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Church had "deep hostility" to Margaret Thatcher's government, files show

Wed 30 Dec 2015
By Antony Bushfield

The Church of England was accused of having a "deep hostility" towards the policy of Margaret Thatcher's government, newly released documents show.

The Church of England was accused of having a "deep hostility" towards the policy of Margaret Thatcher's government, newly released documents show.

Files released by the National Archives in Kew have unveiled Downing Street's reaction to a report commissioned by the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Runcie (pictured), in December 1985.

The Faith In The City report was regarded a landmark event, sparking intense public debate about the role of the Church in society and the impact of Thatcherism at a time of inner-city breakdown and perceived rising inequality.

It highlighted the Government's "dogmatic and inflexible" economic policies and the "unacceptable" effects of high unemployment.

The newly released files document how Brian Griffiths, the head of the No 10 policy unit, said it showed "a deep hostility to government policy and the philosophy on which it is based".

He also accused the Church of adopting a "Marxist analysis" of society.

"The essence of Marxist analysis is that economic inequality in capitalist society is the result of class conflict, the bourgeoisie versus the proletariat," he wrote in a memorandum to Mrs Thatcher.

"The report analyses the problems of 'poverty', 'powerlessness' and 'polarisation' in similar terms; namely the exploitation of 'the poor' (15 million) by 'comfortable Britain' (the rest).

"There are many examples where the report goes out of its way to emphasise the structure of society being the cause of poverty."

Elsewhere, another member of the policy unit, Hartley Booth, was also unhappy at the Church.

He wrote to the PM: "The report is the unwitting dupe of the extreme Left.

"The Church should learn how Lenin intended that a prime target of attack in a capitalist society should be the police."

The Church of England declined to comment.


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