A Crossley Essay You’ll Want to Read

By What Authority Are You Doing These Things? A Brief History of the Bible in English Political Discourse from Margaret Thatcher to Jeremy Corbyn


This article looks at how the Bible has been understood and constructed in English political discourse over the past forty years. It looks at how emerging neoliberalism and the social changes of the 1960s contributed to Margaret Thatcher’s influential construction of the Bible as a source of authority for her brand of economics. This laid the template for dominant understandings of the Bible which were aided (often unintentionally) through pop cultural trends. Tony Blair added social liberalism (especially in relation to gender and sexuality) to Thatcher’s Bible which was in turn accepted by David Cameron. During this consolidation of the neoliberal Bible, the radical Bible associated with the Left of the Labour Party was squeezed out of parliamentary discourse. The economic crash of 2008, however, has produced two competing discourses surrounding the Bible in party-political discourse: a Cameron-led intensified version of Thatcher’s Bible and a Corbyn-led return of the radical Bible.