Anneliese Dodds MP was our guest at St Hilda's Chaplain's chat

1st February 2019
Chaplain's Chat with Anneliese Dodds at St Hilda's College

On the snowy evening of 1 February, Anneliese Dodds (PPE, 1998), MP for Oxford East and Shadow Minister for the Treasury, was our guest at Hilary Term's Chaplain's Chat. The Rev'd Brian Mountford welcomed the audience and Anneliese before beginning their discussion. Canon Mountford and Anneliese considered social need and political ethics. Anneliese stood for parliament in order to try to achieve her politcal goals. She regards empathy as a key quality for a good parliamentary representative. They went on to discuss the role of religion in society and how this might develop in the future. We live in a time when 73 per cent of 17-24 year olds say that they have no religion, so is it time for the church to be disestablished? The discussants acknowledged that faith communities can bring a lot to politics and to society, but it is essential that every group feels that they have influence, including those with no religion. 

Early in the discussion the theme of the 'Common Good’ had been introduced, and interestingly, in the plenary debate this was the topic, rather than Brexit, that predominated. Can social change be shaped from the top down, or must it develop at the local level? In an age of privacy and individualism, communal activity has declined. One move in the right direction might be citizens' assemblies. This is particularly important at a time when politicians need to think about how to bring people together and change their minds about each other, and a range of solutions, including citizens' assemblies were debated.

Brexit, of course, had its turn in the Q&A. Isn’t there a structural moral problem in the way personal and party interest seems to trump the national interst? Hadn’t the parties failed to engage with the result of the referendum?  The seemed to a genuine fear that 'No Deal' hangs over us. Anneliese acknowledged it would be foolish to guess what would happen politically in the next few weeks. Canon Mountford thanked her for being such a clear and honest speaker. We hope to see her at St Hilda's again soon.