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The General Election – Final Week

This is my last ‘guide’ to what it seems has been an endless election. The General Election Form Guide – Week Five  Even from afar it is has been the most depressing, dumbed down and dishonest election I have ever witnessed.  Social media has not exactly enabled constructive engagement.   Identity politics has only increased the tribalism.  The political leaders have hardly covered themselves in glory.   

All of the parties promise what they know they can’t deliver.  The Tories promise Brexit and a fresh start – it won’t be that easy.  They have a leader who has ducked the hard questions as easily as he has ducked his moral responsibilities.    Labour promises to save the NHS and spend £1 trillion on goodies which only the top 5% of taxpayers will pay for. They have a leader who is described by his own health secretary as a danger to national security and whose encouragement of anti-Semitism is to say the least disturbing.     The Liberals have had a disastrous campaign with one of the most illiberal attacks on the UK and a leader who cannot even define what a woman is! The SNP have also had a poor campaign – making the mistake of campaigning on Brexit.  Their leader has run a presidential campaign for the UK – even though she cannot be elected and her aim is to break up the UK!    All promise Nirvana.  All will fail to deliver.

Voting for Labour won’t save the NHS, voting for the Tories won’t deliver Brexit, voting for the SNP won’t deliver independence and voting for the Lib Dems won’t deliver liberalism. This is an election, even more than usual, of false promises, hopes and fantasies.

Screenshot 2019-12-11 21.27.40

 

It’s a mad world – where the Brexit party could end up being the reason that Brexit ultimately does not happen.  It’s a mad world where abortion on demand is promised by Labour and Lib Dems – and no one bats an eyelid.  It’s a mad world where the richer you are, the more ‘progressive’ you are –  the more you will claim to be voting for the poor – by voting for the Kensington Socialists. The poorer you are the more likely you are to vote Tory. Strange topsy turvy world.

I am so thankful that my hope is not in politicians, but in Christ.   The words ‘In Christ alone my hope is found” seem particularly apposite.  But my hope in Christ does not take away the pain of watching my country slowly destroy itself.  I weep – but not as those who have no hope.

Rather than go through the many e-mails and news items I have I thought I would just simply give you this article I wrote in the AustralianBible Society’s Eternity magazine.  You can get the original here. 

Be grateful you’re not British – the UK goes to the polls

A Brit dissects election issues in his ‘disunited kingdom

Britons go to the polls on December 12, so it will soon be over. Praise the Lord! The Great British General Election has been anything but great. In fact, for this Brit in Oz, it has been embarrassing. The UK election has managed the almost impossible task of making Australian politics look clean, reasonable and intelligent.

One thing that does encourage me is the prayerful interest many Australian Christians take in what is going on on the other side of the world. Such is the importance of prayer to the desperate political situation in the UK that I want to begin and end this article with Paul’s injunction in 1 Timothy 2:1-2 that “petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people – for kings and all those in authority.”

What are the issues?

Brexit – This was supposed to be the Brexit election – and to some extent it has been. “Get Brexit done,” has been the Conservatives’ mantra. The Liberal Democrats (Lib Dems) have the slogan “Stop Brexit”, while the Brexit Party urges voters to “Help us fight for a real Brexit”.

The Scottish Nationalists have morphed into the EU Nationalists and are campaigning on “Stop Brexit”. The Labour Party has the head-spinning message: “we are going to negotiate a new deal and then campaign against our own deal in a new referendum.”

The bigger divide is between the young and the older, with young voters overwhelmingly left-wing and older generations generally supporting Brexit.

It seems as though voters are splitting along Brexit lines – with a majority of working-class voters choosing to vote for the Tories (Conservative Party) rather than Labour, and the majority of wealthy middle-class voters choosing to vote for the socialists. But perhaps the bigger divide is between the young and the older, with young voters overwhelmingly left-wing and older generations generally supporting Brexit. Young people – more highly educated than their elders – seem to have been indoctrinated by their teachers in an increasingly politicised education system.

The National Health Service – The Labour Party is desperate to make the election about the NHS, because it is the one issue where it can claim some degree of ownership, having implemented it in 1948 with a core principle of free health care at the point of need. All kinds of rumours and “secret documents” about the mooted sale of the NHS to the Americans have been reposted endlessly on social media – the latest one something of an embarrassment to the Labour Party. It turns out that it was leaked by the Russians (and Labour has been complaining about Russian involvement). The truth is that nothing is up for sale. No political party would dare. The NHS is the nearest thing that secular Britain has to a religion. To question it is to commit blasphemy and political suicide. No one is prepared to face up to the fact that the National Health Service itself is sick. Having recently moved to Australia from Britain, I contrasted the NHS and the Australian system of Medicare on my blog.

Anti-Semitism – The surprise of the election is how much of a defining issue anti-Semitism has become. While all parties have faced difficulties, it is the Labour Party and its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, who have had to face the music on this. Why? As I point out in my blog, traditional ingrained anti-Semitism, combined with Islamic anti-Semitism, has now been joined by left-wing anti-Semitism. This is seen in the radical Left, and especially in the extreme Left of the Labour Party. Corbyn says he opposes anti-Semitism, but he supports those who are clearly anti-Semitic – Hamas, Hezbollah and some of the more radical Islamic groups. Despite the denials, it was telling that Corbyn refused to apologise for anti-Semitism in his party during an interview with the BBC’s Andrew Neil.

The Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, in a column in The Times last week, said the “overwhelming majority of British Jews are gripped by anxiety” at the prospect of a Corbyn-led government. The latest revelation is that the Jewish human rights organisation, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, has announced that the UK will become a pariah state for Jews if Corbyn is elected to power. It really is quite astonishing.

Socially ‘regressive’ issues – Both the Labour Party and the Lib Dems have declared their support for the decriminalisation of abortion and for the right of people to self-identify as whatever gender they want to be. The Tories want to demonstrate that they are no longer the “nasty” party and so tend to go along with whatever is deemed to be socially progressive (although it is, in both historical and moral terms, “regressive”). Such is the dominance of the new ideology that even the Brexit Party expels those who dare to dissent.

The economy – This has been almost laughable, with both the Tories and Labour producing economic plans that The Financial Times calls unsustainable. Every day new billions are promised in what are called “fully costed” plans. Labour is offering more than $2 trillion of goodies – from one-third off rail fares, to free tuition for students, $100 billion for extra pensions and billions for the nationalisation of the railways and other utilities. The majority of these subsidies appear to be freebies for the middle classes, with all of this to be paid for by the top 5 per cent of taxpayers! It’s doubtful whether anyone believes this, but in today’s fantasy world, who knows!

What will happen?

The Conservatives have had a relatively smooth campaign – with the biggest hiccup being Boris Johnson’s refusal to be interviewed by the BBC’s most incisive interviewer, Andrew Neil. It looks like cowardice – because it is.

The worst thing for the Tories has been the dreadful campaign by the Lib Dems who were expected to split the “Remain” vote. They have dropped from 23 per cent in the polls to about 11 per cent. This benefits Labour, which would be in with a real chance of forming the government if they had retained their Scottish seats. The Scottish Nationalists (SNP) are also beginning to get worried – with the latest poll having them only 10 per cent ahead of the Tories, and a fall in the support for Independence.

Ironically, it could be the Brexit party that prevents Brexit!

The Brexit Party has stood aside in Conservative seats but are still standing in seats that the Conservatives need to gain. Thus, there is a real possibility that it will be the Brexit Party (combined with tactical voting) that could deny the Conservatives a majority. Ironically, it could be the Brexit party that thus prevents Brexit!

The opinion polls all seem to be pointing to a substantial Conservative victory. But there has been a narrowing, so there remains significant doubt. The trouble for the Tories is that they have no allies, and so need to win a clear majority. Labour will get the support of the Lib Dems and possibly 50 SNP seats. I find it inconceivable that a semi-Marxist anti-Semite could soon be the Prime Minister of the UK, but then I found it inconceivable that a reality TV star would become President of the US, or a comedian the president of Ukraine! It’s a strange world.

I cannot predict the result, but I can, with sorrow, say this: for the first time in my life, I will not be voting. I have a proxy vote – if I could, I would enter the voting booth myself and write “none of the above”, but I can’t ask someone else to do that for me. And so, I am a conscientious abstainer. Instead I will do the only thing I can do – fall on my knees and plead with the Lord to have mercy on my poor, confused and disunited kingdom.

P.S. If I am still around later in the week, we will have a look at the results!

David Robertson is a British pastor and writer who is heading up a new evangelistic ministry in Australia called Third Space, which is sponsored by City Bible Forum.

The General Election Form Guide – Week Four

Staying Christian amid ‘Brexit Derangement Syndrome’ – Eternity Magazine

 

PS.  No sooner had posted this than I read Alex Massie’s reasons for conscientious abstention…I agree wholeheartedly!

13 comments

  1. Although there are a number of things on which you and I differ in our views on a number of things, I share your depression about this election. And I am inside it, not on the other side of the world. The choice really is not attractive.

    I agree with you that 1 Tim 2:1-2 is the foundational text on this subject. In a parish newsletter at the time of a previous election, having quoted those verses, I wrote,
    “The people Paul was writing to were powerless to influence who ruled them. We have votes. We are answerable for how we exercise them. But Paul’s test remains valid. Who do you think will best leave you free to ‘live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness’ – i.e. to get on with living faithfully?”

    I also said,
    “For those unsure, think perhaps of weighing these three criteria against each other, and applying that balancing exercise to three separate elements,

    The criteria are:-
    1. Policies; what do they say they will do?
    2. Integrity; are they honest? Do I trust them? and
    3. Competence; are they any good?

    And the elements to apply this too, separately, are:-
    1. The candidate where you live,
    2. The party they represent, and
    3. Its leadership team.”

    I went on from there to say,
    “We are each entitled to do that balancing for ourselves. The conclusion I reach may legitimately be very different from yours.

    The only extra comment I’d add is this. If you were thinking of voting for a person and party, and any of those tests throws up not just a low score, but a negative, then perhaps reflect again.”

    In that election, I also said,
    “There are good and bad reasons for voting for most candidates and it’s virtually unknown for any political party to be God’s cause. There are people and causes no Christian should vote for but that isn’t likely to apply to any of the three main parties that will be contesting our local seats. More importantly, we remain called to love each other, irrespective of how they vote. If there is someone I’d sooner be operated on without anaesthetic than vote for, that doesn’t make it wrong for you to – and vice-versa.”

    This time round, there are aspects of this election and the choices most of us are being offered which mean that even with some of the main parties, I don’t think one can say that. There are very serious negatives that are objective rather than subjective ones.

    I don’t personally like either Mr Corbyn or what he stands for. His vision for society is the East Germany of Walter Ulbricht. Whether in his heart he is anti-Semitic I am not sure. He has, though, tolerated it to a level comparable to those who over the years in Ulster have only condemned the gunmen on the other side, on the grounds that one lot are terrorists but the others are ‘our boys’ who might occasionally have gone a bit too far.

    Personally, though, it is with Mr Johnson that I have an even bigger problem. My apologies for saying this on a Christian website, but the level of entitled arrogance and blustering duplicity arouses in me a visceral distrust and anger which I find disturbing. Is this simply unregenerate emotion – just subjective, something for which I desperately need to repent? Is this my spirit within me trying to tell me something fundamental – something that might be objective? Or even, are there elements of both? Suffice to say that both on the evidence from before he called the election and since, I do not think he is someone who is suitable for high office. For me, this taints his entire leadership team. Power is conferred on people as trustees for the rest of us. I do not think he, and so they, have the integrity to be entrusted with it.

    I think you are unduly kind in your assessment of his party’s intentions for the NHS.

    I can’t comment on the SNP. I’m not in Scotland. It’s raison d’être has major implications for the country of which I am a citizen. However, in the other three parts of it, none of us can vote either for it or against it.

    Although there are things I don’t agree with them about, I don’t have the aversion to the LibDems you have, but they aren’t standing where I live.

    I am not as ideological as many people are. This makes the personal qualities of the key players particularly significant. And where the national parties are so unappealing, that makes the personal calibre of “the candidate where you live” especially significant.

    I can’t think of any potential Conservative candidates whom I respect which the Party in the months leading up to the election hasn’t either ejected or induced to retire. I suspect, though, that the only reason the same isn’t quite so true of the Labour ones whom I respect is that their party hasn’t been as successful in deselecting them.

    So I agree. The political leaders have not covered themselves in glory. The situation is depressing.

  2. To anyone in the same situation as you and considering throwing away a vote, and frankly I d do the same if I had the British nationality. If you do live in East Dumbartonshire or if you want to vote against Ian Blackford please consider the Scottish Family Party. The plan is to be on more ballots from 2021 onwards, please look it up, pretty sure you will actually like their vision.

  3. Thank you, David, for this series of comments on the UK election. As an ex Brit. I found them very insightful.
    My only concern is your final comment “so, I am a conscientious abstainer”.
    I would make the same response I made prior to the last USA election when some American Christians said they could not vote for either main Presidential candidate.
    There comes a time when one must vote to keep someone OUT, rather than vote because you support the other candidate. In that election, if all the ‘good/moral’ people had not voted Trump, Hillary would have won and she had very similar policies to J Corbyn. Therefore, not voting at all was in effect a vote for Hillery.
    I don’t like Boris, or the current conservative party, BUT, if could vote, I would have to vote for them, simply because they are clearly the lesser of two/three/four evils.
    If all the ‘good’ people’ don’t vote, Corbyn will be the next PM and the radical ‘regresive left’ will be in control.
    Only God could help the UK if that happens – with fire and brimstone perhaps!!!

  4. I have read with interest your election series.
    I cannot agree that “none of the above” is a solution or satisfactory way of voting especially for a Christian. It, in my opinion, is far better to vote for the less offensive local candidate especially as in my case it may avoid the election of the illiberal Lib Dem (you described the party as being unworthy of a Christian’s vote).

  5. Sorry Peter, I don’t fully agree. We are first and foremost Christians and our allegiance is to God, before ‘king and country’. We must vote in accordance with what our conscience permits. I spoiled my vote today for this very reason.

  6. Surely a vote against the parties that will decriminalise the extermination of a class of people, the unborn capable of independent life, is worthwhile, nay, incumbent upon us as Christians?
    True for anti-Semitism too?
    Upholding a democratic vote to Leave? Or at least to try? Seems defeatist to say not possible?
    All these seem major determing issues to me.
    The NHS has been partially opened up to private cos for years under Lab and Cons and anti-competition EU laws make it inevitable in the long run now despite some protection for social medical care. Brexit can protect it from outside influence – not that the NHS is perfect.
    The character of the leader is surely secondary, given the policy choices?
    ‘When good men do nothing’ pertinent here?
    Perhaps I’m too simplistic.

  7. Thanks David, you’re very astute as always, and prayerful too. It’s all over now, and we have big Conservative majority, so there you go. However, one of your statements stood out to me, because I totally disagree with the following:

    “… the biggest hiccup being Boris Johnson’s refusal to be interviewed by the BBC’s most incisive interviewer, Andrew Neil. It looks like cowardice – because it is.”

    Actually I don’t think it was cowardice, I think it was Boris’s refusal to be dictated to by the media. It was simply the Prime Minister exercising his prerogative to say ‘no’ to a demand on his time. Most of those TV interviews are really a waste of time because it’s impossible to address every possible topic properly due to their confrontational nature. So I think Mr Johnson should be respected for what he refused to do.

  8. Grahame, one of the teachers in my school used to say that to any question that starts ‘Surely’, the answer is almost invariably ‘No’.

    I don’t like abortion any more than you do, but I don’t use it as the one touchstone on which to decide who to vote for. As I said,
    “We are each entitled to do that balancing for ourselves. The conclusion I reach may legitimately be very different from yours.”

    Besides, there’s no party that campaigns to protect unborn children or that is willing to question, yet alone challenge, the mantra of ‘a mother’s right to choose’.

    With another ‘surely’, you say that, given the policy choices, the character of the leader is secondary. To me, it isn’t.

    As it happens, the psalm for last night in the church community I belong to was Psalm 73. The psalmsandpsimilar version, includes the verses,

    “3. Because I envied those puffed up; ~ I saw the bad at peace.
    4 For them no pangs or frightened death, ~ their bodies, sleek, obese.

    5. They are not troubled, are not harmed: ~ as others must address.
    6. With necklaces of pride, they clothe ~ themselves with ruthlessness.

    7. Their eyes gleam out through folds of fat: ~ their hearts fill with conceit.
    8. They mock; they speak oppressively ~ and haughtily browbeat.

    Does that remind you of anyone? It does me.

    The psalm goes on to say,

    “15. If I had said, “thus shall I speak”, ~ your offspring I’d betray.
    16. But when I tried to puzzle this ~ it was too much to weigh.

    17. Until I came into your shrine: ~ then did I comprehend.
    For once I gained God’s holy place ~ I understood their end.

    18. Truly, you place them where they slip, ~ to ruin bring them down.
    19. How suddenly are they destroyed, ~ by terrors overthrown.”

    Unlike many, I don’t think since the resurrection that God attaches much significance to the rise and fall of nations through history. He is, though, I believe, very concerned about how individuals behave, the moral decisions we take or ignore, irrespective of whether we are small or great. The only differences between us and them are that their actions affect many more other people, and the temptations of power are such that few have the calibre to resist them.

    Neither agreeing with you on Brexit, nor getting more votes than your opponents can redefine a sow’s ear as a silk purse. Like Donald Trump, this man is not Cyrus. If people must have someone from the scriptures to liken him to, Belshazzar is the better choice.

    The anxiety I have is what that means for the rest of us, how much damage he and his team will inflict on the people of these unhappy islands before he falls.

    1. Well perhaps your old teacher was wrong! No it’s not the only issue but not every issue is as important – literally life and death for a specific group of people – as in late abortion. I worry that Christians rate it as ‘just one issue’. At what point does one issue become paramount? I think vicious anti-Semitism is also not just ‘one issue’. These issues are also pointers to a more fundamental underlying worldview at odds with a Christian morality.
      There is surely (!) a stark difference between parties that actively promote such a thing and those that don’t?
      The Resurrection doesn’t mean we should disengage with the running of the world or the relative merits of the parties. Salt and light. I think God is concerned with individuals and with nations for He is no different now as He was in the OT only the means by which He relates to us.
      Of course it’s always a choice between the lesser of evils in politics but isn’t that choosing better than inaction? If holiness was the main criterion we wouldn’t vote for anyone! I think of Cromwell’s Barebones parliament of holy men – a total failure as people need ability not only godliness!

  9. I am ardently pro-life. I also voted for Brexit because of my strong reservations about the EU and what I perceive to be its undemocratic nature. However, it was not just the plight of the unborn or the status of democracy in this country that should have been considered by voters in this election. It was also the suffering of countless thousands of other people made in the image of God, whose lives have been devastated by ruthless austerity cuts to our public services. If you don’t believe me check out the toll of 10 years of Tory government on working class families, the elderly, the mentally ill etc which is well documented by organisations like the following: https://fullfact.org/election-2019/ Many of these people make up some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in our society. Is this something a thinking Christian can easily dismiss as being of secondary importance?!? or a lesser evil? I honestly don’t know how you can make such a moral calculation or determination based on scripture given God clearly hates all these injustices. That is partly among other reasons, why my conscience prevented me from voting for any of the major parties and the reason for my protest vote. I suspect this was probably the reason for other people doing the same.

    1. Can you explain why, if it is the Tories who are directly responsible for the poverty of working class families – so many voted for them? I would suggest that the situation is a little bit more complex and that a thinking Christian as you say – should think through those issues. But I also could not vote for any of the parties this time.

  10. Yes issues like this are complex..but I believe Brexit was the biggest factor that swung the working class vote. As Corbyn rightly said: “this was the Brexit election!” I believe this is the case for the following reasons: 1) so many working class people turned out to vote leave in the referendum, and Boris’s ‘get Brexit done’ mantra appeared, on the surface at least, to ratify their collective voice. But I also think ‘Political fatigue’ had set in and so many ordinary people had become sick to the back teeth of the endless deliberations and utter incompetence exhibited by our government in delivering it. Yes, Boris had got us a lousy leave deal and resorted to highly questionable tactics along the way, but even a lousy deal looked appealing compared to the endless political uncertainty that was casting such a shadow over our country. I dare say ‘Brexit fatigue’ swung a considerable amount of remainers to vote Tory in the end as well. I mean, what was the alternative? There really was no tenable one offered by the other major parties.
    Of course, there were other factors at play here as well…Its worth mentioning that this was one of the dirtiest elections in living memory and the PR blunders suffered by all the main candidates along the way surely had some influence. But ultimately I think Brexit had become a touchstone issue for many people within the working class and Boris’s weaponisation of it at political rallies and TV debates (the ones he turned up to) played straight into this zeitgeist. The sad thing is though, were so many other important issues concerning social justice that desperately needed to be addressed, but which were trumped by the Brexit idol. Had Andrew Neil
    got the opportunity to interview Boris, I think the hollow sham of his ‘Getting Brexit done’ might have been better exposed! but would it have made a vital difference to public opinion in the end..maybe not. Personally I’m left wondering now if voting leave will be worth the cost the ordinary working class voter will pay for it and they certainly won’t get what they thought, unless of course you assume the ordinary voter knows about the time frames involved in negotiating a trade deal with the EU and the US and the divorce payments our country will continue to pay fo leaving the EU until the end of 2020. This country needs Gods mercy more than ever!

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