Politicians need to rediscover the importance of family, of faith and of place in politics after the Covid pandemic has sparked a change in community and what is possible, argued Ruth Kelly at the latest Newman Lecture in Norwich last week.
Speaking at the Cathedral of St John the Baptist, in front of an in-person and live-streamed audience, the Rt Hon Ruth Kelly addressed the question of “What should we expect from politics after Covid?”
The former Labour Cabinet minister, and now visiting professor at St Mary’s University in London, Ruth said: “Sometimes it looks like we are gradually emerging from the pandemic leaving the worst behind us.
“But there are probably times, even in the past few months, when most of us feel very hugely disorientated, lying awake at night, wondering where we will be in six months or a year, ten years from now.
“There are huge challenges ahead.
“So what should we expect from politics after Covid?,” asked Ruth, a member of the Vatican’s Council for the Economy.
“Some of the answers are being painted as we speak, with many looking to governments to protect them ever more strongly in an increasingly uncertain world.
“But are these the right answers or can we as Catholics, provide better ones.
“The pandemic showed up the fragility of our family lives, our communities, our local societies, church and faith organisations. In short the crisis exposed a weakened and vulnerable civil society.
“In my view we need to rebuild from the bottom up, not from the top down, redefining what is meant by human flourishing, redefining what is meant by freedom.”
“I would argue that politicians need to rediscover the importance of family, of faith and of place in politics. We all need to realise that change comes from the ground up and not from the top down.
“The good news is that Coronavirus is changing what is possible. Amid emotional danger and uncertainty it has provided the potential for more connectedness, as well as less, and radically changing the meaning of community itself. The challenge now is for that renaissance to be sustained by politics, by the churches and by each one of us,” concluded Ruth.
• Rt Hon Ruth Kelly with Bishop Alan Hopes at St John’s Cathedral in Norwich before the Newman Lecture.