UK 19 November 2007 Let's hear it for Charlie... Brian Coleman hails the contribution of London's black churches, attacking City Hall's PC alternativ Sign UpGet the New Statesman's Morning Call email. Sign-up I can confidently predict the United Kingdom will never become a republic having been present the other day when Prince Charles celebrated his 59th Birthday at Jesus House, Cricklewood. He was in the company of a thousand members of one of Britain’s premier black churches and you should have seen the absolutely rapturous reception he and the Duchess of Cornwall received. Anybody who thinks that the multiracial nature of Britain is a threat to the Monarchy is living in cloud cuckoo land. The visit was the initiative of the Bishop of London, Richard Charteris who is known for being close to the Prince of Wales and, dressed as he was in scarlet, looked rather like Cardinal Wolsey. Fortunately for Charteris, he not only looks and sounds every inch a Bishop but he was rather more capable of delivery in matters of Royal marriage than Wolsey. Every time I despair of the rather vacuous leadership of the Church of England under the current Archbishop of Canterbury, and at the Lord Mayors Banquet last Monday he told some of the most tired jokes in the after dinner speakers' handbook, I listen to a sermon from the Bishop of London or the chief rabbi on Thought for the Day and my faith in the religious leadership of our country is restored. Much has been written about the ever increasing gun and gang crime amongst the African Caribbean Community in London and hardly a week goes by without another shooting, usually casually dismissed by the media with the phrase 'Operation Trident Officers are investigating' - police code for 'nice white middle class suburban residents can sleep easily in their beds'. Endless conferences are held at which the usual suspects (often on the Mayor of London’s pay roll) trot out woolly rhetoric and no solutions. As many of our inner London comprehensives have failed for a generation to engage with black youth the only organisations that have any credibility in the black community in London are the black-led churches. Many of them, such as Jesus House operate social programmes ranging from nurseries for working families, youth and sports activities, drug awareness courses and social services a borough council can only dream of - usually without much or any public subsidy. Indeed they are generally ignored by government at all levels. A fraction of the cost of the race relations industry run from City Hall would be much better spent directly through the black churches of London and yet they are often ineligible for grants as they do not have acceptable equalities policies and all the other PC crap the public sector demands. The 'liberal' elite that calls the shots on social policy run a mile when asked to engage with faith communities and particularly churches which often hold inconvenient views on matters of social policy such as abortion, gay rights or the sanctity of marriage. Anyone who expects the Evangelical Alliance to take a float at Gay Pride is missing the point. Ken Livingstone and the far left manage to ignore the inconvenient social views of many of the Mosques and Muslim Communities they deal with so why not the black churches? Once again Prince Charles is ahead of the game, god bless him. › Economic worries and divine intervention Brian Coleman was first elected to the London Assembly in June 2000. Widely outspoken he is best known for his groundbreaking policy of removing traffic calming measures Subscribe To stay on top of global affairs and enjoy even more international coverage subscribe for just £1 per month!