URC minister writes to PM: "People are scared of what will happen ..."
An open letter to the Prime Minister from a United Reformed Church minister has been shared more than 30,000 times on Facebook ...
An open letter to the Prime Minister from a United Reformed Church minister has been shared more than 30,000 times on Facebook, reports Ekklesia ...
In his letter, the Rev Mike Walsh (pictured), United Reformed Church minister in the Chorlton and Whalley Range areas in Manchester, called on David Cameron, as he prepares for a new term of government, to try to understand how life looks and how it is lived in places where people are scared – “Scared of what your policies will do to our communities and families. Scared of what will happen to our health service and our schools. Scared of losing our family homes for the sake of a few quid saving from the bedroom tax, or not being able to heat our home and have enough left to buy food.”
The letter was shared on Facebook following the results of the general election and soon went viral – Mr Walsh posted the letter on Facebook at 1am on Saturday 8 May, and by 12 noon on Sunday morning, it had been shared 31,606 times.
The Rev John Proctor, the URC’s General Secretary, said: “Mike Walsh writes about places and people he knows. His aim is to be prophetic and positive, as he asks for a wider vision of the needs and hurts of all our people to inform those who lead our nation and write our laws.”
Commenting on the positive public response to his letter, Mr Walsh, said: “My words have clearly touched a nerve, and I’m touched and delighted by that. I wanted to express my fears about the new government and thought the best way to do this was to write directly to David Cameron.
"He has already made clear his commitment to 'one nation' conservatism and I hope that, as part of this commitment, he will make it a priority, to accept my invitation and visit Manchester, to meet me and some of the people who have been affected by his policies to date, and the ones to come.”
The letter read:
Dear Prime Minister,
I don't know if you will ever read this, but I have some things I wish to say to you.
You have won the General Election and command a majority in the House of Commons, and as such will feel you have a legitimate mandate to govern. However, you must also know that you don't command a majority of the British people.
Although our political views are very much at odds on many issues, I'm willing to believe that you are a good man, as sure of your ideals as I am of mine, and believe your plan is what's best for us all. You said today that you will govern for the whole country and bring back together that which has clearly fractured. I hope you will.
But Prime Minister, though you can obviously see your party did not win the confidence of Scotland and huge swathes of the north of England, I'm not sure your party quite understands why. It's not because we're all 'loony-left' or extremists and nationalists, it's because so many of us are scared. Scared of what your policies will do to our communities and families. Scared of what will happen to our health service and our schools. Scared of losing our family homes for the sake of a few quid saving from the bedroom tax, or not being able to heat our home and have enough left to buy food.
I don't disagree with you that the best way out of poverty is to work, nor do I think that people should get something for nothing and expect the tax-payer to support people indefinitely if they are able to work. Who would think that that was ok and fair?
But your party's policies on these issues, couched in terms of reducing the deficit and balancing the books, don't seem to take into account the social and human cost of such actions. The country isn't a business, it's its people. All its people. And you are everyone's Prime Minister whether we voted for you or not.
You said today you will govern for everyone and unite the country. I hope you do. But to be able to do so you need to make it a priority in your first 100 days, to spend time in Scotland visiting people on zero hours contracts. Come to Manchester and talk with those who have been sanctioned for having a spare room, but have nowhere else to go. Go to Liverpool and meet people with disabled dependents who can't afford even one nanny, or to Newcastle and talk to people still living in poverty due to the demise of the coal industry. Spend a week or two living on the minimum wage, or volunteer in a food bank for a whole day.
Then Prime Minister you might begin to understand the cost of your policies from the other side, to see people as more than their net contribution to the economy, or as deliberate drains on the system. If you do that, then maybe you can heal some of the fractures in our society. Without this I just don't believe you can see just how crucial these issues are.
So please Prime Minister, leave Westminster for a few hours a week and truly strive to govern for all of us.
The Rev Mike Walsh
The United Reformed Church