It is not often that the title of this post can be applied to bishops of the Church of England. Usually, they hit the headlines for woolly minded theology which leads to them doubting some fundamental tenet of faith.
Not today, however. If the Bishop of Manchester had been asked for a definition of socialism, he could not have put it better than this:
They [Her Majesty's Government] believe that ‘money can answer all of the problems and has encouraged greed and a love of money that the Bible says is the root of all evil. It is morally corrupt because it encourages people to get into a lifestyle of believing they can always get what they want’.
Socialists love poor people. As Silvio Berlusconi apparently said, that is why socialist governments create more of them. Christians also love the poor. However, anyone who claims to be a 'Christian socialist' must be very careful indeed. Christ says that it is my duty to love my neighbour and my duty to help the poor. Socialists tell me that it is someone else's responsibility.
Socialists say that we should have faith in the state to know best, rather than faith in God. We should trust social workers to look after children, rather than parents. We should trust the state to spend our hard-earned taxes better than we could. All problems can be solved better by throwing taxpayers' money at them rather than through faith and prayer.
All of these ideas are deeply unChristian. Yes, we need social welfare; yes, we need social workers to look out for abused children; yes, governments need to raise taxes. However, as Margaret Thatcher said, the bottom line has to be the individual. It is the individual which is at the heart of the state and the individual who must face the King on Judgement Day.
The present Government has wasted billions on the New Deal, which has left more young people unemployed than when it began. It has wasted billions fighting a war in Iraq which was based on lies, has destabilised the region and has led to Christians in the Middle East being persecuted and an increase in the power of the Muslim extremists who used to be as much Saddam Hussein's enemies as they are ours. The Government has wasted billions on the National Health Service: at least, according to the exponential rise in people claiming disability benefits, which costs even more billions. Why does spending money on the NHS make people sicker? Because the scroungers know a gravy train when they see it. The Government has fiddled figures to claim it has raised children out of poverty, whilst doing damn all for those at the very bottom of the heap.
My thoughts and prayers are with all those who are unemployed or soon to become so. I look forward, however, to 100+ Labour MPs joining them in the dole queue whenever Bottler Brown plucks up the courage to call a General Election. I shall have somewhat less sympathy for them.