This culture – compounded by a febrile atmosphere in the House of Commons at times of tumult – explains why totemic societal issues, like social care and the supply of affordable housing, have been inadequately addressed for so long.
As Theresa May found to her cost in the 2017 election, she and the Tories had to capitulate when it emerged that their manifesto plans on care – albeit devised very cack-handedly by her then aides – were going to financially penalise the very families who she was asking to vote for her.
However these challenges cannot continue to be ducked if Britain is to emerge from the Covid pandemic as a fairer and more equal society – the primary objective of all politicians and policy-makers – and the Most Reverend Stephen Cottrell is to be credited for using his first year in York to make the case for a new vision for the country.
Equally, his own mission – both personal and pastoral – is a formidable one. For, while the advent of online services during the lockdown has witnessed a reawakening of local churches, it has also seen Marcus Rashford emerge as the most influential policy campaigner in Britain.
And while the Archbishop says it is because the footballer’s humility “resonates with the ordinary decency of most people”, it is also a challenge for the Church if it is, once again, going to spreadhead the national debates that it led and shaped in the past.
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