Who speaks for us?
If you are not interested in politics and long election campaigns this won’t be a happy New Year for you.
The next 17 weeks will be non-stop electioneering. Ed Miliband launched his party’s campaign in Manchester on Monday, promising to doorstep four million of us before the May 7th election. He is saying that the Conservatives want to cut public spending to the levels of the 1930’s, when there was no National Health Service. Chancellor Osborne is countering this with Treasury costings of Labour plans that mean big increases in public spending and national debt, undoing the economic recovery achieved by the Coalition Government.
The pundits say the most likely result in May is no party with an overall majority. The polls show Labour and the Conservatives running head to head but there are too many unknowns to predict the outcome. The Scottish Nationalists are expected to take up to thirty seats off Labour but UKIP could attract Conservative voters opposed to EU membership and immigration levels. Labour is behind the Conservatives on the economy and leadership and no party has ever won with those handicaps.
The most likely outcome is not another coalition but a minority Government and 40% of Conservative supporters expect that to be led by David Cameron. The problem is that minority Governments do not last long. The two major parties are looking for ‘confidence and supply’ support from the smaller parties but they will have to make concessions to achieve this. 74% of Conservatives oppose any deal with UKIP and Labour would have to pay a high price to gain SNP support.
Whatever our hostility to politics and elections we the voters will decide the outcome and have to live with its consequences. We need prayer for how we vote as well as for those who have to cope with our decisions. Dare I suggest that it is a Christian’s duty to vote after seeking God’s guidance? If we do not we are handing over the choice of who governs us and the policies they adopt to non-believers.
It is worth remembering that the Bible is not indifferent to politics. God gave us responsibility for ruling over his creation. By his hand Joseph became Prime Minister of Egypt and David King of Israel. Paul and Peter urged us to pray for our Governors. Jesus taught Christians not to conform to the patterns of this world but to be agents of change. By being faithful Daniel was able to be a top man in the governments of two empires. Christians like William Wilberforce and Hannah Moore understood this. So too do today’s Christian MPs. If we think politics is a dirty business, is that because we are not playing our part? How can we pray that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven and opt out of our minimal civic duty to vote?