Letter: Christian and ethical socialism are not the same thing

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The Independent Online
Sir: Christian socialism has a history more complicated than suggested by A. H. Halsey. Its origins are to be found a generation earlier than Richard Tawney and his contemporaries at the end of the last century. These formed a 'second wave' of those who sought to address the injustices of society from a Christian standpoint.

In the 1840s F. D. Maurice and a number of other significant figures, including Charles Kingsley, J. M. Ludlow, Thomas Hughes and Charles Mansfield, became sympathetic to the aspirations of the Chartist movement and were proud to be known as Christian socialists. Their commitment to the efforts of the Chartists in 1848 ('the year of revolutions') to secure social and political rights for the working classes earned them the disfavour and mistrust of the English establishment.

A touching reminder of this tradition was recently demonstrated by the placing of a posy of flowers as a tribute to John Smith at the foot of the statue of Charles Kingsley at Bideford by a socialist from Merseyside.

Yours faithfully,


Basingstoke, Hampshire