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The General Election looms

Parliament was prorogued yesterday, bringing this session of Parliament to a close. It reassembles on 4th June for the Queen’s Speech that will set out the Government’s programme for the next eleven months.

Sixteen Bills have been passed and five others are carried over to the new Session. The next session will conclude with the General Election on May 7th.

The economy will inevitably be a major electoral issue. The Conservatives will claim credit for the recovery and blame the last Labour Government for mismanaging the economy and creating a huge debt by spending more than the taxes brought in. Labour will counter that the Conservatives are on the side of the wealthy and they alone are concerned for the poor who have been hit hard by the benefit cuts. The Liberal Democrats will say that when no party had a majority they had no choice but to join the Coalition to make stable government possible. They have proved they can govern and now want an opportunity to do it by themselves.

Europe will be another big issue because of UKIP’s campaign for withdrawal. Ironically, if UKIP takes votes away from the Conservatives they could prevent the In/Out referendum Cameron has promised for 2017. Nigel Farage says UKIP would back a minority Conservative Government to secure the referendum. That would be welcomed by right wing Conservatives, who want Britain to leave the EU, but not by a majority of Conservative MPs.

Recent polls put the Conservatives narrowly in the lead over Labour but not far enough to obtain a majority. UKIP comes third in most polls, five percent ahead of the Liberal Democrats. UKIP are expected to do well in the Euro elections on 22nd May but it remains to be seen how that will transfer to national elections. The Scottish referendum in September could also influence the result in next year’s Parliamentary election because a ‘yes’ vote in the referendum would mean the 41 Labour MPs representing Scottish seats would no longer be eligible to sit at Westminster.

A welcome but gruesome debate on Tuesday about North Korea highlighted the truly horrendous ways those in power treat the people, especially Christians. The MPs, most of whom were Christians, called for the BBC World Service to broadcast to North Korea to tell the suffering Koreans that they are not forgotten.  They called on the UN to refer North Korea to the International Criminal Court. Replying, Hugo Swire, the Foreign Office Minister, welcomed the debate and said the Government would press for a tough resolution at the UN General Assembly in the autumn. The North Korean economy is close to collapse and sooner or later the regime will do so too. The British Embassy in Pyongyang must be ready to persuade those in power that there is a better way.

So, Parliament may not be sitting now but there is still a lot of politics happening for Christians to follow and prayerfully reflect on.

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