The Archbishop of York John Sentamu and the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby take part in a press conference after the Church of England General Synod last year. Photograph: Getty Images.
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The attacks on the Archbishops show how the right has fallen into market fundamentalism

True conservatives should call greed to account and be as sceptical of big business as they are of big government.

The reaction to On Rock or Sand, the volume of essays edited by the Archbishop of York, has been depressingly instructive. For whether right or wrong, well-meant or muddled, the response to them by a strident section of the doctrinaire free market "right" has made Richard Dawkins sound almost reasonable and open to doubt. We’ve been told that the essays reek of the "notorious" (and of course "Marxist") Faith in the City report by the Church of England in 1985. That the clergy involved are "out of touch", that they need to "earn" the right to enter the debate and that one after another foolish thing follows from their critique of modern British life as it’s endured by far too many of our people today. This is a narrow, ugly, and I hope for its sake, wrong view of what conservatism is. And dare I say it, a tellingly guilty and defensive one too. What Justin Welby argues – the economy should not have "the power to dictate what is and is not possible for human beings" – is unanswerable. What interests me is quite why so many proclaimed conservatives and even Christians have sought to answer it quite so wrongly.

First there have been the smears. Lord Heseltine, for example, called the Archbishops "out of touch". I suppose it’s possible to be in touch in a Belgravia townhouse or agreeable country seat and equally it’s not impossible to be out of touch running, say, a soup kitchen, it’s just unlikely. I’m not sure that the critics of the Archbishops who have personalised their attacks have really hit the mark. Not least because the ex-oil trader, and the ex-lawyer imprisoned in Uganda by the tyrant Idi Amin, simply aren’t unworldly figures.

Another blanket dismissal of On Rock or Sand has been the denial of legitimacy. That the churches need to somehow "earn" the right to comment on politics in a way that, mysteriously, businessmen or trades unionists don’t have to. In truth, and not least in the run up to a general election, it would have been far easier, far less brave not to publish such a tract now. It takes courage to face up to the casual, careless, unafraid abuse thrown at them. But why does the Christian concern with the weak in modern Britain seem not so much to frighten the powerful as to positively disgust them?

Certainly it leads to the erection of innumerable straw men in the defence of mammon. The Archbishops have variously been attacked (and without any evidence) that they believe in a "cosmic Santa Claus" as God. That their concern for the poor somehow means they therefore wish an end to material advancement for others, or even full stop. Perhaps most absurdly, some critics argue that because the churches want to help those losing out among all society’s evident material gains, they wish to keep them that way. In need of help, "dependent" on it, rather than released and transformed by it.

Making these attacks pushes some market ideologues into unseemly apologetics for all that most discredits capitalism even in the eyes of its friends. I’m hardly opposed to the free market but being so doesn’t require one to leap to the defence of "Black Friday", crowing great merits for rampant consumerism because that’s supposed to be the motor of progress. Attributing all that’s good in society to our being a capitalist state is just as inadequate as claiming that’s all that’s good has happened because equally we’ve been a welfare state for the better part of a century too.

Justin Welby rebuts the idea "that if we fix the economy, the fixing of human beings will follow. This is a lie," he starkly says. When opponents of this truth contend the churches shouldn’t "poke their noses into politics", I, as a politician, say politics has done a lot of poking over the years and everyone else should feel free to poke back. A capitalism that conservative-minded Christians can live with is one that Rod Dreher, the American advocate of "Crunchy Conservatism", has summed up very well. We’ve got to call greed to account; we’ve got to be as sceptical of big business as we are of big government; and all our hopes for any economic system should be rooted in humility and restraint. Mrs Thatcher, as she was in some other matters, was wrong about the Good Samaritan. What mattered was not that he had hard cash but that he had good intentions. The Archbishops have them too and conservatives of every stripe should listen and learn. 

Nigel Dodds is MP for North Belfast and leads the DUP at Westminster

Nigel Dodds is MP for North Belfast and leads the DUP at Westminster

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Labour must reclaim English patriotism if we are to beat Ukip and the Tories

We can't talk about the future of our country unless we can discuss the past. 

I was a parliamentary candidate for Thurrock, but the place which I currently call home is Hackney, London. This distinction is worth explaining. The questions of Labour and Englishness – what exactly is the English problem that we’re trying to solve, why do we need a progressive patriotism, does it already exist, if not why not and if we had one what would it look like? – are, above all, questions of identity and place. We need to build a patriotism that includes and resonates with residents of both Hackney and Thurrock. Currently they are very far apart. 

I’m the little girl who sat on her dad’s shoulders to wave a flag at Princess Anne’s first wedding. And I was also, like Sadiq Khan, waving a flag at the Silver Jubilee in 1977. I’m an ex-Catholic, I’m a Londoner, I’m English and I’m a woman, and all of those identities are important although not necessarily equally so and not necessarily all of the time.

But I’m also a member of the Labour party, not only as a candidate, but now as an activist in Hackney. And that is where I see the difference very strongly between Hackney and what I experienced in Thurrock. 

Thurrock was Ukip ground zero last year - 12,000 people voted for Ukip in a general election for the first time, on top of the 3,500 that had voted for them before in 2010. Most of those 12,000 people had either not voted before, or had voted Labour. 

This isn’t just about being in two different places. Sometimes it feels like more than being in two different countries, or even like being on two different planets. The reality is that large swathes of Labour’s members and supporters don’t identify as patriotic, fundamentally because patriotism has been seized and colonised by the right. We need to understand that, by allowing them to seize it, we are losing an opportunity to be able to reclaim our past. 

We do not have any legitimacy to talk about the future of our country unless we can talk about our past in a better way. We have tried but our efforts have been half-hearted. Take Ed Miliband's call for One Nation Labour, which ended up amounting to a washed-out Union Jack as a visual for our brand. It could have been so much better – an opportunity for an intellectual rebranding and a seizure of Conservative territory for our own ends. Ultimately One Nation Labour was a slogan and not a project. 

There is a section of the left which has a distinct discomfort with the idea of pride in country. It has swallowed the right-wing myth that England’s successes have all been Conservative ones. This is a lie, but one that has spread very effectively. The left’s willingness to swallow it means that we are still living in a Thatcherite paradigm. It is no wonder progressives revolt at the idea of patriotism, when the right’s ideas of duty and authority quash our ideas of ambitions for equality, opportunity for all and challenging injustice. But we risk denying our successes by allowing the right to define Englishness. It’s England that helped establish the principle of the right to vote, the rule of law, equal suffrage, and the fight against racism. 

If Englishness is going to mean anything in modern England, it needs to be as important for those who feel that perhaps they aren’t English as it is for those who feel that they definitely are. And a place must be reserved for those who, though technically English, don’t see their own story within the Conservative myth of Englishness. 

Although this reclaiming is electorally essential, it is not an electoral gimmick. It is fundamental to who we are. Even if we didn’t need it to win, I would be arguing for it.

We need to make sure that progressive patriotism reclaims the visual language that the Conservatives use to dress up their regressive patriotism. Women need to be as much in the pantheon of the radicals as part of the visual identity of Englishness. Women tend to either be there by birth or by marriage, or we are abstract manifestations of ideals like "justice" or "truth" – as seen on city halls and civic buildings across the country. But English women need to be real, rather than just ideal. Englishness does need to be focused on place and connection, and it should include Mary Wollstonecraft and Sylvia Pankhurst as well as Wat Tyler and Thomas Paine. 

We can’t pretend that we’re always right. The most patriotic thing you can do is to admit sometimes that you’re wrong, so that your country can be better. I love my country, for all its faults. But I do not live with them. I try to make my country better. That is progressive patriotism. And I know all of us who want to be part of this can be part of it. 

This article is based on Polly’s contribution to Who Speaks to England? Labour’s English challenge, a new book published today by the Fabian Society and the Centre for English Identity and Politics at the University of Winchester.