From: Bishops Laurie Green and Nicholas Reade, Belle Hill and Warnham Gardens, Bexhill
We are two retired but still very active bishops living in Bexhill who, like all your readers, are confronted by a looming election and many campaign slogans. This is a very critical time for Britain, and what a critical election we are now called to play our part in.
There’s the Brexit question, with all the attendant issues like the possible disruption of Europeans already at home here, but there’s lots more besides. And what should guide our choice?
We are being made to concentrate on the personalities of the leaders, and we do need to know they are trustworthy, but unless we actually meet someone it’s difficult to tell what they’re really like – especially when the media are controlling how we see them.
We won’t actually vote for the leaders of course but for our own local constituency candidates, and going to hear them in debate can help immensely. Many churches open their halls for just that purpose. Political debate can easily bring out the worst in people, and we see that in some politicians, so instead, we’ll be wanting to see if they can ‘disagree well’ as Archbishop Justin has put it.
Can they listen and think, as well as spout? And we must play our part too by listening carefully rather than jumping to conclusions about what we ‘think’ they believe.
But much more important than personalities are the policies because they indicate what Britain may look like in future – our own future and that of our children.
Christians will want to know if the picture is of a sharing future or a selfish future, a listening future or a shouting future. A peaceful future or a future of conflict. A sustainable future or a rip-off, me first, future.
We feel it’s best to have a check list like this rather than just make our decision on how well a candidate is presented.
For a vote simply based on what’s in my own interest rarely offers us the best Britain, or the best world. It’s a complex situation Britain faces and we all need to think hard and prayerfully, looking at all the options, policies, parties and people concerned before making our vote.
Throughout British history, many people have suffered to win the vote for ordinary people like us, so let’s not short-change democracy but use our votes both thankfully and wisely. And may God bless us all as we do – there’s a lot riding on it.
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