27 November 2014, The Tablet

Catholic Social Teaching too radical for politicians, says Labour MP

The man in charge of Labour’s policy review, Jon Cruddas, said this week that the party’s leaders are nervous of taking up the new direction that would be required to implement Catholic Social Teaching (CST).

Mr Cruddas, a Catholic and a critic of New Labour who sees CST as key to the future of politics, said some Labour figures regard its ideas as “too big”.

He was speaking after the annual lecture at the Christian think tank, Theos, in London at which the political economist and journalist, Will Hutton, identified CST as providing the ideas that would give a moral dimension to economic policy and further the common good. He said what was needed was a twentyfirst century Companies Act that would require firms not to make shareholder dividend their highest priority but also take account of employees and society in general.

Mr Cruddas said Labour lacked confidence after only four general election wins in the last 50 years and was tempted not to do anything that might damage their chances of victory in the election next May. Asked by the presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Sarah Montague, who chaired the event, how Ed Miliband responds when he advocates CST, Mr Cruddas said that some in the Labour Party felt it was “too big” and preferred to play safe. “They are saying ‘Why not keep our moves short and get away with a dodgy 1-0 away win,’” he added.

Mr Cruddas stressed that CST has traction in the Labour Party describing it as “fertile territory” between political parties and within political parties.

In his lecture, Mr Hutton, principal of Hertford College, Oxford, said he had chanced on “Catholic social policy” and believed it could address the “crisis of purpose” in Britain by promoting mass flourishing and the common good. He had said as much in a meeting with Pope Benedict XVI.

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