Wednesday, 5 May 2010

some thoughts on the UK election: part 5

We are getting quite a bit of coverage on the issue of a 'hung parliament' and the question of 'tactical voting'. So I thought I would share some thoughts along those lines.
democracy |diˈmäkrəsē|
noun ( pl. -cies)
a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives :
As believers we are to 'obey the king' that is to say we are to take our place as citizens in the society where God has placed us. The simple definition of democracy I have used here could easily be expanded into whole books on the topic but the essence is that those eligible to vote usually vote for a representative. In the UK we have a representative democracy. We elect our representative and authorise him/her to make decisions on our behalf. So how would a believer view the prospect of voting for a member of parliament he does not really want but in order to 'spoil' the chances of one party over another?

Yesterday I heard three separate politicians make their comments. One said 'vote with your head'; he meant go for the tactical vote which spoils another party's chance of government. Another said 'vote with your heart'; he meant choses your personal representative. Another said 'vote with your conscience'; which also means vote for your personal representative. This opens up a whole can of worms. Technically in the UK we don't elect a political party, we elect members of parliament. The party which ends up with most members of parliament is invited, by the Queen, to form a government. This must all seem unbelievably quaint to my republican readers!.

During the time of people like Wilberforce 'party politics' was a much more fluid thing and even into living memory a great parliamentaran like Winston Churchill changed parties twice, from Conservative to Liberal and later back from Liberal to Conservative. Things have become much more frozen now and it is interesting to note that all the major contenders for the premiership would probably regard themselves as Gladstonians.. who was a Liberal! In modern times the party machine has controlled our democracy and you will frequently hear the phrase 'voting for a party' although in its purest form our system doesn't vote for a party but for a local member of parliament.

So how should a believer vote? Surely 'with his conscience'. To do otherwise is to manipulate the political machinery and calls the essence of democracy into question. In a couple of days we in the UK will be invited to take our citizen duty in a general election. Our duty is not to enter into the power politics of 'moral majorities' and 'tactical voting' but simply to do as we are asked... who do you choose to be your personal representative in the next parliament?