Archbishop’s anger over the Coalition policies ‘no one voted for’

Published 09 June 2011
The Archbishop of Canterbury has accused the Coalition of pushing through policies that no one voted for.

Writing in New Statesman magazine, Dr Rowan Williams went as far as to question the democratic legitimacy.

He singled out David Cameron’s health and education reforms for particular criticism.

“The comprehensive reworking of the Education Act 1944 that is now going forward might well be regarded as a proper matter for open probing in the context of election debates,” he said.

The Archbishop claimed there was a feeling of “anxiety and anger” among voters, as well “indignation” over the lack of “proper public argument”.

“With remarkable speed, we are being committed to radical, long-term policies for which no one voted,” he said.

“At the very least, there is an understandable anxiety about what democracy means in such a context.

“Government badly needs to hear just how much plain fear there is around such questions at present.”

Education Secretary Michael Gove’s free school reforms were passed through Parliament last summer on a rapid timetable previously used only for emergency anti-terrorism laws.

The Archbishop’s unusually harsh criticism came in an article written for the latest edition of New Statesman magazine, which he guest edited.

In it, he also dismissed the Prime Minister’s Big Society initiative as a “painfully stale” slogan that was viewed with “widespread suspicion”.

His comments were met with anger by Tory backbencher Roger Gale.

“For him, as an unelected member of the upper house and as an appointed and unelected primate to criticise the Coalition Government as undemocratic and not elected to carry through its programme is unacceptable,” Gale told Sky News.

Regarding the Archbishop’s comments on the Big Society, he said: “I would have expected that the leading cleric of my church would wish to get behind and encourage such an endeavour and for Dr Williams to dismiss this as ‘stale’ and to present it as a cost-cutting exercise is, frankly, offensive.”

The Archbishop said he hoped his article in the left-leaning magazine would “spark some livelier debate”.

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