Cristina Odone finds everyone doing God

Ali Campbell is wrong: these days, everyone is doing God, especially Tony

When the PM was asked during a recent Vanity Fair interview about his faith, up popped the spin-meister Alastair Campbell snarling: "We don't do God."

Don't do God? What planet is Ali on? God is at the very heart of Downing Street - at least the bit that is behind the door marked No 10.

From his pre-1997, card-carrying Christian socialist credentials to his allusions to the Gospel and a "higher authority" in interviews and speeches, Tony Blair has made God a central figure in his life. Indeed, it sometimes seems as if Blair can't get enough of the Deity - he attends Catholic and Anglican services both; he sends his children to Catholic schools; he visits the Pope; he constantly refers to good and evil.

Cherie's hunger for Godly things goes beyond typical Liverpudlian Catholic piety to include crystals, mud massages and chanting; she's into New Ageism as well as the catechism, into Carole Caplin as well as Christ.

This God-bothering by the First Family fills the resolutely secularist liberals - the very same who queue up for Mass in order to ensure their child a place at the local church school - with fear and loathing. They hate the idea of a government entwined in moral dictums or rooted in religious tenets. They forget that it was precisely this kind of religiously inspired idealism that shaped British socialism: the 19th-century vision of R H Tawney, Charles Gore, William Temple, dedicated to service of the poor, drew its inspiration from the New Testament as much as the new trade unions.

The chattering classes choose to ignore this legacy - but what they can't remain blind to is the way that across the ocean, George Bush and the neo-cons are, almost to a man and woman, practising Christians or Jews; they hold prayer meetings, speak of God as their guide, and talk of Israel as the Promised Land, whose security must be paramount, in order for the Scriptures to be fulfilled.

Beyond America, a theocracy is in power in Iran, and the Iraqis look as if they might turn to the imams as well. Sorry, Ali: these days, everyone is doing God.

Next Article