Tuesday 9 November 2010

Politics Vs Religion

I was actually a little surprised with the exuberance of an attack Grant Shapps and Lord Freud launched at the Archbishop of Canterbury yesterday.

Normally when politicians respond to critical comments from the church, they go down the “they’re entitled to their opinion, but I don’t agree” route.

But Freud and Shapps (a good name for a detective TV show if ever I heard one) went for a full on tag-team attack during a briefing on housing benefit reform.

It followed comments made by Archbishop Rowan Williams recently that housing benefit reforms would lead to “social zoning” with low-income families getting pushed out of expensive areas.

After Williams’ words were put to Shapps he said it was “completely untrue” and “not based on fact”.

He went on: “It’s completely untrue and I'm afraid it is borne out of not recognising all of the facts and jumping on a bandwagon that says ‘oh no this must be terrible because it’s going to mean change’.”

Lord Freud was then tagged in: “I think it’s fair to say there has been in some of the commentary, elements of hysteria and exaggeration and I think that's deeply unhelpful – largely because it frightens people who've got absolutely no reason to be frightened.

“I think people should look at these – what are rather reasonable measures – and not stir up particularly nonsensical claims about the consequences.”

I never really thought Williams was one for a political punch up, but with his bishops sauntering off to Rome a good fist fight with a couple of Tories might be a handy diversion.

Let’s hope he gets a chance to speak his mind to Freud in the House of Lords soon.