FaithWorld

Archbishop of Canterbury attacks UK government policies as radical

June 9, 2011

(Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams at Canterbury Cathedral, April 4, 2010/Toby Melville)

Britain’s coalition government has embarked on “radical, long-term policies for which no one voted,” causing anxiety and fear, the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said in an article on Thursday. The comments are his most outspoken against the year-old Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government.

“With remarkable speed, we are being committed to radical, long-term policies for which no one voted,” the spiritual leader of the 80-million strong Anglican Communion wrote. “At the very least, there is an understandable anxiety about what democracy means in such a context.”

The archbishop’s comments came in an edition of the weekly New Statesman that he was invited to edit. Among other contributors are UK Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks and the “Church of England atheist” Philip Pullman.

The government has announced radical reforms of the National Health Service and education in its first year. Education Secretary Michael Gove has promoted a flagship policy of “free schools,” which would allow parents, teachers or charities in England to set up schools with taxpayers’ money.

Williams said the “comprehensive reworking” of the education system “might well be regarded as a proper matter for open probing in the context of election debates.”

The government also wants to shake-up the NHS, putting the 60 billion pound healthcare budget in the hands of family doctors. Before the election, Conservative leader David Cameron promised to stop the “top-down reorganisations of the NHS.”

“Government badly needs to hear just how much plain fear there is around such questions at present,” Williams wrote.

The archbishop also questioned Cameron’s “Big Society” agenda which seeks to get more people volunteering, which Williams described as “painfully stale,” suggesting it was “opportunistic” cover for spending cuts.

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