There’s not enough love and kindness in British politics, Labour MP Tom Watson has said.
In an exclusive interview with The Catholic Herald, the MP, who has represented the West Bromwich East constituency since 2001, spoke of the time when “it was normal for politicians to worry about what inequality does to us as a society… and that just seems to have been lost”.
“I know this might sound naïve but I really believe there’s not enough love and kindness in our politics,” said Mr Watson, who is known for his combative style in Parliament.
During the interview, Mr Watson spoke of how he has taken inspiration from Pope Francis.
“I’ve been reading his stuff. He really inspires me. Did you read his Lent message? It quotes Corinthians – ‘that by his poverty you might become rich’ – I honestly believe that we need a new politics that is inspired by that same service, love and compassion,” he said.
Mr Watson was not brought up as a Christian, but chose to be confirmed in the Church of England when he was an undergraduate and spoke about how he sometimes turns to prayer.
“You might not think this counts. But yes – in times of great stress and need, I talk to God,” he said.
Mr Watson also confirmed that his children are being raised in the Catholic Church.
Since his resignation from Tony Blair’s Government in 2006 after calling on the then Prime Minister to resign, he has taken up a number of campaigns from the back benches. Under attack himself from News International, he began to work with other victims of intrusive and illegal press attention. “It wasn’t vengeance but just this absolute fury at the injustice of it,” said. “This institution – these powerful people – were getting away with it. And everyone was just letting them, even though they really were ruining innocent people’s lives.”
Now Mr Watson has turned his attention to allegations of historic child abuse by senior politicians and public officials. While pointing out that the Catholic Church has its own difficulty in this area, he said: “It would be very wrong and quite dangerous to single out the Church and say that it’s been a problem there and that’s that. What we’re discovering is that there was a time when we as a society didn’t love our children enough and didn’t protect them properly. This is not about the Catholic Church or religion, it is about institutional failures throughout.”
To read our exclusive interview with Tom Watson go here