I’m glad that we don’t have the tradition in the UK church of members of congregations asking their pastors, ‘how should I vote?’ If I was asked I wouldn’t know what to say, other than pray and make your own mind up!
The trouble for me as an ordinary Christian and citizen of this great nation is that I feel as though I am both confused and disenfranchised. I have my own political opinions but I find myself struggling to decide how to vote. Even as I write I am sitting with my postal ballot in front of me and don’t yet know what I am going to do. I am a political geek – I even read party manifestos and watch political interviews and I will do an all-nighter on June the 7th/8th. But even so I still struggle.
In Britain we have a parliamentary constituency system, not a presidential one. So first of all I am voting for someone to be my local MP. My choice is limited because only four candidates are standing – two of whom have no chance of getting in. One is a from a party I would normally vote for but recently they have adopted polices which I disagree with and I am not overkeen on the MP’s somewhat scandalous behaviour. The other is from a party I have an emotional and traditional aversion to, but that is surely not an intelligent and rational response? And yet how many of us vote from traditional, tribal and cultural perspectives?
So perhaps I need to think of the wider picture. Am I going to vote for May, Corbyn, Sturgeon or Farron to become Prime Minister? The latter two of course have no chance and I can see weaknesses and strengths in both of the others. Besides I really do not like turning our democracy into a personality contest. So what about policies? Can I decide that way? For me the main concerns are Brexit, the economy, justice, defence, poverty, the NHS, liberty, education, immigration, religious freedom, the family and the right to life and liberty. None of the parties ticks all the boxes for me, so I now have to decide which are more important.
But here is the real rub – I don’t really think there is all that much difference between the parties. I don’t know the personalities well enough to make a judgement based upon any kind of real knowledge and in terms of most things I find that the political parties are all much of a muchness. From a Christian perspective they are all socially liberal and economically capitalist. I cannot help but feel that none of them are facing up to the long-term realities our nation faces.
Our rejection of God and his law has led us into a confused mess where our finances, welfare system, NHS and education are all under great strain and may buckle. Politicians can offer financial solutions (without any real way of paying for them) but they dare not face up to what has happened. As the basics of our society, family, justice, Christianity and its values, have been undermined, so our communities have become increasingly fragmented. We are materially rich and spiritually poor. Which one of our leaders is going to admit to that? And if they don’t recognise the core issue, how can they effectively deal with the resulting problems?
How am I going to vote? I still don’t know…but I will pray for our politicians and the whole United Kingdom. Lord, have mercy and forgive our foolish ways..
St Peters Free Church
Associate Director Solas CPC