In this installment of my British Election 2015 series I want to do a question and answer session. All the questions are among what has been asked of me these past few weeks and my responses to them:
- Should we vote for the party or the person?
The received wisdom is party, although some would argue this is less of an issue at local level. The reasoning is that parties govern and we should be voting for an administration to govern us. I differ inasmuch as I see the person as just as important as the party and have experience of the right person from the wrong party doing a lot of good. I also think different criteria operate locally to nationally. While not something I do, there is a case for spoiling one’s vote if you can’t support any of the candidates and for tactically voting if it is choice between a no hoper and someone who can stop the wrong person winning. It is a shame we don’t operate Alternative Voting instead of first past the post, but that is for another discussion.
- How do you think the campaigns are going?
Strangely enough I feel a degree of optimism. I expected a lot of sound bites and woolly platitudes but there is a lot of content around if you are prepared to seek it out and it is possible to see differences in the parties. It doesn’t make deciding who has won the argument any easier though. I am pleased in my area we have held hustings and see the outcome from these as positive as we did learn a lot about the candidates. I’m disappointed it has overshadowed the campaign for the local elections though.
- How do you view the parties, especially minority ones?
I have spent a lot of time considering the different parties in my other blogs and none stand out. I have been impressed though at the rise of UKIP and the Greens, seemingly at opposite ends of the political divide, and while neither have won me over, both have made valid points and important contributions to the debate. The rise of Scottish and Welsh nationalists is also significant.
- Who do you think will win?
Given my record as a political pundit is poor, I am reluctant to make predictions and would rather refer to what seems to be coming out of the opinion polls and that is it will be a close run thing between Labour and Conservative without there being an overall majority. That then means coalitions or minority governments with alliances being made with other parties, leading to lots of speculation on how it all will pan out. It looks as if SNP will win seats, Lib Dems will lose seats and the Greens and UKIP, while not winning seats or just a handful, both receiving a big increase in the popular vote. Regarding my own area, I cannot see the two Conservative MPs being beaten and, as for the local election, see my next blog posting.
- How do you balance the various issues?
For some the issues are simple and deciding who to vote for is a matter of choosing the one most likely to deal with those issues in the best way. For me, the issues are many and complex and it is why I have such difficulty arriving at my choice. It means I need to study the issues, quite aware that certain issues appeal to certain people, and trying to discern what God sees as important. I am realistic – while politicians can make a difference, there is a lot they can’t do. I try to picture what is best for the people and decide accordingly.
- Why are you not a politician?
If things had been different I could well have become a politician. At best I am a floating voter, considering the circumstances prevailing at the time I am called upon to cast my vote. I take a keen interest in politics as will be evident to any reading my blogs and am fully engaged with politicians and the political processes. I see my calling these days as a community activist called to preach the gospel.
- What qualities do you look for in who you vote for?
As stated earlier I vote for the person as much as for the party, because personal qualities matter. The qualities I look for in my MP include integrity, hard work, understanding, compassion and the ability to balance and perform well the duties of a Parliamentarian with that as a representative of the whole constituency. A similar mix applies to local councilors. I particularly admire those who are more than politicians chasing short term solutions but rather statesmen building for the next generation. I also like to see humility, recognizing when it is “yes we can” but also “no we can’t” or “we have blown it”. It also occurs to me, in this day of professional and career politicians I would much rather see more conviction politicians who have seen life in the raw.
- Who will you vote for?
I haven’t made up my mind yet. As I said, none of the parties have convinced me and because national issues and local issues are not necessarily the same the need to vote for the person I feel best equipped to deal with the relevant issues is important. I will decide though and propose to say who and why in the next installment.
- Is religion a factor when deciding who to vote for?
Regarding the religious affiliations of those standing in my local elections, I’m not sure what these are and it isn’t an issue. Regarding the national election, as far as I am aware the person seeking re-election in my constituency is a Christian and both persons I am considering voting for have as far as I am aware no religious affiliation. Given I am a values voter and religion is related to values, then religion is a factor. But I would much rather endorse a good candidate who is an atheist than a bad candidate who is a Christian.
- Is there a missing ingredient we ought to consider?
Today, someone shared the verse: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” 2 Chronicles 7:14. That ingredient is prayer and humility.