WHILST there was a real possibility that Britain would be invaded by the Nazis in 1940, Winston Churchill was consuming a considerable amount of champagne as well as whisky on a daily basis. He also probably ate in a week what would have fed five families in London’s East End for a month.
But if you had put this to a Briton in an air raid shelter at the time, he or she would not have been bothered. Why not? Because they knew that Churchill was not asking them to take any risk to their life or limb that he was not prepared to take himself. They knew that if Britain were invaded he would go down defending his country. He carried a revolver for this very purpose.
That appears to be the essential moral difference between Christian Britain’s political class and the post-1960s generation of rock-star-imitating politicians in Westminster. Of course, in peacetime conditions the latter cannot be blamed for not having a ‘stand or die’ opportunity to prove their mettle.
But the sense that the present political class are mainly self-serving is surely a major reason for the widespread public disillusion with them. This perception, fuelled by the MPs’ expenses scandal of 2009, surely turned into a howl of outrage when 17.4million British people defied the political establishment and voted to leave the European Union in 2016.
However people voted, there would seem to be a sense on both sides of the argument that the politicians themselves, with their taxpayer-guaranteed salary and housing packages, will be inured from any negative economic consequences that may result from Britain’s leaving the EU, if indeed it does. The politically correct elite in Westminster appears to live in an Elysium, like the Moscow political class used to under Soviet Communism.
What is the answer to this crisis of political credibility? It has to be a return to the Christian ethos of public service by which political leaders lead by moral example and are prepared to make personal sacrifices in pursuit of their calling, as Jesus Christ and his Apostles did in pursuit of theirs.
Unlike political correctness, this spiritual ethos cannot be imposed. If attempts were made to coerce individuals into it by peer group pressure or by sanctions, the result would be a hypocritical political class and therefore no enduring public benefit would ensue. This Christian ethos can be only voluntarily taken to heart.
Ultimately, it is inspired by the divine love of the Gospel, so beautifully summarised in John 3v16, one of The Comfortable Words at Holy Communion according to the Book of Common Prayer: ‘So God loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, to the end that all that believe in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.’