We have just become a less generous country and it is being celebrated as a victory.
Cameron’s hard negotiation has been about restricting people’s movements and being less generous to those who dare to want to come to this country. The great EU debate will now move into full swing with both in and out campaigns seeking to prove that they can be the most macho for Britain – who will be best at keeping out the “them” we don’t want? Only nice, wealthy, well-educated migrants please.
At a time of one of the greatest mass movements of people in history, the initial outpouring of sympathy has been replaced by fear and suspicion. Who are these people? Are they taking advantage, or even bringing us harm? A country that has been forged and enriched by a long history of migrations wants to pull up the drawbridge.
A government inspired culture of cuts engenders a sense that we are resource poor and so must protect ourselves from the undeserving poor especially if they are not from this country. Low taxes are assumed to be a virtue even though the care and health services are creaking. Not spending, except on defence, is seemingly the new sign of good government.
The private sector is presumed good and the public sector bad. Profit not public good is the only motivation that counts. So, for example, schools are forced to become academies as local authorities are slimmed down and local democratic accountability for schools becomes the domain of faceless, unelected educational czars. We complain of too much power in Brussels whilst quietly eroding our own local government.
And the Church of England, the last hope of an alternative approach adopts, under the guise of Reform and Renewal, a new pseudo market-speak that in the name of the Spirit threatens to knock the spirit out of the Church. The eccentric, the maverick and the non-conforming that bring their own unique creativity are fading in the face the assessed, the measured and the goal-focused who will make us all evangelical for growth, in a sad echo of the culture of the times.
A cold wind is blowing across the country, leaving many alienated in its wake. It has to be hoped that this time of cold comfort will not prevail and that we will find a kinder, gentler spirit to once again warm our nation.