Ok – this is my last political comment (at least until next week!). Those of you who think a Christian should not make political comment, look away now. But this is my personal blog – and I feel free to express my feelings and thoughts honestly here (and you can feel free to respond). None of this is personal about any individual. Nor is any of it the official opinion of my Church or Solas – which is why this article is not on their web pages, although I know many who share these thoughts. I am talking about the current political situation we find ourselves in and how I feel about it. It is for me highly personal. There are some details here that some will find disturbing. If you are of a sensitive nature then I would suggest you stop reading now!
If you want a musical version then this song by that great British band, The Who is a fairly accurate summary of my feelings: Watch and weep!
Thatcher and Tears
There are two times I have wept over a political result – first in 1979 when Mrs Thatcher was elected. Even as a 17 year old I was a bit of a political geek and had read her whole manifesto – I believed it. I knew she meant it and was a woman of conviction. I knew the devastation she would wreck on some parts of an already devastated Britain. And this morning I weep tears for Scotland. Why?
You’ve Had Your Chance
Perhaps one day I will explain why I think Britain is broken and Scotland has rejected a great chance to create a better society. But for now this quote from Radio 4 this morning sums up what we have just done. Two journalists from the Times and the Telegraph were discussing the result and then opined “this is not the end of the independence debate for a generation, but forever” before going on to explain that in the future Scots would be too old and too poor to vote for independence. One admitted that the time to vote for Independence would have been now because of the oil. But in the future we would be too late. So there you have it. According to the Elites in London we’ve had our chance! We have just voted for an eternal dependency culture! This was only made worse by a classic BBC headline from this morning – ‘London remains the capital of the UK’! And then added to by Nigel Farage tweeting a picture of himself sending a letter to every Scottish MP telling them not to vote in the British parliament on English matters.
I Told You So
I hate to say I told you so but I told you so. Those who voted emotionally for the Union because they like being British (like those who voted for independence because they like being Scottish) were in my view both wrong. Likewise those who voted No because of the feared economic consequences or those who voted Yes because they perceived greater riches. This was about political control and democracy. We tasted it. It felt good. But we have decided not to hold the glass for ourselves and we now wait to be spoonfed by our masters. As one disillusioned voter in Inverness stated, it is ‘the same old, same old” (despite all the fine soundbites of the politicians). Thats why the currency market speculators raised the pound to a two year high this morning (Britains balance of payments can still be underwritten by North Sea oil) and thats why the city is exultant. The Huffington Post reported “The markets couldn’t be happier with the outcome, and the British pound is on the rise”. It’s why NATO announced their joy and why RBS welcomed it. It is business as usual. I realise that for some people (especially those who are doing well out of the system), that is good news. But for others it is just another kick in the teeth – a lesson that they should not let their hopes be raised. Ever. For me it is heartbreaking. My whole point in this from the beginning was noting to do with narrow nationalism but that we were allowing Britain to be governed by the markets at the expense of the poor and so it has proved to be. We protect the Banks and we create Food banks.
I don’t believe the politicians (and that includes Mr Salmond, for whom I am no apologist, although to be fair it is important to realise the independence movement had moved way beyond him). I think David Cameron is being patronising when he goes on about the wonderful example of democracy we have just seen in Scotland (which it was) and how we must ‘keep that spirit’. Does he not realise that the reason people were so engaged was because they saw an opportunity of taking power away from the elites like himself? They really hoped they could make a difference. That hope is gone. Walk the streets of the schemes in Dundee this morning and ask people how exultant they are that the politicians are going to get more devolved power from other politicians – all under the watchful eye of the markets! I think David Cameron believes as much in giving power to ordinary people as he does in marriage – his assurances and profession of both are totally meaningless.
Are the Poor too Stupid to Vote?
I heard one patronizing person ask why the turnout in Dundee and Glasgow was not as high as some other areas. Were the people stupid? Did they not really care? Actually the turn out was far higher than in previous elections. Dundee alone had 7,000 newly registered voters. I thought it was wonderful that so many previously disengaged people got involved. But there were some who still held on to the cynical position ‘don’t vote, it only encourages them, voting is not for people like us….it never makes any difference anyway’. This morning they will be turning to their neighbours and saying ‘see, we told you so..nothing ever changes’.
I don’t have faith in Britain because I believe Britain is broken. I think our central institutions are in many ways corrupt and that society is governed by the elites for the elites. I believe we really do need healing. And not healing from the referendum campaign which has in general been great for the nation – although I accept that it may have shaken up some of us our of our comfort zones and disturbed one or two dinner parties. But the real healing that is needed is so much deeper. It will not happen until what has caused that brokenness is dealt with. Bread and circuses does not cut it. Holding multifaith ‘services of reconciliation’ for the Establishment or encouraging people to ‘take a selfie with someone who voted different’ does not cut it. Such gimmicks are a shallow and superficial attempt to say that ‘things are ok, everything carries on as normal’. I don’t believe in that Establishment faith. I don’t want to put an elastoplast on the wound. I want heart not plastic surgery.
A Free Church Minister and a Socialist
This week I was sent the blog of a rather mocking American Christian commentator who was making fun of my being a Free Church minister and a socialist. I confess to being the former but I am not sure why he called me the latter. Actually I am – (‘sure’ that is…not a socialist). He read my comments in my earlier blogs about how our priority in society has to be the poor, and so in his eyes this makes me a socialist, which is to him equivalent to a Satanist. Well I don’t believe in socialism without Christ nor do I believe in capitalism without Christ. But I do believe in Christ and I take his words seriously. He came to preach the Good News to the poor – not many wise, not many influential, not many rich were called. He came to heal the broken and challenge the idolatries of society – not prop them up.
I don’t preach politics from the pulpit. I don’t make political disagreements a matter of fellowship. I don’t questions others ministry or Christianity because of their political views. I am happy to fellowship with Conservatives and Socialists, Republicans and Democrats, Nationalists and Unionists. Can I make a simple request that those of my Christian brothers and sisters who do regard their political views as synonymous with their Christianity, that they learn to make the distinction and that they lay off!? Not just the out and out ‘Jesus was a Conservative/Communist’ people, but also the more pious, ‘I don’t think a minister of the Gospel should be expressing political opinions in public’ crew. That sounds wise and holy until you realize that they never write this on the FB pages of those who they agree with politically! If you are the kind of person who thinks a minister should not either a) have political opinions or b) not express them on his own blog then why are you reading this? You were warned at the beginning!
I Could Be Wrong
I confess my opinion about Scottish independence may be wrong, but my Christian motivation is not. I want whatever system best helps the poor and brings justice to all. It may be that the United Kingdom will do that. Although I can’t see how any system based on the gambling of the City of London can, but I stress again I could be wrong. I pray with all my heart that I am. I cannot help what I see but if the Lord spares me I hope that in ten years time I am writing an apology for being blind and not seeing it as it really is – as Britain makes a return to Christian principles, the poor are treated with dignity, the sick cared for, the orphans given homes, and we no longer subsidise the rich and demonise the poor into a dependency culture.
A More Radical Solution
In 1979 I had just become a Christian – I saw in the Gospel a far deeper hope and more radical solution that even Mrs Thatcher was offering and, as I wept, I dedicated myself to proclaiming the cause of Christ, where-ever He called me. Today I weep again for my country and I rededicate myself to that same cause. I don’t want to spend my time trying to steady the sinking ship. I want to man the lifeboats and rescue the drowning. I want to turn the world upside down. Is that so wrong?!