Gordon Brown has made an overtly religious call for a new world order based on the ‘deep moral sense’ shared by all faiths.
Making the first speech by a serving Prime Minister at St Paul’s Cathedral in London, he quoted scripture as he urged people to unite to forge a new ‘global society’.
The Prime Minister argued that through all faiths, traditions and heritages runs a ‘single powerful modern sense demanding responsibility from all and fairness to all’.
He quoted the Christian doctrine of ‘do to others what you would have them do unto you’ and highlighted similar principles in Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and Sikhism.
‘They each and all reflect a sense that we share the pain of others, and a sense that we believe in something bigger than ourselves – that we cannot be truly content while others face despair, cannot be completely at ease while others live in fear, cannot be satisfied while others are in sorrow,’ he said.
‘We all feel, regardless of the source of our philosophy, the same deep moral sense that each of us is our brother and sisters’ keeper . . . we cannot and will not pass by on the other side when people are suffering and when we have it within our power to help.’
He went on to suggest the world economy and society should be rebuilt around a Zulu word for hope – themba – which is also an acronym for ‘there must be an alternative’.
The speech was an extraordinary break from his predecessor Tony Blair, whose spin doctor Alastair Campbell famously declared that ‘we don’t do God’.
At Westminster it was also seen as high risk for a Government mired in allegations of sleaze to put morality and faith at the centre of its political and economic message.
Mr Brown, asked about his decision to discuss religion so openly, declared: ‘I think politicians have got to be very careful that they don’t turn out to try to be bishops.
‘But what we do and what we say reflects the views that we have, the belief we hold, the faith we were brought up in and the faith we believe in.’
Mr Brown, whose father was a minister in the Church of Scotland, is not a regular churchgoer, but aides said last night that he believed in God. The Prime Minister, on a platform with his Australian counterpart Kevin Rudd and the Bishop of London Richard Chartres, admitted unsupervised financial markets had ‘crossed moral boundaries’.
He said market forces should be replaced by those of the ‘heart’ because it was now clear they could ‘become the enemy of the good society’.
‘We can now see that markets cannot self-regulate but they can self-destruct,’ he added. Critics said Mr Brown undermined his high moral tone by injecting some low politics into his address.
He claimed those that would ‘do nothing’ and let the recession ‘run its course’ – his traditional attack on the Tories – ‘demean our humanity’.
The Prime Minister also raised eyebrows by claiming he had been arguing for ‘some time’ that there are limits to markets.
For more than a decade, Labour enthusiastically championed the ‘light touch’ regulation of the City, now blamed for letting bankers take massive risks.
Speaking to a congregation of 2,000 faith and City leaders, charity workers and schoolchildren, Mr Brown again dodged calls to apologise for his role in the financial crisis.
‘I have always said I take full responsibility for my actions,’ he declared. ‘
But I also know that this crisis is global in source and global in scale. I believe that unsupervised globalisation of our financial markets did not only cross national boundaries – it crossed moral boundaries too.’
The Prime Minister said financial institutions and markets must in future operate around the ‘ enduring virtues’ of everyday life.
‘Our financial system must be founded on the very same values that are at the heart of our family lives,’ he said.