Monday, August 09, 2010

Rowan Williams takes words of Margaret Thatcher out of context

How should churches respond to the Big Society - Rowan Williams | charitiesparliament

"The Archbishop, like so many others, takes Mrs Thatcher’s words out of context. The full quote is first used in a speech to the Conservative Party Conference on 9th October 1987.

They’re casting their problem on society. And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first. It’s our duty to look after ourselves and then, also to look after our neighbour. People have got the entitlements too much in mind, without the obligations.

S he later echoed the sentiments in an interview for Woman’s Own on 31st October for which I think there are two different versions- unc lear which was published. “I am homeless, the Government must house me!” and so they are casting their problems on society and who is society? There is no such thing! There are individual men and women and (Version 1) there are families and no government can do anything except through people and people look to themselves first. It is our duty to look after ourselves and then also to help look after our neighbour and life is a reciprocal business and people have got the entitlements too much in mind without the obligations, because there is no such thing as an entitlement unless someone has first met an obligation and it is, I think, one of the tragedies in which many of the benefits we give, which were meant to reassure people that if they were sick or ill there was a safety net and there was help, that many of the benefits which were meant to help people who were unfortunate … But it went too far. If children have a problem, it is society that is at fault. There is no such thing as society. (Version 2) There is living tapestry of men and women and people and the beauty of that tapestry and the quality of our lives will depend upon how much each of us is prepared to take responsibility for ourselves and each of us prepared to turn round and help by our own efforts those who are unfortunate…. I would add that a society which depends on validation by the state is not a true society at all. The language of Mr Cameron is all too reminiscent of the little remembered attempt by Lyndon Johnson to imitate FDR’s quasi-totalitarian New Deal, the Great Society. "

Charities Parliament were not charitable enough to publish this contribution to the debate, so here it is!

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