Monday, April 19, 2010

The grass is green and it's time to step into the fray.

When a politican comes on TV and says, as they occasionally do, that their faith is a private matter and doesn't impact their politics it's a nonsense. It's like hearing that grass is orange and houses are built from the tip of their roof upwards.

Everyone's assumptions about the world around them - their beliefs - impacts their thinking and their actions.

I long to see God's 'kingdom come on Earth as it is in heaven' - a kingdom of justice, reconciliation,peace,  creativity and freedom for each person to be who God has made them to be. Every time God breaks through into our society in these ways His kingdom extends.

So when I'm figuring out which political party to support that's where I'm coming from.

Which parties and individuals are most likely to be open to breaking down the structures of economic, social and relational injustice that imprison both rich and poor? Who will best challenge lies, mistrust and hypocrisy both institutional and personal  that contaminates our society and pulls us into a slough of cynacism? Who will listen to the people, but show courage and leadership in addressing our economic woes - for 'without vision the people perish'?

These are tough questions and it's not possible that any one party will come out well in every area. It can be difficult to see how a particular vision works out in practical policies, but much better to make your best guess than keep that vision locked in an ivory tower, clean and untouched, but useless.
I've always been hesitant to openly supporting a political party - too much commitment for a gen-Xer like me, but sometimes you've got to step from the sidelines into the fray.

So I've nailed my colours to the Green Party flag this time round.

Like Labour, the Green Party are passionate about reducing inequality and poverty. Like the Tories they see the importance of building communities from the bottom up - the government can't solve everything. Like the Lib Dems the Greens are strong on freedom of conscience, religion and liberties.

Unlike any of the main parties the Greens grasp that our relationships with each other and the world around us has a central and profound effect on our wellbeing.

The Green Party offer a coherence in this area that is strikingly absent from the three main parties. The Greens argue that we need to break free of an economy and culture locked into over consumption and materialism so that people are enabled to do what  most of us want to do - feel safe in our society, spend time with their families and contribute sustainably to the communities around us.

We work the longest hours in Europe and commute two hours a day and risk living to work and destroying our own hopes, our relationships and the planet. The Greens have a raft of proposals that would encourage a positive cultural shift - to promote local shops, jobs and services and want to move towards a time where a 35 hour working week is the norm.

Whilst some people run around like headless chickens in a rat race others don't get the support they need to find work that provides purpose and an opportunity to contribute or get paid a derisory minimum wage that leaves them with the stress of poverty or embarrassment of claiming benefits or aren't recognised for the role of caring they do. The Greens would increase income tax for higher earners, pay everyone a 'citizen's income' to support families and carers, invest in hundreds of thousands of Green jobs and raise the minimum wage towards £8.10 per hour.

The people I've met and heard who are in the Green Party are passionate about seeing positive and concrete change, aren't afraid to say and do  the right thing  even when it's unpopular and have deep flowing, well thought through philosophy and values.

Of course I don't agree with everything they say (nuclear power and faith schools spring to mind) or even all of their underlying thinking (I might write on this another time), but these are people who best fit the questions above that come out of my faith. I respect their character, values, commitment and policies which means I can look people in the eye and say 'It's worth voting Green'.


  1. I don't know where you got the idea that Tories want to "build communities". I can't think of an organisation that's done more to destroy communities, society and everything else they could in the systematic pursuit of the narrow interests of the wealthy and powerful.

    The Conservatives are like people who say they would love to support charities, but don't because the money will only be wasted on administration. The Tories believe in "building communities" only as far as it lets them cut services for the poor, and taxes for their rich supporters and big business.

  2. Bravo and well said, etc. For some reason people look at government and don't see the moral dimension, which is probably why we tolerate (and almost expect) the shocking corruption and cynicism that is, by now, built into our society.

    Our religious beliefs reveal more than just our upbringing and tradition, they reveal our worldview and "values" - in the US a codeword for bigotry and small-mindedness, but still a concept that shapes everything that we do.

    The only thing that baffles me is this - you and I seem to have incredibly similar political views, to the point where I have trouble naming any points of contention, but our religious views are practically diametrically opposite...

  3. Chris, I know that you think I'm naive to believe that the Tories think of anything but money. However they're the only ones of the main 3 that have talked consistently over the last couple of years about intentionally strengthening civic society and communities.

    The Tories have always had a strand that promotes this type of local activism and we're not in the 1980s anymore. See this for a start.

    Labour's idea of building communities is to organise it for people and tell them exactly what to do. I'm not saying the Tories will do anywhere near as much as the Greens, but at least they understand the problem.

    Thanks Duncan, I'm not ignoring your comment - I just don't know if I've got an answer either....thinking on it...