It’s nearly here. I’m sure you’re counting down the days, getting ready, listening to those same old ‘tunes’ on the radio, and girding yourself for the inevitable onslaught. Yes, it’s time for a General Election.
In some ways, it’s quite nice to be in Advent when our political life is in turmoil. Advent, perhaps uniquely amongst all the seasons, is a time for reflection and preparation, with a grounded and reasoned hope that, in Christ, there are better days ahead. Oh, that we could just find our way to that kind of outlook in our national life at the moment.
It’s not my place to tell you how to vote. I do hope, however, you will exercise your democratic right and ensure turnout is high. More people chose not to vote last time than voted for any one party! That’s a lot of power wasted. Please make the time.
What I would like you to do, however, is join me in using the power we have right now in our polling card to call upon all political parties to live to a higher standard.
I’m sure there will be things that have annoyed you. The truth is that if I listed all the things that have angered me, I’d fill several pages of Trio. But here’s a few:
The Conservative Party doctoring videos, setting up fake websites and social media accounts, in a deliberate attempt to mislead the public’s perception of their opponents.
The Labour Party’s seeming inability to win its internal war against anti-semitism. Even in the last day or two, the Chief Rabbi has made an unprecedented call to the nation to remember this and vote accordingly.
The Liberal Democrats seem to have a predilection for dodgy bar charts that seek to mislead and encourage people to vote yellow in seats where it’s less marginal than they want you to think.
I appreciate some of these things are worse than others, but the common thread concerns moral character, truth, honesty, integrity and ethical behaviour.
What I’d like to see is voters telling candidates – “when you act with integrity and honesty, when you choose to take the high road, when you don’t attack opponents but instead set out a positive case for your own candidacy, when you can admit your own problems and address them, when you answer a direct question with a direct answer, only then will I consider you worthy of my vote.”
We shouldn’t have to say that, I know. They should do it simply because it’s right. But if the public do reward integrity and honesty with votes, parties and candidates will begin to take moral fibre more seriously.
I’ll finish with some wise advice from John Wesley. I hope you can follow it in this election. In 1774, he wrote in his journal:
“I met those of our society who had votes in the ensuing election, and advised them 1. to vote, without fee or reward, for the person they judged most worthy, 2. to speak no evil of the person they voted against, and 3. to take care their spirits were not sharpened against those that voted on the other side.”
I hope you have a good Christmas and my prayers to you and yours for a happy 2020.
Rev David Green