Letter: Golden age of consensus

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The Independent Online
Sir: Fifty years ago was certainly no golden age (leading article 6 July). Britain was bankrupt after a six-year war, but let's try forty years ago, when the post-war cross-party agreement on the welfare state and full employment had something to show.

In 1955 there were only 232,000 unemployed (1.1 per cent) and 192,000 houses were built for local authorities. The average rate of inflation for the previous three years was just under 3 per cent. Personal taxes were high, but there were no beggars on the streets or either teenagers or the mentally unstable sleeping rough.

In England and Wales the number of divorces was only 7 per cent of the number of marriages. The 1955 records show only 30 murders. The streets were safe and there was not enough mugging to be recorded.

Now we have abandoned all that for the "permissive society", where, to quote the Book of Judges, "Everyone did that which was right in their own eyes". The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. There are now nearly ten times as many unemployed. Half the marriages now end in divorce, leaving half today's children with that undeserved trauma.

It is hardly surprising that if we are now told by our intellectual leaders that there is no life after death and certainly no judgement for what we get away with here, that we grab what we can, while we can, however we can and hold on to it hard. Even the Labour Party have abandoned any commitments either to full employment or to expenditure which would raise taxes, however slightly, on the rich to look after the sick, the poor and homeless or to bring our education up to the level of our competitors. The second great commandment of the Christian faith is that we should love our neighbour as ourself. We forget that at our peril.

Sir FRED CATHERWOOD

President, The Evangelical Alliance

London SE11

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