I’m finding myself becoming increasingly political. It’s incredibly soul destroying because the more I learn about politics the more depressed I get. I really struggle to relate to any of the main political parties.
A good friend of mine told me that to work out which party you should support you have to ask yourself which party you are most disappointed by. I guess that makes me a Lib Dem.
It seems to me that the party system is massively out of date. On one hand you have the Conservative party which dates back to the 1830s, a time when all parliamentarians, and indeed voters were the landed gentry. Time has moved on but the party still seems to be run by the upper classes and for the upper classes.
On the other hand you have the Labour party. Founded at the turn of the 20th century to empower the workers and represent those working in industry, something which successive governments seem to have ensured that Britain no longer has. This leaves the current labour party stuck between its radical roots and a kind of tory-lite fudge.
Then you have the Lib Dems which seem like a good idea on paper, somewhere in the middle of Labour and the Conservatives. The problem is that they are the third party and because they are the third party until recently people weren scared to vote for them, thinking that their vote wouldn’t really count. Finally they have got somewhere close to power, but as the ‘junior partner’ in the coalition they have been forced to support a lot of mental policies which go against their ideology, alienating them from their support and robbing them of any credibility.
I don’t think I can be the only one who feels unrepresented by the main political parties. I mean most of us aren’t rich land owners or militant trade unionists.
That’s not to say that each party doesn’t have policies that I agree with, but the problem is the package. Take 2 important political beliefs I have:
1) The family and marriage is important
2) We should redistribute wealth to ensure that the poorest in society are taken care of.
These two beliefs are especially important now.
We are in recession and (aside from the moral argument for giving money to the poor) it is patently obvious to me (and me alone it seems) that when the economy needs a kick start you should take money from those with the lowest marginal propensity to consume (i.e. the richest people who have everything they need and who would probably leave the money in some off shore tax heaven to gather interest) and give it to those with the highest propensity to consume (the single mother who would immediately go out and buy her children a warm coat). This would stimulate demand and therefore put us back on the road to growth.
Similarly alongside our nation’s economic problems, we have chronic social problems. Last years summer riots were proof enough that our society is fractured and falling apart. The traditional family unit is slowly ebbing away, robbing future generations of the stability that comes from being in a family with both male and female role models who are in a committed relationship.
It feels like I have to choose between these views every time I go to the ballet box. I can vote Tory and betray the poor, or I can vote Labour and say goodbye to the family values that this nation desperately needs.
As a Christian it becomes even more frustrating because these two views are, I believe biblical.
The problem is that there is no party that exists which reconciles these two views. This is why I believe that the party system is wrong. When you vote for a party you vote for an ideology. That’s not how leadership in the Bible is designed.
The Bible teaches that when selecting leaders, you select them based on their character:
7 For an overseer as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, 8 but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. 9 He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.
Titus 1 v 7-9
When I vote I should not have to choose between a set of ideologies, I should not be choosing between the ‘left’ and the ‘right’. Rather I should be electing a representative. Someone who is of sound character and wisdom whom I can trust. Not necessarily someone I agree with on everything, but someone whose character I can trust to do what is right. This is what the party system robs me of, whoever I elect, whether they be Labour, Tory or Lib Dem they will in most likelihood vote exactly as their party whips tell them to.
What if we had a parliament of independents who were all elected because their constituents believed them to be wise and honest people? The MPs would then elect a PM from their ranks who would then create a cabinet made up of the MPs who were best placed to run the various departments (i.e. a former teacher could run the department of education, a former GP the department of health etc.). There would be no ‘opposition’, rather wise and trusted people debating each bill and voting as their conscious demanded.
I know I’m being idealistic, but surely even misplaced idealism is better than what we have at the moment.