A short open letter to Stephen Crabb, the new Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

Dear Stephen,

First of all, congratulations on your appointment as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. It’s a hugely important role, well earned by your years of hard work for your constituency and in government. Decisions that you make, and discussions that you contribute to, will have a massive effect on many lives.

Demonstrators On The Hardest Hit March Protest Against Government Cuts To Disability Benefits And Services

I don’t know whether you remember me, but we were members of the same church in Bermondsey for several years in the 1990s. We have mutual friends who know both of us well enough that they bring their familities to visit both you and me every year, and they always speak very highly of you.

So I know from my own experience and their comments that your Christianity is real: not a cynical stance to appeal to certian voters, but a deeply held conviction that motivates and directs your work. I know that you, like me, don’t take lightly the words of Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 25, verse 45: “I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me”.

It’s not my place to tell you what policies to enact. But I want to ask you this one thing. Would you please be very sure that your decisions are guided not by non-biblical proverbs like “God helps those who help themselves”, but by the words of Jesus? It pains me when I read David Cameron claiming that “the values of Easter and the Christian religion [include] hard work and responsibility” and “Easter is all about remembering the importance of change, responsibility, and doing the right thing for the good of our children”. We both know that the message of the cross is that God has blessed us even though we don’t deserve his blessing — not because of our “hard work” or “responsibility”.

So my suggestion would be that, in your new and very demanding job, you start each day by re-reading the parable of the sheep and goats.

Good luck!

12 responses to “A short open letter to Stephen Crabb, the new Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

  1. Isn’t he connected with some sort of dodgy “gay cure” organisation too? Whether or not that is the case, I’ll remain sceptical about him diverging from his boss’ rather nasty habit of persecuting the vulnerable until such a time as I see some evidence. I think the time for blindly hoping for the best is long gone.

  2. He’s in the newspapers as saying, “Any disabled person who is unable to work due to ill health or disability is in the support group of ESA. They are wholly unaffected by the change, as only those who are fit to work and actively seeking work are included in the work-related activity group.”

    Hmm. Either he’s extremely ignorant of the situation or he’s being entirely disingenuous. Neither situation strikes me as being at all adequate for the new head of the DWP, and I’m concerned that he’s made such a statement. Personally, I don’t think it shows a very Christian attitude: but then again, many self-styled Christians I’ve known don’t display a very Christian attitude, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. I still manage to be disappointed, though: maybe it’s an autism thing.

  3. Well, Vometia, let’s see what happens. We’d hope a Work and Pensions secretary would know these details, but of course he wasn’t the W&P secretary when he wrote this. I’m not going to pass judgement till I see how he actually performs in this role.

  4. We will see. I’m just a bit nervous as my previous experience of the DWP was bad enough that it involved having to get rather political about it; and it still seems to be a bit of a political football, to say the least…

  5. Initial signs look positive?

  6. I’ll give him a chance. Which is certainly an improvement on my mood yesterday: apologies for being a bit ranty. :/

  7. No worries, I know the feeling :-)

  8. Gavin: that seems not very fair: my understanding is that the lawsuit was already going on and he’s just inherited it from his predecessor. You can’t really expect him to abandon legal actions that are already in place in his first week on the job, however terrible they are, and in any case his not having done so doesn’t tell us much about his own opinions or intentions or likely future behaviour once he’s figured out what’s going on.

    (I’m not optimistic. But let’s not declare him to have failed before he’s actually got started.)

  9. If he tries to do anything else, Cameron will sack him. Except he won’t have to, because he’ll have scoped out someone ‘on message’ before hiring them. That’s just obvious, isn’t it?

  10. He seems to be in a bit of a no-win situation considering he’s trapped between being a decent person and doing Cameron and Osborne’s bidding. I’m curious to see which way he goes.

  11. Time passes. I must admit at this point I’m seriously thinking of renouncing my Christianity, because the overwhelming evidence is that most self-described Christians are complete shits. Crabb, IDS and Cameron are just the tip of the iceberg, and my faith isn’t strong enough to just keep on denying that it can co-exist with people like them.

    I managed to continue as a Christian after my experiences with the Community Church: I figured I could still be an independent Christian and I don’t need some ministry lecturing me and ministers demanding my compliance and my money while they ignore me. I’ve endured the awfulness of the American Conservative Christians persecuting anyone who doesn’t conform to their specific world-view. And so on. But I just can’t do it any more. My faith is there, but I’m broken and suicidal, and the people I feel I should be able to rely on are the quickest and most enthusiastic to crap on me.

    I guess Crabb was just the final straw. Yes, I’ve just received another ESA50, which should pretty much be renamed the Workhouse Admission Form, and can’t really deal with this sort of dreadfulness any more. If this is Christianity, I want no part of it any longer. I was a Christian from 1984 to 2016. More fool me.

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