Saturday, 23 October 2010


No, I haven't got something stuck in my throat - I have been prondering the future effects of the Comprehensive Spending Review. 

As I sat and watched Gideon unwrap his plans I wondered what the real-time results would be. I noted, with some amusement that the word 'cut' was habitually replaced with the word 'saving' - prestidigitation perhaps but a shroud to the truth nonetheless. They are savings only for the Government, but without exception cuts for the rest of us. Euphemistic speechmaking at its best!

Anyhoo - I didn't want to become party political here so I won't. My role as priest is to watch and wait for the effects of these marvellous savings to become reality for the people among whom I work and to walk with them as they feel the pinch in their own way. 490,000 lost jobs - wow - that is two-thirds of the population of Buckinghamshire!

It seems to me that simple measures are the way forward, and this is but one example (not a comprehensive savings review) - and it surrounds the redistribution of wealth.

Using retail as an example, I turn my attention to Tesco. I am an example of Tescofied Man; a one-stop shopper, preferably online, for all my family's needs. Shame on me! I wonder what positive effect there would be on our local society if we all relied more on the local traders for our produce (lest we forget that it is still the harvest season). If I gave my bakery business to the High Street baker, my meat needs to the High Street butcher, my fruit and veg needs to the High Street greengrocers - and so on. I know Tesco employs lots of people, but employees-per-customer ratios for Tesco must be far lower than those for my local Butcher etc. Soon, many people will need jobs, and if we allow our shopping pounds to be more widely distributed, I wonder if more people will find some greater sense of security, that more jobs might be created somewhere. Maybe I am wrong, but I don't think so. 

For me, my Tescofication is a product of over-busy living, convenience and yes, laziness. I need to rethink how I live, and yes, even spend just a pound or two more on what I buy. Surely it would be better for every shopper to spend a tenner a week more on their needs and for that money to more more widely distributed not among shareholders, but among the business stakeholders in their own community. I must also commit to this on an ethical level too, and the excesses of some Fairtradeism might have to be re-thought too. 

In short, we as Christians need to support, first and foremost, our communities and neighbours. It will cost us time, cash and convenience, but in an age where the word 'saving' means 'redundancy' then we have little choice.


  1. Father, I applaud your thoughts as to using the high street and local businesses, with which I heartily agree.

    I pity you preface it with suspicious words about the government's policy. Nothing wrong with that in itself - but you then claim you don't want to be party political!

    I hope you won't mind if I point out that George Osborne (who chooses not to use the name Gideon; it might be fair to respect that) would not regard the "savings" as merely savings to government. He regards them as savings for taxpayers, and in the end as the "saving" of the economic future of the country as a whole. He might not be right, but he is not shrouding the truth as he believes it.

    I enjoy your blog, not least for the constant effort to see things from others' perspective. I think that slipped on this one.

  2. I can be a little imp-like at times but please regard portions of my approach as being tongue-in-cheek. I think I also apply my own style to myself as well!
    I agree the cuts to spending needed to be made (and I offer no argument against them per se) - but rather it is my wish to seek to alleviate the pressures and pain that will ensue from them. I am also a taxpaying Christian who senses that I should be willing to pay more if it helps those in greater need than I (of which there are many, I acknowledge)

    This all said, thanks for reading, and thanks for challenging - I appreciate both in equal measure!

  3. A nice theory, and in an ideal world it would make perfect sense to buy from small local traders but first find your trader (as Mrs Beeton) definitely did not say.
    We no longer have bakers, greengrocers etc., as a species they disappeared long ago and many of us, however high-minded, accept gratefully the ease of buying most of our daily needs under one roof.
    Much as I dislike the idea of making yet more profit for Tesco shareholders I nevertheless appreciate the fact that shopping there leaves more of my very small income for other necessities.
    As to the proposed cuts, they come as no great surprise and I suspect that the increasing opposition to them from all quarters will cause the Government to modify some of them quite quickly. Let's hope so anyway!

  4. I wouldn't mind seeing Tesco make less profit and small retailers more. I think it is very hard for us to know how to act morally, and which actions to judge or approve in these times. For example, if Tesco lost profits, would they absorb that - or pass the costs on to their suppliers, and I hear they are pretty ruthless towards them anyhow?
    I have very grave doubts about the wisdom of the governments cuts and real fears about what it will mean, potentially for myself and also for many I know and for my children and young people generally.
    But, apart from protest,"wait and see" - and certainly pray and watch out for each other - is the only thing we can do for now.
    Thank you for this post, I didn't think it was one sided - or, if it was, I think that reflected the impossibility of knowing what to say or how to react given the many rights and wrongs, and possible pros and cons of these cuts. I see more cons than pros, in fact I suspect they will spell economic disaster and make losers and victims, often of the most vulnerable _ I would so love to be proved wrong!



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