Tuesday, 6 April 2010

General Election called for May 6th

So, it's official; the British General Election will be held on May 6th.
Now comes the difficult part - who on earth to vote for? How to balance our vital concern for "life" issues - both at its beginning and its end and for issues of marriage and family life (on which none of the parties could be said to hold a consistently Christian much less Catholic position), the safeguarding of the position of faith schools and the protection of our civil rights, with those of our equally vital duty towards the poor and the underprivileged both at home and abroad?
The Church's agenda and that of secular politics can never entirely coincide, and in reality never have coincided, although we may be forgiven for thinking the gap has widened more than somewhat, particularly concerning the issues mentioned above, over the last thirteen years of this New Labour administration. The question remains whether any of the serious alternatives on offer will be any better, although it's hard to see how they could be much worse.
But I can't say I'm particularly optimistic at this stage, given up to now the almost obsessively 'on message' and 'politically correct' stance (in public at least) of  David Cameron's Conservatives (although there are some grounds for hope here in terms of educational policy, marriage incentives and a welcome recognition that our 'broken society' is in serious need of repair)  but even more especially, of the LibDems, Plaid Cymru and the Scottish Nationalists, which seem to be vying with one another as secularist parties of the centre-left. As for the narrow isolationists of  UKIP and the populist thugs of the BNP, the least said the better.
One could be left wondering whether there is very much of a real choice before us at all. However, "none of the above" won't be on the ballot paper and, in any case, abstention is hardly a responsible course of action to take given both our economic woes and the crisis of public confidence in the political process itself.
It's now time to examine prayerfully the promises and the published manifestos of the parties very carefully  indeed in the light of the moral and ethical teaching of the Church and, perhaps most importantly, given the state of our political and social culture, to look at the voting records of individual sitting M.P.s and the stated views of first time candidates on those issues which concern us most.
We could do far worse than begin here with the document 'Choosing the Common Good' published by the Catholic bishops of England and Wales: http://www.catholicchurch.org.uk/catholic_church/media_centre/press_releases/press_releases_2010/choosing_the_common_good
The bishops of the Church in Wales have produced this statement, together with a series of prayers:
Go here for election resources from the Church of England:

But for all of us, voting at all will inevitably involve difficult compromises and a certain amount of serious 'nose holding,' perhaps even a matter for the Christian of choosing the least worst option rather than a party or an individual whose views and policies we can completely endorse. Good luck! Pray for those who are standing for office, they need it!

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