Posts tagged General Election
25 Apr 2010
How should Christians vote in the General Election?
That's not an easy question to answer. Politics is messy, government is messy, politicians and political parties are messy. Many issues are involved, and it can be daunting to wade through them all, weighing one cause against another, and deciding which option (if any) is most worthy of one's support.
That is where Christian organisations can be a great help. One such organisation is The Christian Institute, which (in my opinion) does a fantastic job at highlighting and campaigning on certain moral issues that affect the UK political and legal scene today.
Within the last couple of weeks The Christian Institute has launched their Election Briefing for 2010, with the laudable intention of helping Christian "voters reach an informed decision on how to cast their vote" on 6 May.
Here's my summary of the document
- Christians should decide how to vote in the 2010 General Election on the basis of "three touchstone issues": "religious liberty, the sanctity of marriage and the sanctity of human life" (p. 5, 7). Other issues exist, but are much less important.
- The parties' track records and manifesto pledges should be examined on these issues.
- However, Christians should find out what their own local candidates think about these issues, rather than just looking at the parties, as some candidates do not toe the "party line".
There follows an evaluation of the major parties, and their policies on these issues. In short, this is how the parties perform (let the reader decide which he/she thinks is the "least worst option" [sic.—twice!—p.3, 8]):
- Labour: mostly abysmal
- Conservative: mostly good (though bad in some areas and allowing a free vote in many others)
- Liberal Democrat: largely dreadful
- SNP: mixed but often good
- Plaid Cymru: mixed
Brief descriptions are given for:
- UKIP: fairly good
- Green: pretty awful
- The Christian Party: very good
- Christian Peoples Alliance: very good
What are we to make of all this? Some comments:
- The narrow focus of the Election Briefing is nothing short of shocking. What about the economy, criminal justice, healthcare, education, the environment, international order, race relations, tax and benefits, employment and housing, to pick a few examples? Is God even remotely interested in any of these? Reading the Election Briefing, one could be forgiven for thinking that these issues are completely irrelevant and should have no bearing on where we put the cross on the ballot paper. Why is that? "When it comes to the economy, Christians can legitimately disagree about the best way to tackle the UK's deficit" (p. 5). But "The issues we have highlighted are those where we believe the Bible is clear" (p. 4). So Christians should leave complex issues to one side—however important these issues are, however close they are to the heart of God—and instead should focus on a few clear, black-and-white moral issues. Admittedly, there is a thin veneer in the Briefing acknowledging the existence of these weightier matters, but where can I go to find more? Which Christian organisations have produced material to help me understand these? Where is the "Further Reading" section? Where are the tools to enable me to evaluate policies on these issues?
- In some cases, the approach to the narrow range of issues is itself questionable. For example, "Easy divorce laws have led to a lax attitude to marriage" (p.6). Or has a lax attitude to marriage led to easy divorce laws? If it is primarily the latter (and I suspect it is), then I see no reason to believe that good divorce laws will lead to a better attitude to marriage. Good laws are to be preferred to bad laws, of course, and Christians should be campaigning and voting for good laws to be made, but we are fighting a losing battle if we think that the statute book is an effective means to shape the attitudes of society. Maybe there are bigger fish to fry in this election?
How will you decide on how to vote?
23 Mar 2010
Right, I'm going to do something very countercultural, so hold tight. No, don't worry, I'm not going to leave Facebook or switch my mobile phone off. More radical than that: I'm going to tell you how I'm planning to vote in the next election.
Brighton Pavilion constituency, in which I live, is a three-way marginal between the Labour, Conservative and Green parties. I'm backing the Green Party candidate. Here's why.
- Like many, I find myself disillusioned with Labour and the Conservatives. Nothing excites me less than another parliamentary term under one or the other. I want to see real change, and for me that means a hung parliament after the next election, with greater representation for the smaller parties, and a gradual shift of power away from the Lab-Con establishment (or, more likely, a serious reform of one or both of those parties).
- The Green Party is a significant force in British politics, with numerous Green councillors and two Green MEPs. However, of the 646 seats in the Commons, not one is occupied by a Green Party representative. This is a consequence of our silly "first-past-the-post" voting system. Now, even though I don't agree with all of their policies, I'm not a Green Party member, and I don't think I'd want a Green Government, I do want there to be a Green voice in the Commons. That can happen only if they get a majority of the votes in at least one constituency. Brighton Pavilion is their best chance yet, and a very realistic chance at that.
- There are many things I like about the Green Party. I've been very impressed with the local party, its members and councillors, and think they are doing a great job at making Brighton a better place. There's a certain freshness, authenticity and transparency to the way the party functions. Their policies are much wider than environmental issues and I like the sound of a lot of them (for example, they don't idolize the free market economy).
- Caroline Lucas MEP, the party leader and their candidate for Brighton Pavilion, has been on the BBC twice this week, and has confirmed what I thought already, that she is an able, intelligent and articulate politician with great integrity. But you can judge for yourself: Question Time (available for ages), and Straight Talk (available for the next few days).
Anyway, enough of this crazy political stuff...
5 Feb 2010
I'm quite excited about this General Election thing. For one thing, struggling to overcome my very British apathy and cynicism, I'm beginning to find politics vaguely interesting. And I find myself in one of the most interesting constituencies for the coming election. A Conservative stronghold from its creation in 1950 until 1997, the Brighton Pavilion seat was gained by Labour in 1997. With the current MP due to retire, many people consider the frontrunner to be Caroline Lucas MEP, the leader of the Green Party. And, for the first time ever for a UK parliamentary seat, the shortlist is going to be all female, with the four major parties all fielding female candidates. Here's a video about the situation from the Guardian's Comment is free pages: