CSM asked for questions to put to the candidates for Chair. I'll post my answers up here in a series of posts. If you came here via the hustings, apologies for the repetition but do scroll down and see what else I have been discussing on this blog.
One question asked:
If elected what would you do to renew and promote socialism in the Christian Socialist Movement and, more importantly, in the Labour Party?
I would continue the work I began over three years ago when I started our consultation on CSM’s values. Our first value states that we believe ‘that the Kingdom of God finds its expression in democratic socialist policies’.
I am particularly proud that in the new statement of values, which members overwhelming endorsed in a ballot last year, we have affirmed our belief that everyone is created in the image of God and that all have equal worth. All our policies and actions must stem from this radical belief.
Having now agreed what we stand for, we need to build on these values by developing rigorous policies based on them. We started to do this in November at the executive committee and you can see the results so far at the CSM website (www.thecsm.org.uk/policydiscussion.html). The CSM Chair needs to encourage and motivate members to participate in this process.
You can also see where I am coming from at http://www.stephenbeer.com/ .
There is no point in discussing policy for its own sake. We also need to promote it. With my experience in the Labour Party I am well-placed to do this, whether privately or publicly. Sometimes we will be pushing at an open door. At other times, we will have to remember that we too are politicians and we must use our skills to win support. I will use my experience to ensure CSM has a high public profile and is not afraid to challenge a Labour government when appropriate.
I will continue to encourage CSM branches to affiliate to Labour constituency parties. In this way, CSM gets to participate alongside party members and trade unions in policy debates, locally and nationally. We also get a say in selecting parliamentary candidates. We will input into policy forums and consultations. We will hold seminars and write articles.
If I am your Chair, CSM will tirelessly work to promote equality and stand up for the poor and socially excluded.