The Halo Halo! column from the May 2016 issue of the Socialist Standard
Margaret Thatcher used to lie awake at night and fantasise about ‘Victorian values’ and how, if only they could be reintroduced, the working class would learn to know their place. These days, however, since there are few cotton mills or coal mines remaining where small children in rags can be put to work for six days a week, or cheery young urchins for that matter, who for a crust of bread can be forced up chimneys to clear them of soot, it’s not an idea we hear so much about.
What we need now, we are told, are ‘Christian values’, and although there is some confusion, especially amongst those who recommend them, as to what they actually are, they probably amount to pretty much the same thing. And their big advantage is that they can be bandied about as the cure for everything from the perilous state of the NHS and the steel industry to street beggars.
So for David Cameron’s Easter message to the Tory faithful, delivered just after the Islamic terrorist bombing in Brussels, and another one targeting a children’s playground in Lahore even as he finished speaking, what better way to assure everyone that he, and God, were still in control than a rousing speech on good old ‘Christian values’?
We, in the UK, must ‘stand together and defend’ these values in the face of threats from terrorism he said. And he singled out ‘Responsibility, hard work, compassion and pride in working for the common good’ as the kind of values that Christians, or at least Tory ones, hold and are in danger of being blasted out of existence by Isis.
Had he consulted his bible, he would have found God held a whole range of very different values, and he didn’t hesitate to exercise them when dealing with anyone who annoyed him – the Amalakites, for example. He told Saul to ‘utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass’(1 Samuel. 15 v3-4).You can see where that other God, the ISIS one, gets his ideas from can’t you?
We can perhaps make allowances for Cameron’s shaky grasp of ‘Christian values’ though. Although he once described himself as being a ‘committed’ Christian, he admitted that he was only a ‘vaguely practising’ one, and was ‘full of doubts’ on the big issues.
One big issue he may have wrestled with would have been tax avoidance schemes for the rich, which only a few weeks ago he slammed as being ‘totally unacceptable’ and ‘morally wrong’.
Imagine his theological uncertainties when the ‘Panama Papers’ tax avoidance scandal came to light and it emerged that his father, whose fortune was estimated in the 2009 Sunday Times Rich List at £10 million, had made his fortune in offshore funds in Panama and Geneva, and that he, too had benefited from these.
Fortunately after much soul searching and examining his ‘Christian values’ he was able to explain that although such schemes for the rich may be slightly ‘totally unacceptable’ and perhaps even a tiny bit ‘morally wrong’, they were perfectly legal, and anyway, his father’s financial affairs were ‘a private matter’.