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Why I'm proud to be a Christian and a socialist

In my father's household and in the homes of his ancestors, socialism was held to be almost as sacred as the Catholicism that defined every aspect of their lives. If you were to unravel the DNA of their faith structure you would see the ribbons of these beliefs curling round each other as they rose and fell together. On those occasions when their political or spiritual allegiances were besieged, each could rely on the other to provide strength and support. To them, the relationship between their faith and their politics was entirely straightforward.

The Christian narrative gave them a sense of their place in time and history and told them that they were so much more than mere flesh and blood and that there was much more to their existence than all that which they could merely touch, see and hear. This told them that tyrants, despots and juntas would never enslave them or possess them. Socialism gave them an opportunity to carry the teachings of their saviour into the secular marketplace where charity, compassion, equality and the dignity of work similarly underpinned the trade union movement and the Labour party.

The Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes and the universal declaration of human rights were all linked seamlessly and, in this way, they could construct bridges that allowed them to cross from the spiritual to the temporal and back again. Thou shalt not kill; blessed are the peacemakers; all human beings are born free in dignity and rights.

Yet today, in the broad church that is the UK left, Christianity has become the sin that dare not speak its name. For, according to the sentinels of neo-liberal socialism, you are not allowed to be in their party if, at the same time, you also accept and subscribe to what I suppose we must call traditional Christianity. The signs first became evident in the early 1990s when the Scottish Labour party refused to allow Labour pro-life activists to have a stall at party conferences. If you are a Catholic and a socialist it is expected that you apologise in advance for your thrawn incorrigibility. Indeed, at future Labour party conferences, I fully expect to see the emergence of "correction facilities" where Labour activists who insist on adhering to their irresponsible Christian faith can be processed. "I fully support abortion on demand, I have no reservations whatsoever about gay marriage and I believe that the state of Israel is ultimately responsible for the attacks on the twin towers." Only after you have learnt to repeat this mantra of the NLS and have abjured the wicked teachings of your church will you be allowed to move forward into the main conference hall.

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