich, a failure to seek biblical solidarity with the poor, etc. Having the whole text of his statement just points to the galling omissions from his statement. Now answer that.

  • 11. Greg  |  Friday, 15th January 2010 at 18:22 UTC

    So you admit to posting an attack on someone without the least bit of effort to find out what he actually said. Regardless of whether your secondary sources happened to be on the right track, this is despicable. You do not, simply do not have enough information to slander someone without finding out your facts at first hand. That’s how rumours, gossip and insults get spread for no good reason.

    It is also exactly the same mistake you made in the “Men’s weekend” episode (and other times before that): publicly decrying something without bothering to check your facts at source, and so needlessly insulting good people who have been made in the image of God (James 3:9 if you actually check references anymore). The pity is that you apparently haven’t learned anything from it, since you’ve done it again. You may get a kick out of calling time on oppression and setting the captives free, but you need to take a serious look at taming your tongue and not publishing unhelpful, inaccurate and damaging rubbish about people. If you want to say something against someone, their own words are the only acceptable standard, nothing else will do.

    • 12. Graham Martin  |  Saturday, 16th January 2010 at 16:52 UTC

      Greg, I think you’re massively over-reacting.

      In the so-called “Men’s Weekend episode” (oh dear, c’mon, where should I have capitalised in that?), the only reason it got that name was because everyone rushed to defend the Men’s Weekend, whilst everyone completely ignored the point about the choice of preachers, or indeed the Men’s Societies at other Universities. This led myself and others to wonder whether there was element of distraction going on, as no one ever really addressed the topic of the debate. From my perspective, something similar appears to be happening here.

      What I’d really love to see you do is explain how this is “unhelpful, inaccurate and damaging rubbish”. You have simply failed to do this. Did Lord Carey not sign a statement that asks politicians to bow to the desires of the far right in limiting immigration, either out of the belief that this would curtail immigration, or because he wants to preserve “Christian Nationhood” within Britain, something which we can have a long debate about the real existence of. Be prepared to debate the issues, and stop behaving little better than a common-and-garden blog-comment troll.

  • 13. Greg  |  Monday, 18th January 2010 at 12:23 UTC

    Graham, this is very simple.

    Regardless of the facts of any particular case, you do not, simply do not mount a public, personal attack on anyone without a cast-iron case. Hear say is not good enough, secondary sources aren’t good enough, you need their own unedited words. For me, the major issue is your methodology. I wouldn’t want anyone to dish me based on the way someone else misrepresented me, and I doubt you would either. Therefore, don’t do it to other people. Simple.


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