It is a challenge to read and digest an Easter message from a politician who just over a week ago spoke about chocolate eggs as though they were a matter of national importance whilst in the middle of selling weapons of mass warfare to a foreign nation. Saudi Arabia has an appalling human rights record and has killed and mutilated many innocent men, women and children 1,400 miles from where Jesus was put to death nearly 2000 years ago and the sale of such weapons is far more damaging than what to call a hunt for chocolate eggs. However that is not the only challenge inherent in Mrs May’s speech which unecessarily focuses on something that is deeply political and deeply divisive in our own nation. According to the newspapers which have reproduced parts of her speech our Prime Minister said
“This year, after a period of intense debate over the right future for our country, there is a sense that people are coming together and uniting behind the opportunities that lie ahead. For at heart, this country is one great union of people and nations with a proud history and a bright future. And as we face the opportunities ahead – the opportunities that stem from our decision to leave the EU, and embrace the world – our shared interests, our shared ambitions and, above all, our shared values can and must bring us together.”
Based on my own observations (for what they are worth) there is no indications that those who still oppose our departure from the EU (including myself) and those who believe too much time has already elapsed since the referendum have come closer together. There are certainly people who are unmoved by the issue and some whose views have changed since the vote, but I see no indications of a united nation except in the sense that we are now finally being taken through a process that has Parliamentary approval despite the kicking and screaming on the part of Mrs May and her Cabinet in the eight months between the referendum and the parliamentary votes.
In one small section of the speech, Mrs May and I are in complete agreement: “this country is one great union of people and nations with a proud history” but my reading of our history is that we have always been welcoming to people arriving with peaceful intentions from other nations. Arguing to close our borders or to use overseas residents as bargaining pieces in a negotiation is so far away from the history of our union, that the Government should either change tactics or resign immediately. There have always been some people in our nation who are xenophobic and racist but they are relatively few in numbers although I have met a number over many years. There are many others who feel uncertain about immigration and who have suffered at the hands of unscrupulous employers or been influenced by evil newspaper editors and deceitful politicians. These people have become engaged in the arguments to oppose immigration even though most of them have benefited enormously from people entering our nation to work here. The fact is that our departure from the EU is not something that is consistent with any of the theology or church teaching I have studied, indeed the reverse is true, so for me this Easter messages has an extremely hollow ring to it, not dissimilar to many of the hollow chocolate eggs that are being eaten right now!