The Christian Socialist Movement AGM is on Saturday.
Whatever the result of the election for Chair, this will of course be the end of my term as Vice Chair. Here is the text of my Vice Chair report:
This is my last report as one of CSM’s Vice Chairs. It has been a real privilege to hold this position and I have worked hard to undertake the responsibilities you placed upon me three years ago.
My main concern this year has been managing the values debate to its fruition. We debated the new statement at last year’s AGM and agreed by large majority to the change, after inserting a line supporting cooperation. The next step was a ballot of members. The result was announced in November, with approximately an 80% vote in favour.
Thank you to everyone who took part in the consultation over the preceding three years. It was vital that as many members as possible took part and together we have achieved something of which we can be proud. We have a really strong statement of what we stand for, with an emphasis on equality for the first time.
After the ballot result I was keen we should begin implementing our values. I led a discussion in our November Executive Committee on three policy areas. We have now posted the notes from these on the CSM website (http://www.thecsm.org.uk/) and are asking for input from members and supporters. The policy areas are: foreign policy; faith and politics; and what promotes good business.
Please do have a look and give us your views. The aim is to start with the values, and work out some principles for each policy area. From that will hopefully come specific policies. This will take time but is worth doing as it means we can offer more than soundbites and press releases in response to an issue (though they are useful too).
During the year I have continued to write as CSM Vice Chair on issues relating to faith and politics. In March 2006, Renewal (a Labour supporting journal) published a paper I wrote on religion and politics. I argued that Labour should draw on its Christian Socialist roots and engage more with faith. My follow-up paper is being published this month (see http://www.stephenbeer.com/).
The Guardian published a Response column from me in November, in which I argued for a secular (but not atheist) state in response to an article by Polly Toynbee. You can read it at www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,1926693,00.html . The Guardian published a letter over Christmas defending the role of faith in public life. I also had some articles in Tribune, covering issues including David Cameron and Afghanistan.
During Labour conference I represented CSM on Premier Christian Radio, putting forward a Christian Centre Left perspective on events. In January, I appeared as a guest on the Islam Channel on a ‘Question Time’ type show. I received a warm welcome – and some challenging questions!
Thank you to all the officers for their fellowship and friendship. We have been through some interesting and challenging times during our tenure. However together we have put CSM very much on the map and, I believe, served our members well. Thanks also to Andrew and Phil for their support.