Deciding How To Vote

In just over a fortnight, the people of the U.K. will be heading to the polls to cast their vote in a General Election. I suspect I speak for many when I say that we have had more than enough of promises, gimmicks, half-truths and evasions from party leaders and candidates. How we respond to them matters. There will always be those who vote according to long-cherished party loyalties; others who take a single issue and make it the substance of their evaluation of what is on offer; as well as those who dutifully wade through the party manifestos and try to work out which candidate best represents what they would like to see at Westminster. In the end, we all have to make a decision and accept responsibility for what we decide, bearing in mind that our decision will affect others, not just ourselves.

The social teaching of the Catholic Church is a help in setting the principles by which to measure the rightness or wrongness of the policies being considered, but applying them is rarely easy. I was thinking about this when I recalled the words of St Benedict about the election of an abbot, the consequences of a choice based on self-interest and the role of outsiders in scrutinizing and correcting whatever is amiss (cf RB 64. 3–6). It can be difficult to free ourselves from self-interest. A promise to improve healthcare is immensely attractive to the sick. A promise to improve eduction or do away with fees is very attractive to those in a certain age group. And when all this can apparently be done without raising tax or N.I contributions, it is more attractive still. The trouble is, we all know that it doesn’t work like that. Most of us are going to have to think long and hard, pray and make the most informed decision we can, knowing it won’t be perfect. We are fortunate that the election will take place during Advent, when the Church calls us to reflect on the meaning of Christ’s coming — when we are asked to be more just, more peaceful, more concerned about the welfare of others because we are preparing to welcome our Saviour afresh.

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12 thoughts on “Deciding How To Vote”

    • But, we should therefore disregard the labels that are attached to individuals by disembling political opponents.

      Those labels which are then repeated often by the mainstream broadcast and print media whose lazy or biased journalists fail to investigate and challenge.

      Sling mud and sum will stick.

  1. I think it a sad indictment of our society when the choice of who to vote for comes down to the least worst candidate. But vote we must: men and women suffered and died so that we can do so.

  2. Unfortunate that this post relies on “we all know that it doesn’t work like that” – because these are indeed highly complex issues, and each proposal has multiple advantages and disadvantages — and the discussion is ill-served by such simplistic, sweeping pre-judgements.

    • Simplistic? Ouch. This post relies on Catholic social teaching and my background as an erstwhile historian and banker. It is meant to be short, which is why it is important to read the sentence following the one to which you object. I think that gives most readers a clue to the complexity of the issues involved. Hope so, anyway.

      • No pain intended; trying to help.

        I support the piece and the ideas in it – which is why I consider it unfortunate; that phrase detracts from the weight of the piece.

        It’s reduced so far, that it has obvious holes in the logic; for example: the promises held out as costly, also have benefits – and the _investment_ may reap rewards in excess of the cost.

        (I could have stated that more clearly; apologies if my first comment sounded like snark.)

  3. Sister, do you consider ‘alliance pacts’ to be immoral? It’s tactical voting effected in advance of polling day, as it were. In my constituency only one party out of Lib Dems, Plaid Cymru and Greens is putting forward a candidate, and I assume the three parties feel they have enough in common to do this, including, of course, their opposition to the two other main parties. If this is compromising, I confess I’m all in favour!

    • I didn’t i=sue the word ‘immoral’, I said tactical voting was not without its moral dilemmas but it would require a much longer post to go into that; and you know it is my strict policy not to engage in party politics, Sorry if that sounds evasive!

  4. My post was a straight question, not a criticism — Heaven forbid! — and centred on the principle of alliance pacts. The political parties mentioned were by way of illustration, and I wasn’t soliciting your approval of them. The trouble is, you dangle before us a tempting topic of discussion which, as you imply, requires more space than you feel should be given to it.

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