Honest Politics

As we draw closer to the General Election, one wonders what the latest bribe promise to the electorate will prove to be. I am not myself allied to any political party, so the ya, boo, sucks type of argument many enjoy tends to leave me cold. Unless I have been looking in the wrong places (quite possible), I have not yet seen any really thoughtful analyses of what the next government must tackle and how. For many of us who believe we have a duty to exercise our right to vote responsibly, 7 May looms uncomfortably close without our being any the wiser about the choice we should make.

I myself have a very specific, personal interest in the future of the NHS, but I wouldn’t make promises about that the litmus test of responsible government. I have a keen interest in business and economics, but I wouldn’t make promises about that my sole criterion, either. I also  have strong opinions about what are generally termed ‘pro-life issues’ but I can’t stomach the other views of some of those who espouse similar pro-life ideals. Single-issue politics do not do justice to the complexity of modern society, nor does looking at our own country in isolation from all others help us make wise decisions. I am thrown back on prayer, as always, and a tedious search for something more than electoral promises: commitment and challenge. An honest warning of more blood, sweat and tears beats a specious hope of jam tomorrow any day.

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22 thoughts on “Honest Politics”

  1. The majority of politicians on all sides do their best for their constituents, and we take a huge amount for granted. It is one of the most important professions on earth but, like being a nun, more often than not it’s a thankless task unless it is a real vocation.
    I have no doubt who to vote for, even if I don’t necessarily agree with everything they say and do. It’s the economy, economy, economy, because there is nothing amusing about a bankrupt nation, its leads to poverty and often even war.
    I think a free society is something worth working for, because in a free society everything becomes possible,
    especially building up the Kingdom.

  2. Exactly Sister!

    What also worries me is that the political parties tend to reach out to their particular supporters without really considering the needs of the whole country. The majority of politicians have urban constituencies, and take no real interest in matters of concern to the rural economy as well as its infrastructure and services whether it is medical services, local transport, communications (phone, internet and mobile) and so on.

    Whilst away the mobile signal was flaky at best and I wasn’t able to access Wi-Fi so my week away cost me a £30 mobile bill. It really makes me wonder how those who need a good mobile signal such as farmers and other businesses cope. Don’t start me on milk prices either!

    I might live on the edge of a city, but within 2 minutes walk I am deep in the country where livestock farming is very important.

    So let us pray for politicians to be more honest with us and to look after the whole country and not just who they think are their core supporters.

  3. Sister, I couldn’t agree with you more. This General Election campaign seems to me to have been based upon fear, bitterness & personality. It is difficult to know how to use ones vote wisely. Not to vote would, I believe, be an affront to those who died in order that we are able to vote.

    I am also of the opinion that the press and news services have to shoulder a degree of our apathy, as they have been stoking the fire called fear.

    As Christians we can hope and pray that come May 7th we will be guided to cast our vote not only wisely, but with appropriate conviction rather than based on how an individual has come across on personality alone.

  4. Dear sister I agree with your comment, especially the last one. I feel we need to look at the candidates and what they have achieved in experience and for whom they have stood up for. I will always use my vote, as David pointed out many suffered to ensure we all have a voice. However I used my postal vote to select the man I can believe in to do his very best to help redress the balance between rich and poor. It grieves me deeply when some politicians can justify why the greatest portion of global and national wealth sits with a handful of too powerful people. I can only hope his influence will be effective if his party comes to govern.

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  6. The Archbishop of Canterbury says the more he meets politicians, the more impressed he is, and the less cynical he becomes. I would love to know what he hears that we don’t!

    We expect a lot of our politicians, including being ridiculed and having every word they utter scrutinised and criticised. It doesn’t lead for honesty and real dialogue, sadly. I am longing for a politician who says “I don’t know, but I’ll do some research and find out” !

  7. I believe it is right to vote. Many of our antecedents strove at length for our emancipation.
    I always vote for a party with a strong social conscience, care for the dispossessed, disadvantaged and poorer members of our society. For those whom Jesus strove in his ministry. So that reduces my choice to Labour, Liberal Democrats or the Greens. In my constituency, the only social conscience party which stands a chance of winning is Labour. It also helps that the candidate is a young lady who knows and cares greatly about her constituents.
    I may be letting my heart rule my head but I have had enough of this nasty, vindictive and very unChristian government which has reduced so many of my fellow human beings to an existence based on zero hours contracts, minimum wages and use of foodbanks. I rest my case.
    Whoever you vote for or not, God bless and care for you all. Love and peace.

  8. I think you’re right about the lack of good analysis in the campaigns, and I’ve seen a disturbing move towards the American style of negative, personality-based campaigning – tell the electorate how awful the other person/party is, rather than saying what the speaker would actually do to deal with issues. It’s all been rather depressing. Only the minor parties have really stated clearly what their stances are.

    But we still have to vote. Women in particular – when women were tortured and even died in the fight to give us the franchise, how dare we disregard their suffering?

    So I’ll be there on May 7th, but I will be voting on the basis of my strongly held political beliefs and in support of the NHS and other social equality issues, rather than on the basis of convincing campaigns from any of the 3 major parties.

  9. Thank you for your comments. I don’t think any of us disagrees about the importance of voting, and voting as wisely as we can. Some are quite clear about the basis on which, and for whom, they will decide to vote; others are less clear. I’m one of the latter. I have some strongly held beliefs and opinions (and some vested interests in some things that have been highlighted so far, as I have admitted), but I know that seeking the common good is much more important. The difficulty is deciding how best to achieve that.

  10. The situation in Scotland is of course very different. I have used my postal vote after much prayer. It was a very difficult choice. The man who was our MP was the best choice in terms of relating to our catholic beliefs and the young Dr standing for the party which is likely to win does not reflect those views.

    The Scottish Catholic Bishops issued wise advice and a particular problem here are the nuclear weapons sitting less than thirty miles from my front door.

    So in the end I voted for the party the bishops were in reality pointing us towards because they stand most closely to catholic social teaching.
    I’m not overly happy with my choice but it was made prayerfully.

  11. Last night I heard our parishioner and Henley constituency Green Party candidate, Mark Stevenson, talk about his politics and Catholic faith (which is deep). He finds that Party’s values the best match to Catholic social teaching, and doesn’t encounter hostility to his faith. He’s got my vote. And I like the feeling of loyalty about voting for a friend!

  12. I have to agree with the sentiments expressed here. Due to postal voting, my vote has already been cast. I’ve voted for the only party that has any integrity (in my view) when it talks about social justice. I too have issues with some of their policies, but feel that the rest of the field are not worth voting for – but I don’t want to feel that my vote is either wasted or could be accused of voting for policies which I totally disagree with. And I’m afraid that nobody has managed to convince me either way on that accord.

    The politicians who resort to the gutter to get their way are not worth listening too. I have a hard working MP from one of the major parties who I have engaged with on numerous occasions in the last two parliaments – but sadly, I can’t vote for her party as they’re policies I just can’t agree with and voting on a personal knowledge basis isn’t helpful as it’s quite a partisan act.

    So, this wayward voter from an older generation, has been obliged to vote for the least worst option from the many parties with their name on the list of candidates.

    It’s time that we enjoyed the sort of proportional representation that is considered good enough for the governance of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, but not for national government? That might introduce a much less combative mood into politics as parties will know that some sort of coalition will be needed for the long term and greater good of the whole country. First past the post has had it’s day, as governments are elected nowadays even with a minority of the total vote. That doesn’t make sense and is unjust to those who want the majority vote to count.

  13. And not just those: but as you said, we can’t make single issues deal breakers. Sadly, all parties share a consensus on abortion and contraception which no Catholic can agree with. There is a distinction between the Green Party’s policies and manifesto. The former are constantly being revised, and that process is very permeable for members to influence. So get in there, faithful Catholics, in large numbers!

    • Sorry, John, this blog is a-political in terms of party politics. It is perfectly possible to be a faithful Catholic and hold very different views about which party to vote for. I will therefore post your comment but at the same time dissociate myself, the community and this blog from it.

    • Perhaps it would be helpful to accept that this is a situation, like so many in our lives, where we have to accept the unsatisfactory and anguished position of making a compromised choice because there is no other – I think it unlikely that any political party would have many adherents who don’t quietly disagree on some aspects of policy but consider that, on balance, the party they choose is the ‘best in the circumstances’. It’s not at all comfortable but maybe that very discomfort forces us to think more deeply about the many serious issues before us?

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