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Lessons to be learned from the outcome of the General Election

by
15 May 2015

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From Mr Richard Darlington

Sir, - It seems to me that the election result was simply because the electorate wanted certainty. All the media talked about how a hung Parliament made everything seem uncertain, and no party had a chance if they could not be seen to provide a sure government. Labour could not do that with the expected loss of Scottish seats to the SNP, but the Conservatives could.

The Liberal Democrat losses and the other minor parties' failure to make gains were simply collateral damage. It is a shame that a successful coalition will now be seen to be a bad thing, and I am fearful for how further welfare cuts will hurt the most vulnerable. David Cameron's "One Nation" sounds good, but the cuts will divide the nation even more, indicating that the Tories are out of touch with how many are suffering.

Interestingly, there has apparently been a sudden surge of membership for the Lib Dems since the results came out. This is rather like what happened to the SNP after the Scottish Referendum.


Richard Darlington,
1 The Woods,
Grotton,
Oldham OL4 4LP

 

From the Revd Mike Plunkett

Sir, - After the General Election, some of the victors were saying that the devoted work of the local party had influenced their success; but the reality is that, regardless of any local influence, the mood of the country had moved, and moved in the same way everywhere. In fact, it is the mood of the times and the spin doctors that decide how the voting changes.

I am sure that all your readers will acknowledge that we are called to follow Christ, and this entails seeking and praying ourselves into the mind of Christ. This means that church people should be a group throughout society who are judging by drastically different criteria and challenging those around them.

Whether it's sheep and goats, the scroll of Isaiah in the synagogue, or the Sermon on the Mount, the mind of Christ produces people like Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He stood against the greatest spin-doctor operation of all time.

I would like to suggest that the English Churches are lacking in their ability to influence the mood and spin of the nation. We should urgently follow the example of the German Churches, which, following their shame after the war, founded a yearly event involving thousands - these days in the order of 150,000 -of members from across the country in an event that examines national life and is attended by the principal politicians. One year it is Protestant, the Kirchentag, and the next year Catholic, the Katholikentag.


Mike Plunkett,
1 The Ridge,
Bishop's Castle,
Shropshire SY9 5AB

 

From Canon Mike Williams

Sir, - We have been let down badly by the Bishops, who gave us the advice in their open letter before the election calling for balance. They argued for a balance between Thatcherism and a welfare state. What they should have given us was a real vision of a 21st-century Christian sociality where each person is equally honoured, resourced, and respected.

Not only is the doctrine of balance theologically false, with no place in the Bible: it is politically naïve. Nick Clegg fought his campaign on the idea of balance. He argued that he had achieved something like a balance in coalition, and that he would stand for balance whatever happened after the election. He has been trounced.

Ed Miliband in his own way wanted a balance. He seemed to be saying that, on the one hand, we had to support a neo-liberal economic system, while, on the other, modify it for those who were disadvantaged by it. He also has been rejected.

We live in a country where most people are comfortably off. We have a reasonable lifestyle, and most voters voted to protect it. This leaves the minority on the margins. In a democratic system, the marginalised have no chance of changing the system that marginalises them. It is the welfare state that has made the middle class; now the middle class wants to desert the marginalised for whom it was invented.

A bishop is to be a teacher. As a Christian community, we need teachers who are prepared to come off the fence and to lead a search for a truly Christian understanding of society. This will demand courage. It may even mean alienating some who want to defend an economic system that automatically leads to the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. I am sure that in his own context Jesus would have called this Mammon. You cannot serve God and Mammon.

We need to applaud those churches that support foodbanks, credit unions, and charities, but this is not enough. We have to name the beast, nail our colours to the mast, and risk everything for a fundamental Christian vision of social justice.


MIKE WILLIAMS,
51 Cotswold Drive,
Horwich,
Bolton BL6 7DE

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