A much overlooked measure in the recent budget, was the decision to hand over sunday trading laws powers to local powers, such as Mayors and Councils. Well, it was overlooked by some, but not by others. Giles Fraser certainly didn’t miss it, and neither did Peter Hitchens. Giles thinks that the Conservatives worship the god of money ( the irony considering the vast wealth of the Church of England, and the Vatican), and has managed to tie up debt forgiveness into his discourse on why we need a day of ‘rest’, or rather restfulness for some of us. Peter Hitchens argument lays as always upon the foundation that the Conservatives have forgotten their roots (hardly a new angle then), and the contempt he espouses for modernity is as always enjoyable to read, even if as always it’s complete and utter drivel.
Opening up shops on a Sunday isn’t destroying God, or the holy day of Sunday. It also isn’t about us ‘worshipping money’, it is rather about personal choice. This old chestnut which the church and its proponents don’t mention, most likely because they really don’t love the idea. How could one love the idea of personal choice, if you live your life by a set of guidelines? Well as a well meaning Liberal, I’m a big advocate of personal choice. I don’t tend to denigrate or even worse dictate that someone cannot go somewhere on a perfectly average day for no obvious reason. Some people find Sunday being a day of ‘rest’ a nice idea which needs to be implemented. This is perfectly fine, you won’t see me knocking on people’s doors on Sunday morning,asking them to commit to the god of materialism, and to bloody well get out and shop at the local high street, instead of going for a walk or chatting with the inlaws over lunch. However neither will you see me drag people out from the shops, and demand that they go home and stay there either.
Indeed they go out of their way to paint this move, about eradicating peace, and civility from our glorious nation. As if Sunday was magically different from Saturday. Well, in a post christian Britain the majority of us don’t believe in a god, let alone a Christian one that would demand a day of rest. The belief that families all get together on a Sunday isn’t one which i adhere to, because it isn’t my experience. Of course Giles, and Peter miss out the possibility of a family trip on a Sunday to places which aren’t forced to be closed by an archaic law. Their view seems to be formed from an inherent snobbishness. As if going shopping (for a book like myself) on a Sunday makes you less worthy than those who sit at home and are able to fashion enjoyment out of that. For some they derive pleasure from shopping, they see it as a valuable shared experience, and with the hassle of 21st century life not everyone can devote Saturday to such frivolities. Indeed, not only does opening the shops allow for greater freedom and choice, it could be argued it helps those families spend time together on a Sunday. Something which the proponents of the Sunday trading laws have forgotten, or simply not considered.
What people like Giles Fraser, and especially Peter Hitchens are upset about, is the loss of their cultural dominance. We no longer live in a world, or nation dominated by the Church which controls our customs, practices, and where we can go on a specific day. Christianity is a declining power, it’s a beacon of hope for fewer and fewer people, as we all try to navigate and lead ethical lives without the need for a personal deity watching over us. They try to cling on to the last remaining links to their former status in our society. My only retort to this would be the same as the famous stonewall slogan ‘Get over it’.