So Bradford Council and the General Synod of the Church of England are agreed on one thing at least: Big is beautiful. In contrast with the vision of the 1970s economist E.F. Schumacher, whose book “Small is Beautiful – a study of economics as if people mattered”, which inspired the beginnings of the ecological movement, they seem dedicated to gigantism.
It’s easy to decode the ambitions of Bradford councillors, who want to create a megalopolis of Bradford, Kirklees, Calderdale, Wakefield, Leeds and York councils. It’s simple: bigger jobs for local boys. Having made such a mess of our city that work and workers are departing in droves, they now want to extend their failed remit even further.
Why our local church leaders, and their national colleagues on the General Synod, want to establish a super-diocese for Bradford, Leeds, Wakefield and Ripon, is harder to understand. Since there will still be local bishops (as at present) for each of the super-diocese’s amalgamated areas, all the new structures seem to achieve is to superimpose an extra level of control. As no doubt there will now be some undignified jockeying for the position of super-bishop, the whole scheme seems to be guaranteed to sow dissension between those who are supposed to be in communion together.
Jesus said that where two or three are gathered together he would be with us. Yes, brothers and sisters, small is beautiful. He said it.
While Malcolm Chase’s reminder of the fight of the Chartists to extend the democratic rights of the working class (M Star, July 15) is to be welcomed, since his article is inspired by an exhibition at the heart of the Parliamentary establishment, it is not surprising that he does not go into too much detail about the more militant wing of the Chartist movement.
In response to Parliament’s rejection of the Charter, there was a call for a general strike, but the publishing demagogue Feargus O’Connor opposed it in his influential Northern Star newspaper.The Chartists struck anyway, marching from town to town, knocking out the boiler plugs in the factories which would not join them.
Three thousand drilled in the moors around Wilsden, West Yorkshire, under a black flag. In Bradford they beat the police in a straight fight.
Lancashire, Yorkshire, Cheshire, the Potteries, Warwickshire, Wales, workers as far north as Aberdeen were about to join when the Northern Star denounced the strike as a government provocation: Fifteen hundred strikers were arrested and 79 of them transported to Australia.
Nevertheless, the Chartist slogan, “Peacefully if we may, violently if we must” was echoed by Lenin in 1918 when he proposed a twin-track approach to revolutionary change, both inside and outside of the Parliamentary process.
Such a call is unlikely to find a voice in the self-appointed Mother of Parliaments.
Both letters were edited before publication.
- Synod to consider ‘super diocese’ in shake-up (yorkshirepost.co.uk)
- Church of England approves new Diocese of Leeds (christiantoday.com)
- Yorkshire ‘Super diocese’ given go-ahead as Synod agrees to shake-up (yorkshirepost.co.uk)
- 16th July: The Big Ideas – EF Schumacher’s ‘small is beautiful’ (12 min) (curatedaudio.wordpress.com)