Mark Reckless2
Democracy

Rochester & Strood: the Christian case for supporting Mark Reckless

 

According to the latest opinion polls on the wacky race for Rochester & Strood, the suave, educated, cultured and erudite Peter Perfect Mark Reckless is blazing ahead for Ukip, and the Conservatives are heading for (another) certain by-election defeat on 20th November, despite their local council candidate, the Pretty Penny Pitstopattractive” Kelly Tolhurst, having been selected by the people for the people. Labour’s Red Max Naushabah Khan appears to have given up altogether (which is odd, given that they held Medway until 2005), and the Ant Hill Mob Liberal Democrats have dissipated and dissolved completely: like the proverbial dead parrot, they have ceased to be.

But opinion polls are nebulous and fickle things, and some psephological clairvoyants think the Conservatives might just yet pull it off. We shall see.

Whatever the result of this jittery by-election, it isn’t likely to have any bearing at all on either the outcome of the 2015 General Election or the secure position of the Prime Minister. By-elections often throw up disquieting anomalies, and it is observed time and again that the people’s allegiances tend to revert to type when the stakes are higher. For all his faults, David Cameron remains an undeniable electoral asset to the Tories: with just six months until Judgment Day, he isn’t likely to face a leadership challenge. His personal ratings are consistently higher than anything Ed Miliband can muster (which comes as no surprise), and the Cameroon love-in has reportedly reached even the dizzy popularity heights of Dick Dastardly Nigel Farage (though nowhere near Boris [Mutley?]).

Given that Rochester & Strood is a two-horse race, and accepting that the task of the Christian in a representative liberal democracy is, as Augustine might have put it, to mitigate the evil and increase the good, how should Christians vote in this by-election?

Pace the Bishop of Willesden’s pulpit persuasion, it is not (and has never been) the Anglican way to direct the faithful in how they should vote (indeed, ‘should’ and ‘ought’ aren’t particularly politically Anglican at all): those who tend the flock and feed the lambs incline toward exhorting the imperative of moral discernment and the virtues of the autonomous conscience. No political party has a monopoly on the expression of biblical ethics. As Bishop Pete observes, there are Christians in all the main political parties – with the possible exception of Ukip, he muses, because they are “racist” (and so, presumably, antithetical to all that Jesus taught about strangers, neighbours and friends at night).

British Christians are naturally diverse in their view of human society, and so divided in their politics and political allegiance. We may disagree on the means of forging lawful and responsible government, but we are united on the ends of justice, peace, freedom and righteousness. Unlike many in the US, we tend not to vote along contentious culture-war lines or claim to be conscience-bound by Scripture: despite Labour’s liberal stance on moral matters of sexuality, embryo research and abortion, for example, an awful lot of Christians (including a majority of Roman Catholics) still incline toward the belief that Socialism inhabits and expresses a more coherently righteous, pastoral and compassionate ideology, and so is more contiguous with the ethical teachings of Jesus and the New Testament.

But increasingly we are seeing the fracturing and fragmentation of traditional political allegiances and the rise of single-issue activism: a holistic view of creation and society is giving way to a culture of individualism and self-interest. While the majority of voters in Rochester & Strood will doubtless vote in a general election to strengthen community by protecting the NHS, improving local schools and reducing crime, it is clear that issues like immigration are challenging their sense of identity and stretching tolerance to breaking point. In this constituency, a Survation poll suggests that concern over immigration is second only to Health and GP services. And, for as long as the UK remains a member of the EU with its enshrined principles of free movement, no Conservative, Labour or LibDem candidate can do anything to mitigate or control the influx: when it comes to Greeks, Spaniards, Romanians and Poles, our borders are open and unmanned.

Sadly, few voting Christians will be overly troubled by Kelly Tolhurst’s antipathy toward Israel and her naive support for boycott and sanctions against the only democracy in the Middle East and the only country in the region where Christians may live safely, worship freely, and aren’t subject to racial, religious, economic or social discrimination. But rather more Christians might be deeply troubled by the widespread acceptance of sex-selective abortion, and the realisation that the absence of political dissent and the refusal by the DPP to prosecute reported cases amounts to a de jure acceptance of gendercide in the womb. Abortion law has seemingly been changed by bureaucratic fiat: the BMA is complicit in the belief that “the effects of having a child of a particular gender (ie female) are so severe to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman as to provide legal and ethical justification for an abortion”.

Those who are concerned by this appalling gender abuse and wicked breach of equality might be interested to know that Mark Reckless has been pursuing transparency and justice for years. In fact, he has been more vociferous about abortion than he’s ever banged on about Europe or immigration. As vice-chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group, his focus has been on the moral case for reducing the abortion time-limit because of medical advances. As a member of the Home Affairs Select Committee, he interrogated the DPP Keir Starmer QC, demanding to know why, despite all the manifest evidence of crime and illegality, no doctors have been prosecuted either for authorising abortions without medical examination or terminating pregnancies because the foetus happens to be female. Here’s the video:

Bizarrely, Keir Starmer is of the view that the failure by the police and CPS to prosecute anyone for sex-selective abortion for over five years – including a high-profile case where the CPS agreed there was “sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction” – will make no difference at all to the number of girls aborted in the future. Despite being pressed to explain himself, the DPP babbled, squirmed and stalled. He did (eventually) provide the Committee with his promised reasoning for non-prosecution, but it failed to address any of the substantive points raised.

Contra the political articles of faith professed and preached by Bishop Pete of Willesden, Mark Reckless is a Christian Ukip-er – a Roman Catholic, to be precise (who is fully communicant with and a regular worshipper at Rochester Cathedral). He fought Rochester & Strood (/Medway) three times before winning, and so obviously knows the constituency just as well as (if not better than) the Tory local councillor Kelly Tolhurst. For Christians who care passionately about health, education, GP services, employment, transport, crime and anti-social behaviour, you’ll find little to distinguish Ukip’s Reckless from Tory feckless, Labour clueless, LibDem brainless or Monster Raving hopeless: in an election, all candidates will gush about their brand of motherhood custard and crusty apple pie.

But only one of these by-election candidates has a political solution to strengthen community cohesion by controlling immigration. And only one has a proven track record of pushing a deeply contentious moral issue, the consequences of which offend all who value life, justice and equality.

Occasionally one must move beyond tribal political identity and look to the individual. At least Bishop Pete is prepared to do that should a Ukip-er ever approach him about ordination. When such a scenario was put to him, the response was considered and reflective: “A UKIP-er is not a category of person,” he said. “The Church discerns the person” (except in the case of the BNP, but we’ll set that aside). If the Church discerns the individual’s calling, holiness, capability and compliance with the requirements of the ordinal, a fortiori should Christians discern each political candidate’s integrity, maturity, experience, philosophy and compliance with the requirements of the Bible.

Some Christian Tories (aka ‘Compassionate Conservatives’) might well cast a conscience vote in the direction of Frank Field, Tom Harris or Stephen Timms, notwithstanding the undeniable reality that Christian Socialists can’t quite bring themselves ever to reciprocate. A musing (on Twitter) that this by-election represents “a choice between Israel-hating @KellyTolhurst and gender-selective-abortion-busting @MarkReckless” received a revealing response from Bishop Pete, who volunteered (for he was neither cc’d nor RT’d) that he would vote for “none of the above”. For him, neither Ukip nor the Tories offer the best solutions in working for the Common Good; neither articulates a political philosophy that might bring justice. These things “don’t tend to be served by right wing ideology”, he insists. “The proof is in the way they govern. More poverty. Culture of blame. Inequality. Nasty.”

Of course, the Bishop of Willesden is entitled to his opinion. But, in expressing it, it must be observed that he exposes a deeply flawed logic and broadcasts a manifest contradiction. When it comes to judging a holy vocation, the Bishop discerns the individual. But when it comes to assessing parliamentary representation, no one who subscribes to or advances “right wing ideology” should even be entertained, for they invariably increase poverty, rouse the blame culture and perpetuate inequality. They are, in short, “nasty”.

But Mark Reckless agitates for the very ethical equality which helps to diminish poverty, dispel prejudice and alleviate the intolerable depression of blame. Of course, not all Christians see a candidate’s view on abortion or even sex-selective abortion as having parity with the evils of benefit cuts or the ‘Bedroom Tax’. But this Ukip-er simply wants the baby in the womb to be recognised in his or her full humanity; bestowed with personhood and a recognised identity. And he earnestly desires to see this right enshrined in law and apply equally in the womb to potential girls as well as potential boys. The fact that Mark Reckless would not attract the votes of certain Anglican or Roman Catholic bishops and clergy in this matter only serves to reinforce the moral virtue of his candidacy.

  • Mark Wallace

    Worth noting the Conservative Party is set to outlaw Sex Selective Abortion in the Commons this week.

    • It’s a laudable effort on the part of Fiona Bruce which was covered generously and effusively in a previous post (31 Oct). But it must be observed that Ten Minute Rule Bills are inadequate instruments for effective law-making. There is not usually a vote, and MPs are not obliged to vote should one be called. If the Conservative Party qua Party desired to outlaw the practice, it would bring forward a Government Bill. No attempt to limit or mitigate abortion has succeeded in Parliament since 1991. This attempt by a Conservative backbencher may attract cross-party support, but it is not likely to result in statutory prohibition (for reasons the DPP and BMA have made clear), though we must hope and pray that it might.

      • …. and even if succeeds and becomes law, how would it actually be implemented and enforced? It would require oversight of the abortion decision making process and the clear will to prosecute all breaches of legislation.

        • CliveM

          Yes that would be interesting as the current law is already being successfully sidestepped.

    • James60498 .

      Really?

      • James60498 .

        As it appears that Mr Wallace is “claiming”this on behalf of the whole Conservative Party rather than just individual MPs, maybe it’s planned to be Cameron’s pathetic response to being challenged over “gay marriage”

    • Via a Ten Minute Bill? Oh, please. What are they doing about the flagrant abuses of existing legislation?

      • James60498 .

        HJ. Mark Wallace is the Executive Editor of conservativehome. Whilst they will no doubt claim to be independent of the Conservative Party it is effectively the Conservative Party’s Discussion Forum.
        And he seems to write all the articles on the UKIPwatch page.

        http://www.conservativehome.com/category/ukipwatch

        • *gasp* …………. the cunning blighter.

          • James60498 .

            Not particularly cunning personally.

            I had no idea who he was and it took me 30 seconds to find out.

            At a political level very and typically cunning.

            “Sorry, Mr Conservative Candidate. I will not be voting for you as David Cameron has allowed “Same Sex Marriage”. ”

            “yes he did” replies the candidate ” but he did ban Sex Selective Abortion”. ( Note in his comment it’s the Conservatives who will be doing it, not an individual MP)

            “oh did he? Well perhaps I may vote for you”.
            This would appear to be what this bill is about. And I regret to say that in a number of cases it may work.

          • Hi James,

            You can of course note the same thing about UKIP. It ostensibly calls itself “libertarian” and in theory shouldn’t have an issue with gay marriage, but the party deliberately opposed this measure to hoover up disaffected social conservatives. But in all honesty, can you see a UKIP government being able to repeal ssm or abortion laws? Or is UKIP simply exploiting the protest vote?

          • CliveM

            One of the problems with UKIP is that it is very good at being against something, but doesn’t have an underlying philosophy so it isn’t actually for anything.

          • The Inspector General

            How about God, Queen and Country. How’s that for a philosophical base, Clive.

          • Sounds good.

          • CliveM

            A noble sentiment, one I agree with, but not an underlying philosophical base. What principle will guide policy? You need more then an antithapy towards the EU and migrants to guide policy.

          • The Inspector General

            Well, Clive, did you know the Inspector has no antipathy towards the EU, and further, he can’t think of any associate with similar either.

            One wishes the EU well. It’s just that it is not in the UK’s interest to financially prop the thing up any longer. Of course, the migrants will have to go back too. Their countries need their talents more than the UK does.

            Pip Pip !

          • CliveM

            Ok I should have been more precise. Antipathy to continued membership of the EU!! Which btw I largely agree with.

            However I am still interested in better understanding what the guiding policy principles/philosophy are?

          • The Inspector General

            Heh. Parliament might end up as it started. Member’s being elected to represent their constituents interests, not some damn artificial policy they’re told to support…

          • CliveM

            So no underlying principle, but a pragmatic approach to policy?

            My concern with that is without an agreed philosophy you end up with contradictory and indeed clashing policies, tending towards chaos!

            Anyway God save the Queen and let us all again be her legal subjects and not European Citizens!

          • The Inspector General

            Your second para – Not at all Clive. You’re still stuck in the 20th century socialism-capitalism struggle. That’s over, capitalism won. We’ve moved on. Come with us old chap, do the right thing.
            Incidentally, the successful politicians of the future in the UK will be HONEST ones. No snouts in troughs or underhandity…

          • CliveM

            Regards your final paragraph, I do hope you are right. We certainly need more honest politicians (also a few more mavericks).

          • The Inspector General

            Always room for a few good orators in that house of shame, what !

          • CliveM

            As we are currently bereft of any, more then enough space!

          • CliveM

            Ps is underhandity a new word and do you have copyright!!

          • The Inspector General

            Yes. And it didn’t do Shakespeare any harm, did it ?

          • Phil R

            What underlying principles do the lib lab cons have?

            None it seems to me

          • Hi Clive

            Very much like the liberal democrats? (Although they were a mishap of social democrats and the more traditional remains of the old liberal party, which wouldn’t have had a problem with limited government etc).

          • CliveM

            Yes indeed. A lot of the froth surrounding UKIP reminds me of the early days of the Social Democrats.

          • DanJ0

            Quite.

          • The Inspector General

            Hannah, one of the principles of libertarianism is law and order. Take particular note of the latter. Order is what must be right. It does not include governments decreeing that black is also white.

          • Hi inspector,

            But what you’ve written here sounds more like traditional conservatism?

          • The Inspector General

            Libertarianism and conservatism are close relations.

          • carl jacobs

            No, they aren’t really. The Libertarian has more in common with Socialist. They both see the remedy to evil in terms of organizing externals. The difference between Socialist and Libertarian is in the external structure they desire to construct.

          • CliveM

            “They both see the remedy to evil in terms of organizng externals”

            Do they? Can you explain.

          • The Inspector General

            Rather think of libertarianism being the empowerment of the individual, to organise faith schools for example. To regulate government to be the servant it should be is another…

          • DanJ0

            You probably mean the Tory party has strands of libertarianism in its history as a result of merges with the Whigs and the Liberals, and the incorporation of free trade ideas and laissez-faire economics into the mix.

          • The Inspector General

            You have two poles. Libertarianism and Authoritarianism. Your choice. For example, Cameron and his lickspittles and the damned Lib Dems changed the definition of marriage without the mandate to do so. How’s that for a case of stinking authoritarianism…

          • James60498 .

            Hi Hannah

            In part, the answer to your final question is Yes. I am not a member of UKIP, and it is in part at least due to the fact that when you look at their website the first word you see is Libertarian. Whenever I see this I usually find something more important to do like wash my hair, or empty the dishwasher.
            I say in part as I have considered it anyway, once attending a couple of branch meetings at the invitation of a former Conservative council colleague. (incidentally this gentleman is now living in Israel and is probably not too impressed at the decision to sign up that new member of their parliamentary group).
            Having discussed these issues with members, and failed to have had replies from senior members, I do not believe for a second that they will repeal either of these laws or anything like them. Indeed whilst I have no doubt that some of their candidates would like to, I do not believe that party policy would allow it. I do understand though that Deputy Leader, Paul Nuttall is opposed to abortion in pretty much every case. That probably won’t bring a change in law, but at least suggests that he is a decent person.

            However, as always it is difficult to disagree with the Inspector, and I don’t. I do not believe for a second that they would have introduced the SSM laws. I also do not believe that under a UKIP Government we would have had a PM stand there and make a speech about the importance of Christianity whilst at the same time Government lawyers were at the European Court arguing that company employees had no right to wear a crucifix at work. (this is not a “let’s imagine” story, this did happen under Cameron).

            So no. UKIP are not the full answer. However they would be better.
            And this Conservative Party must be destroyed.

          • No harm in a little bit of dramatic hyperbole and posturing, James. Jack learned it from watching PM Question Time. These modern politicians are sly chaps.

          • James60498 .

            Sly

            I think that’s top of the Candidate Requirements List.

        • The Inspector General

          What !
          Declare your interest Wallace as a gentleman must, in a debate…

      • Martin

        It was the Conservatives who failed to prosecute for the illegal abortions. They still haven’t done anything about those abuses.

    • Phil R

      But you will still be able to murder your baby if it might be Downs, might be disabled, or simply don’t want it.

      No woman is going to to tell a Doctor that she wants a termination because of the sex of the baby……….

      Can this law be made to work? I very much doubt it but if it can, it means that potentially healthy girl babies are protected, whilst potentially disabled (Action T4?) or simply not wanted (at this time?) babies, are not.

      • Martin

        Phil

        And even if she does tell the doctor he will say that the abortion is because it will cause her mental problems. Abortion is clearly by demand & any legislation, short of banning, will have no effect.

      • DanJ0

        Reducing the primary abortion time limit to 20 weeks, scheduling the anomaly scan at 20 weeks, and outlawing disclosure of the sex of the foetus from previous scans might work sufficiently in practice. The rest is a matter of the social conditioning of certain sections of our society, which I’m sure can be changed over time with a bit of effort.

        • Phil R

          You are going to make it illegal to scan for the sex of the baby?

          Good luck to you on the social conditioning proposal.

          Are we talking coercive social conditioning here? What “sections of society” are you talking about?

          Also, “scheduling the anomaly scan at 20 weeks”. Whether the mother wants it or not? What if the scan throws up a potential for/of certain undesirable characteristics……… ?

          “Minority Report” for babies…..!

          • DanJ0

            It’d help both of us if you read it a little more carefully and a little less hysterically. Thanks.

          • Phil R

            It seems that you think of yourself as capable and intelligent and dismiss people you don’t agree with

            Not through respectful diligent argument but though ridicule and disdain.

          • DanJ0

            But I answered the “Can this law be made to work?” with a polite, reasonable, and respectful suggestion. What did you come back with? Good luck with … Minority Report for babies … coercive social conditioning … etc. That is, the worst possible interpretation, and mostly an incorrect interpretation. As I said, it’d help if you read more carefully and a little less hysterically.

  • The Inspector General

    Keep an eye on voter percentage turnout, chaps. Of the approx. 5 out of 10 who never participate at General Elections, or haven’t in a long while, 2 of them are now turning up at the polling booth. Of course, it would not do to speculate over the party they are turning up for !!

  • Owl

    YG,

    “for example, an awful lot of Christians (including a majority of Roman Catholics) still incline toward the belief that Socialism inhabits and expresses a more coherently righteous, pastoral and compassionate ideology, and so is more contiguous with the ethical teachings of Jesus and the New Testament.”

    I would have to disagree with you on this.

    A majority of RCs are of Irish descent and may have an inherited distrust of the Tories due to the Tories support of Ulster Unionists (power politics, i.e. votes counted for the Tories) with it’s inherent suppression of civil rights for part of the population.

    As the majority of these RCs tend to be conservative in outlook, Dave could have won over many of these if he hadn’t reneged on his “cast iron” promise. He screwed up badly and enhanced the view that one can’t trust a Tory.

    I would expect that many of these RCs will turn to UKIP and away from Labour. Labour was traditionally a default home for them simply because it wasn’t Tory, not because the RCs had any longing or sympathy with Socialists (certainly since the days of Stalin).
    Your comment stating that Dave is “an undeniable electoral asset” for the Conservatives at the next election also made me wonder. Is he really?

    • The corroborating evidence is clearly hyperlinked: it isn’t a matter of personal opinion, but of verifiable polling with a reliable methodology. Your “wonder” is at the people.

      • Owl

        YG,

        maybe I have missed something. I followed your link and got a Spectator article which made this statement. I didn’t see a poll.

        The majority of the comments didn’t seem to support this view either.

        As an example (curtesy of WatTylersGhost):

        “I see Cameron as Ukip’s greatest asset. Keep it up Dave”
        If I have looked in the wrong place, then my apologies.

        • Apologies: that should have (and now does) link to YouGov research on “Who would make the best PM?”, in which Cameron is invariably head, shoulders and half a torso above Miliband. Ergo he is an electoral asset.

          • Owl

            Thank you YG (although a comparison with Ed would only convince me that Dave is still amongst the living, nothing more).

          • it took 20 seconds to find this on YouGov. Your Farage gets 11% (page 8)

            http://yougov.co.uk/news/2014/10/12/full-results-yougov-sunday-times-101014/

          • Owl

            Is that, in your opinion, good or bad?

          • well i think it’s probably accurate. and that 11% or so will probably help ed miliband win the next election. do you think that is good, or bad?

          • Owl

            It will be bad if Ed wins. It will be bad if Dave wins.
            We need a big change in the political landscape. The major problem, at the moment, is that some misguided folk still give their vote to Dave rather than Nigel.

          • well, 11% of people agree with you, but in the end you’re going to help Ed! it might be exactly the same with Ed or Dave, but i don’t think so, and i don’t think you do either.

          • Owl

            Wrong!
            Ed and Dave are two sides of the same coin.
            They both have to go.

      • The Inspector General

        Cranmer, old man, allow the Inspector to elucidate upon what the Owl is getting at…

        The largest group of RCs in England are still the descendants of the recent Irish who came to England for work. Now, these people placed great import on their employment. After all, work was the only reason they came here. That meant a close involvement with the trade union movement, and it’s necessarily close relation, the Labour Party.

        Of course, they’re can be few honest Irish who don’t realise the terrible truth. That they were played for fools by the TU Reds, as these wreckers lost them their jobs through strikes.

        To suggest that the biggest part of English Roman Catholicism voted socialist for any other reason, and that includes some misheld belief that socialism is Christ’s message unravelled is not to understand the Irish over here at all.

        • Hi inspector,

          Does this mean that the Irish Roman Catholics have historically found a party which represented their bread and butter interests in the Labour party, with other issues such as abortion and gay rights as secondary considerations (when it comes to voting for candidates anyways)? I think this is true of America as well, where prominent Roman Catholics are in the democrat party, which in the US is mostly pro abortion and pro gay rights ?

          • The Inspector General

            Used to represent their interests. Now apparently, it represents what soft headed university undergraduates hold dear…

          • Hi inspector,

            It’s just interesting how groups vote for a particular party, even if it doesn’t necessarily go with that demographics outlook e.g. Roman Catholics and Jews are basically socially conservative, but tend to vote for centre to left candidates in the USA or in the UK Muslims vote Labour, despite being socially conservative as a group… so voting for a particular party must be more than philosophical belief .

          • The Inspector General

            Indeed Hannah. As for muslims and Labour, there you are why SSM would never have been actively supported by the socialists. Anyway, they’ll all be voting Respect soon enough as the first generation immigrants die off…

          • Hi inspector,

            Oy you’ve sworn in front of me :well the respect party is a swear word in my house (:

          • The Inspector General

            And so it should be. It will one day present muslim demands to us. There will be many of them…

          • Owl

            Of course Hannah.
            It has to have a practical basis.
            Besides the valid points that the inspector made and until the peace agreement in NI, voting Tory would have like turkeys voting for Christmas as far as Irish descent Rcs are concerned..
            Cameron had a god sent opportunity to change this, and he screwed it up so badly that the Tories will have to do without the Irish descent RC vote for a long time.
            Some, for lack of an alternative, will stay with labour and many (most?) will embrace UKIP.

          • Hi Owl,

            Well, in my own community, quite ironically, by swinging far to the left domestically and by embracing a Palestinian state before peace negotiations, Ed Miliband has seemingly managed to oversee the collapse of Jewish support for the Labour party ( I don’t just mean Maureen Lipman, whose as feisty as ever in defending Israel & speaking up against antisemitism). The Jewish news reported that 47% will vote Conservative, 29% Labour, 12% UKIP and only 5% liberal democrat.

          • CliveM

            Considering what the Conservative candidate in Rochester has been reported as saying, I take it the Tories are seen as the least bad party?

          • Hi Clive,

            I should have clarified this poll data was referring to the national picture for the general election next year: clearly no one would vote for the atrocious candidate the conservatives have in this by election. The article I read referred to the British election survey 2015, which is treasure trove of electoral information, for geek like me.

  • dannybhoy

    “But increasingly we are seeing the fracturing and fragmentation of
    traditional political allegiances and the rise of single-issue activism:
    a holistic view of creation and society is giving way to a culture of
    individualism and self-interest.”

    I see it another way.
    It’s the break up I think, of a monolithic party political complacency sustained by a vigorous apathy, riddled with self interest.

  • Uncle Brian

    [N]othing, it seems, will prevent Reckless from being elected as Ukip’s second MP in two weeks’ time. The Ukip momentum in Rochester & Strood now looks unstoppable.

    That reads like something Nige himself might have said in a moment of euphoria, but funnily enough it’s from the leader in this week’s Spectator, under the title How to fight Ukip.

    http://www.spectator.co.uk/the-week/leading-article/9355882/how-to-fight-ukip/

    • IanCad

      Thanks for the link UB.
      Oh Dear! Oh Dear! Still banging on about the referendum.
      Madness! Madness!

      • Madness! As if the united kingdom independence party cares about a referendum!

  • IanCad

    Even though a loyal Conservative, were I a resident of Rochester I would have to admit that Mark Reckless would have me crossing the Medway.
    The idiocy of promoting a Hamas candidate to retain this Tory seat is astonishing.
    True, it is too late to get rid of Dave, but he has got to go.

    • Uncle Brian

      … a Hamas candidate … now busily digging her own tunnel, down which she will shortly disappear.

  • carl jacobs

    My attitude towards Bishops could be fairly described as “Always keep a rope and a tree handy.” So perhaps I am a slight bit based. But this thread seems a great argument for disestablishment. A Christian leader should expound principles upon which people may decide how to vote. He shouldn’t be asserting partisan politics. (As an aside, this was the HUGE MISTAKE of the Christian Right in the US.) So when I hear bishops talking like this, I instinctively start checking the tree for branches of appropriate height and strength. But then I remember that these guys are in your government.

    There is an easy solution to the problem of bishops making partisan statements. You get them out of government, and tell them to shut up and do their real job. Then you smile, and pat the rope on the side of the saddle – all nice and friendly like.

    • IanCad

      Carl,

      Mostly agree with you. Sometimes not; but on this one I am 100% with you Bro.

      A political church is a menace.

      The Philippines are looking at a host of grief down the road with Iglesia ni Cristo sticking its oar in where it shouldn’t.

      Ian

      • dannybhoy

        I agree. Christians should be more informed and therefore more involved in political issues, but not en bloc.

        That was the big failing of the US Moral Majority. It is not the Church’s role to change things using political manouvering. Our role is to be salt and light and to preach/live the Gospel.

    • Shadrach Fire

      Jesus did not shy from making political statements about the religious establishment but was careful to not directly challenge the secular legal authority.

    • CorinKL

      Carl, not all the Bishops are in ‘government’. Actually, none of them are. A select few are in the House of Lords (second house). As such they have the opportunity, not always used, to be salt and light. They also help to afford some protection for religious freedom. A fact appreciated by the other religions.

      You may not approve, but the situation is not as you describe it.

      • so, not quite “none of them”, then.

        • CorinKL

          The House of Lords is not the government.

          • oh dear.

          • DanJ0

            There seems to be some confusion about the Executive (i.e. the Government) and the Legislature (the two chambers of Parliament ).

          • CorinKL

            Our American friends aren’t clear on The Government and so are some of us. Yours is a helpful clarification as it gives the US and UK equivalents. Thank you.

      • carl jacobs

        CorinKL

        It’s a fair point. I was instinctively employing an American usage of the word ‘Government.’ I don’t naturally think in terms of governments being fomed by a Parliamentary majority. To an American, the Government is that collection of legal institutions that propose, establish, implement, and enforce law. To us the government is perpetual and politicians flow into and out of it. So I naturally see the HoL as part of the Government. That isn’t strictly correct in British usage.

        I also realized that only a subset of Bishops are in the HoL. But the fact that any bishop is in the HoL means all bishops can legitimately speak on partisan political issues in their capacity as a bishop. The determination of ‘salt and light’ thus becomes confounded with partisan opinions. But a proper understanding of that phrase is never found in politics. People criticize the Christian right for confounding conservatism with Gospel. To often that criticism is a masked way of saying “The Gospel is found on the political Left,” That is no less an error. It is simply more acceptable in the fashionably progressive modern Western culture.

        Here is my personal understanding. As people lose their faith in God, they become increasingly aware of the massive void the exists beneath the fragile boards upon which their life is built. They realize that the universe is a pitiless place – that nothing will catch them if the boards should break and they should fall. The thought of the plunge into the abyss is terrifying. And so they look for a surrogate god to whom they may cry out. All they can find is the Government, and that is to me the source of the collectivist impulse in so much of Western gov’t. I don’t see it as Christian but as idolatrous. That is my Christian critique of the Left. That is not the Gospel but it flows from the Gospel.

        There is likewise a Christian critique of the Right and it is no less legitimate. There is not a one-to-one mapping of Gospel to Politics. It is good that there are Christians on the Left and Christians on the Right so long as they are both constrained by the boundary of the same Gospel. Both have blind spots. Both need the levening of the other. But that is not going to happen when church leaders overtly insert themselves into the partisan political process. If some bishop would tell me that the Gospel was found in Left wing politics, I would shut down on him and never credit him again.

        That isn’t being salt and light. That is a bishop mistaking his own political judgment for Truth. I learned that by watching Christian conservatives make that mistake. It is no less a mistake when employed by the Left.

        • CorinKL

          The Lords generally can choose to be unaffiliated or ‘Cross-bench’. The Bishops sit on their own bench and are, by definition, non-partisan. The House of Lords website will show you which Lord is associated with which party and which Bishops are ‘The Lords Spiritual’.

          ‘But the fact that any bishop is in the HoL means all bishops can
          legitimately speak on partisan political issues in their capacity as a
          bishop.’

          Bishops are not infallible. We all know that, sometimes only too well. We all fail to be salt and light on occasions. As Christians should we not all speak on matters concerning our work and at work – or are we now to be shut out of the public forum?

          • carl jacobs

            CorinKL

            And yet the political perspectives of the Bishops are widely known. It doesn’t matter if they are formally identified with a party. The monochromatic partisanship of the bishops in the HoL is a functional given.

            I certainly would never say that church leaders should not speak on political issues of the day. But they should never become partisan actors within the Government (American definition, since I don’t know an equivalent British word.)

          • Carl, in Britain the House of Lords is an unelected, second legislative chamber. It contributes to the amendment and passing of legislation. We call the Cabinet, formed by the leader of the party in the House of Commons with an overall majority, the ‘Government’.

          • CorinKL

            It’s impossible for individuals not to be partisan. The bench of Bishops , as a whole, is not partisan. However, the preponderance of a left-leaning liberal elite across all sections of the Establishment is an issue in the US as well as the UK. It is quite possible that the Church of England will split in much the same way as the Episcopalian Church has split in the USA. The ramifications of this will be far more extensive because of the relationship between the Church, Parliament and the Monarchy.

            As to words DanJO gives a helpful reply. to which I would add, Monarch an hereditary and mostly powerless President. President, elected Monarch – power variable.

        • Hi Carl,

          Actually that’s one of your best posts ever!!

        • A Christian can be neither strictly ‘right’ wing nor ‘left’ wing – depending on what we mean by these terms. There will be times when he, as a voter, decides it is preferable, in given moments, to align himself with one party or another.

          The two main British political parties are not laissez-faire capitalists nor are they state socialists. Both the main parties have supporters of these approaches in them. Where they differ is on how to manage the economy, the role of welfare and on approaches to the poor, income redistribution and taxation. A Christian politician could join either with a good conscience.

          In theory, Jack sees no harm to the democratic process or to the Gospel in representatives of the Churches, including Bishops in the House of Lords, giving a view about how a Christian should look upon issues and what factors to weigh in voting for legislation. In practice, as you say, it can be difficult if they are perceived to be or in fact are aligned with one party.

  • Jonathan Chilvers

    “Given that Rochester & Strood is a two-horse race, and accepting that the task of the Christian in a representative liberal democracy is, as Augustine might have put it, to mitigate the evil and increase the good, how should Christians vote in this by-election?”
    Two horse races are only so because people have decided that’s how it is. By all means vote for Reckless or Tolhurst if you think they’re the best overall candidate. However, It doesn’t take many people to put their head above the parapet and start explaining why they’re voting for a third party for the momentum to shift quickly. That’s the role that I think Christians should be playing – not passively voting for a least worst option.

    • ah i see, so what is stopping you? what’s stopping anybody putting their head above the parapet and explaining why they’re voting for a third party, swinging momentum in their favour?

  • len

    Is there such a thing as a Christian Politician?.I think of Blair and Cameron as examples of politicians who’ do God’ and their behaviors betray the fact that they know nothing of God.
    Politicians live in a world of compromise and false promises and this is incompatible with a Christian moral foundation.
    A Christian politician would have the wolves baying for his blood within days of presenting himself to the public and making his views known.
    Christianity is totally incompatible with this corrupt’ world system ‘and should not be attempted as we have seen what’ marrying the World ‘has done to the Catholic and Protestant faiths.

    Render unto Caesar and do not try and mix your service to God with this or you will ultimately fail( sooner rather than later)

    • DrCrackles

      I believe the Lord raises up his instrument at times appointed. The glorious example is Cyrus the Great. It is very dangerous for a Christian to enter politics with high aims and ambition. The aims will be altered in pursuit of the goal, so the Christian politician will barely differ from the rest. This is the pride of life at work: the disease which infects the very best of the political class.

      • skeetstar

        Dr C, thank goodness that view has not held through out history. We would still have the slave trade if it had.

    • well we can’t all be as good as you len. but on the other hand, consider first romans 13:1, and second, that politics is the art of compromise. as these forums will clearly demonstrate, there is no simple “christian” position on almost any subject, and i wouldn’t take such a pompous line on blair or cameron, regardless of whether i voted for them. perhaps what we need it less, not more, glib moralising.

      • skeetstar

        U’to, I don’t think Len’s view on Blair and Cameron is pompous, I would take the same view as he. A friend on mine lives in Camerion’s constutuency and has a chance to quiz him on his beliefs. Cameron attends church services when he can, but freely admitted that the value he sees in this is one of tradition, rather than of a faith. As for Blair, where does one start, hard to see a shred of christain witness in his Premiership.

        • i think, if you wanted, skeetstar, you could make the case for both cameron and blair. to say “hard to see a shred..”, really? i think much of what blair did was admirable. he wasn’t quite stalin now, was he? i can’t speak for cameron’s personal faith, i wasn’t party to your friend’s conversation, but i’m pretty convinced that dc is trying his best to run this coalition government from a broadly centre right position, as blair did from a broadly centre left one.

          the original poster, Len, criticised politics for the need to compromise, and much commentary on these forums is of this same type: right (or left) wing rantings, what we need is [more taxes, less immigrants, banker bashing, more eu, less eu]. is this really where the british electorate is at? are we really so unsophisticated, so breathless?

          • len

            ukipifyouwantto You seem to be of the’ no absolutes’ school which is just a form of compromise .

            Jesus said’ the Truth will set you free’.’ Compromise ‘will muddy the waters to such an extent that you will not know what truth is anymore (which is the position most of the population at the moment)

            As George Orwell said

            In a time of universal deceit – telling the truth is a revolutionary act.

          • no len, dear, everybody “knows what the truth is”, they just have different views on what that truth is. i’m quite happy that there absolutes, but we don’t have any way of agreeing on what they are, so the question is, how do we run our country given that situation. or perhaps the solution is just to SPEAK MORE LOUDLY UNTIL EVERYBODY AGREES WITH YOU?

      • Christians can succeed in politics, depending on our definition of success.
        It would ineffective to stand for Parliament on a platform of: end all abortion; delegitimise homosexuality; restrict all divorce; discouraging common law ‘partnerships; ending all equality legislation; etc. However, seeing the pursuit of objectives as longer term, and being realistic about achieving the lesser between two evils, it is possible to work towards Christian outcomes.
        As Jesus said: “Be as wise as serpents and as pure as doves.” Christians cannot just give up and walk away from the public square and the levers of secular power.

        • len

          Good luck with that one…… remember what happened to the disciples?.

      • len

        The Word of God does not change you either accept it or deny it . Compromise is a form of spineless denial.

    • skeetstar

      Len, I Think there are Christian politicians. An acquaintance of mine acts as Pastor/Chaplain to MPs in the House, and he has a small flock of around 30, I believe. That said I think the qualities required to get to high office; arrogance, an inability to admit fault, comfort with falsehoods etc, mean most christian MPs won’t mak it up the greasy pole because of their own integrity.

      • Bob of Bonsall

        Delete “politician” and “MP” insert “social worker” and you also gain some idea of why that sector is in such a mess too.

        • Delete “social worker” and insert “public sector” and, now withlottery funding, you might as well add “voluntary sector”.

    • SidneyDeane

      Yes lets have a theocracy and burn witches again.

      • CliveM

        This use to say Sidney Deane, why is it now reading as Guest?

        • DanJ0

          I expect he deleted it … which I gather deletes the name but not the content.

          • CliveM

            Ahhh so he was embarressed. Thanks for the explanation.

      • len

        Show me where Jesus Christ advocated burning witches?
        I think I missed that?.

    • retiredbloke

      Christianity is anomolous to all the world’s systems; it cannot belong or be structured in the same way as other systems of the world and certainly cannot be subject to worldly authority. The command “Seek ye first the Kingdom of Heaven” excludes adopting the world’s god of money, materialism and control that is regarded as a legitimate human ambition. The mission of all Christians should be to tell of the Power of the Blood of Jesus for salvation and healing to the exclusion of all other worldly propagated messages that are so dear to the heart of their god. When those in the “church” make their message solely concerning the physical prosperity of people they are missing the spiritual truth.
      With all matters we should turn to the Word of God eg, the He defined the boundaries of the nations. Should not this be a guide to what attitude we take on immigration and globalisation n?
      Look to the Author and Founder of your faith not to humanl philosophy and wisdom. Your Bible contains all the wisdom you need.

  • Royinsouthwest

    Morgan Phillips who was the General Secretary of the Labour Party from 1944 to 1961 famously said the Labour Party owed more to Methodism than Marxism.” That was true of Old Labour. Despite Tony Blair’s professed Christian faith he allowed his spin doctor Alastair Campbell to prevent him from answering a question about Christianity in an interview by butting in with the comment, we don’t do God.

    No doubt there are still good Christians in New Labour, the Liberal Democrats, and Cameron’s Conservative Party but the environment in all three seems increasingly hostile to faith. Has Bishop Pete noticed, I wonder?

    Politicians in those three parties will, for electoral reasons, make a show of listening to Moslems, and also to adherents of other non-christian religions, but they have only a very selective interest in the moral teachings of any religion.

  • Jack believes Christians can succeed in politics, depending on our definition of success.

    It would ineffective to stand for Parliament on a platform of: end all abortion; delegitimise homosexuality; restrict all divorce; discouraging common law ‘partnerships; ending all equality legislation; etc. However, seeing the pursuit of objectives as longer term, and being realistic about achieving the lesser between two evils, it is possible to work towards Christian outcomes.

    As Jesus said: “Be as wise as serpents and as pure as doves.” Christians cannot just give up and walk away from the public square and the levers of secular power.

    • CliveM

      I agree, but then could it not be argued that that is what Blair and Cameron have had to do?

      • Cameron ? As Prime Minister he initiated same sex marriage without any mandate from the British public and in the face of opposition from the Church and many in his party. How is that an application of the “lesser of two evils”?

        Blair ? Didn’t he support embryo research, civil partnerships and abortion? He consistently voted for late-term abortions in Parliament and refused to support even the mildest reform of the 24-week limit. He could have made it clear he would support a reduction to 20 weeks in a free vote. That would have been an application of the “lesser of two evils”.

        • CliveM

          Yeh, fair point.

        • Hi Happy Jack

          Now, now, we all know that David Cameron is of the heretic Anglicanism, but Tony Blair is a full communicant of the one true Church , i.e. a Roman Catholic just like your good self…. so shouldn’t you embrace him as a brother in Jesus???

          • Been at the wine, Hannah?

            Hopefully Tony Blair has repented of his past sin, committed before his conversion to Roman Catholicism, and is in Communion with the Church. That’s between him and his confessor.

          • Yellow dude,

            Might be something to do with our monthly outing to the local for a constitutional (kosher of course) …..

          • Blue dude …. no doubt.
            Enjoy.

          • CliveM

            Well HJ listening to some of his post conversion comments, I don’t think he is entirely orthodox!

          • Very true … and he’s not alone amongst public figures who are Roman Catholics.

          • Hi Happy Jack

            That’s fair enough. Personally I liked Tony Blair whilst he was PM (well at least I’m brave enough to admit that!). Much better than Harold Saxon…..

          • CliveM

            Are you not confusing your blogs!! 🙂

          • Hi Clive,

            Then there was Harriet Jones (:

          • CliveM

            Well yes. Churchill as well! 🙂

          • There’s good and bad in everyone.

          • Hi Happy Jack,

            Of course. Like it or not Tony did win 3 elections, 2 by landslides .

          • Hannah, Jack blames women voters. They fell for his charm. Same with Cameron. The suffragette movement has a lot to answer for. Trust you agree.

          • Hi happy Jack

            Not at all, (:

          • dannybhoy

            HJ
            “Been at the wine, Hannah?”
            That’s a nasty thing to say to a young Jewish lady who seeks to be honest to her inner self and to her God.
            As a devout Jewish young woman Hannah could just as easily avoid websites like this, yet she seeks to share her own spiritual journey with us who believe in the love and compassion of Our Lord.
            Your bad, Happy Jack.

          • Agreed, but the comment was directed at Hannah ……….

          • Hi happy Jack

            Whatever….

          • Lol …………

          • Hi Happy Jack

            I think I meant the urban dictionary definition!(:

          • They’re both in the Urban Dictionary …

          • Hi happy Jack

            “Yes”

            As ambassador kosh or my rav would say(:

          • Hannah …… whatever then.
            Let’s end this here before our good host loses patience.
            Shalom.

          • Agreed.

            Laters!

          • dannybhoy

            Whoah monseiur,
            An accurate assessment in what way?

          • She was in the local hostelry at the time of the post …..

          • Dude,

            We were at home by that time, but why do you have to not only stick a knife in, but twist it round the room. Regardless of Hannah’s state, she did make a decent point, but all you can do is go on the attack, any time your church is under criticism, however remotely. Besides which we were, ironically, celebrating someone’s conversion to your faith. So feck off.

          • It was a light-hearted comment on Jack’s part in response to what he saw as a harmless wind-up. Its not Jack who has added all the drama and hype with Knights riding to a damsel in distress.
            Please do calm down and retain a sense of perspective.
            And, pass my best wishes on to Cousin Louise.

          • dannybhoy

            HJ
            It was a light hearted comment?
            Maybe.
            I met Hannah on another site a few months ago, and I was struck by her honesty and desire to be faithful to her beliefs.
            I like her and respect her even if we don’t agree about our religious beliefs.
            Honesty and sincerity are good qualities, and of course she is born of the same people as our Saviour..

          • “Maybe.” …. Tsk, tsk. Are you judging Happy Jack? And what has her being a Jew got to do with the price of a pint?

          • dannybhoy

            Am I judging you?.
            No no precious.. Not I, not Gollum, no.

            Being a Jewess you mean?
            Only that as a welcome contributor here we Christians should show her love and respect.

          • “Being a Jewess you mean”

            Jew is a gender-neutral word and some regard the suffix -ess as offensive. Jack wouldn’t want to risk causing unnecessary offense to someone he loves and respects – even though he disagrees with her on certain subjects.

            .

          • Hey dude,

            “Calm down”… reminds me of the Harry Enfield characters..:) ..

            Alright, I’ll not say no more.

          • dannybhoy

            Lol!

          • Dude,

            No pistol. Swords. Most and much more civilised.

          • dannybhoy

            Aah,
            So what you mean is that whilst you may have posted a comment or two in the presence of a glass of good wine, you never but NEVER, did so whilst in a hostelry..

          • Jack drinks Whiskey ……….
            Down buoy.

          • Ah, nothing like whiskey and herring as a treat! (And after shul kiddush).

          • CliveM

            What is it with whiskey! Is it common in Jewish culture? Why not wine ( or a bitter)?

            Despite being a Scot, hate the stuff. Avi once suggested I might be wanting to convert to nick his.

            He has no idea how much that didn’t appeal!

          • CliveM

            Right it is nice the up votes, but could I have an explanation please!

          • Hi Danny

            Thanks for this, but it’s duck off the water’s back as far as I’m concerned. I’ve had to develop a thick skin here. I’ve had a lot worse said about me, so I just joke off this kind of stuff. I just hope they don’t start on you next.

          • dannybhoy

            Tony Blair converted to Catholicism (through the influence of his wife Cherie) in 2007.

            http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1573453/Tony-Blair-turns-Catholic-in-private-ceremony.html

          • Hi Danny

            I got that Mr Blair became a Catholic (my cousin Louise is a Catholic, who like Tony Blair converted from Anglicanism, but she’s more like sister tibs and darter noster, at least in her communication). I was being somewhat facetious with Happy Jack, as his dogmatism grates sometimes….

          • You’re not wrong there..

          • dannybhoy

            ” I was being somewhat facetious with Happy Jack, as his dogmatism grates sometimes….”
            I could not possibly comment. 🙂
            I abandoned dogma a long time ago, but in the interests of peace and harmony I try to remain silent.
            “Ad meah v’essrim Hannah, mowtek shelanu.”

          • CliveM

            I up voted but have no idea what you said!!

          • dannybhoy

            You’re a good man Clive! It was a phonetic translation of an old Jewish saying, עד מאה ועשרים
            (reading from the right to the left)
            ‘Ad’ (until) ‘meah’ (a hundred) v’ (and) ‘essrim’ (twenty)
            Literally, may you have a long life Hannah (our) darling!

          • CliveM

            Thank you!

          • “We call a man a bigot or a slave of dogma because he is a thinker who has thought thoroughly and to a definite end.”
            (Gilbert K. Chesterton)

    • len

      Christians should be’ walking in the public square ‘preaching the Gospel of Redemption not compromising with corrupt world systems.
      True Christianity is not of this world and cannot ever work in this present world system.Christianity is entirely super- natural not of this world trying to make it fit into this world is like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole It just don`t fit!.
      OK like the Samaritan well help the needy (but secular charities do exactly the same work) we can make a stand for righteousness which has mainly been rejected by this world system so we point forward to the time of the destruction of this present world system not meekly accept and compromise with it!.
      Christianity demands another world another creation because this one stands condemned by God !!!.

      We are either of this fallen Creation or have been translated into the Dawn of the New Creation.

      • “Dawn of the New Creation”, Len? Not going all New Age, are we?
        Of course Christians are called to make a difference in this world as corrupt as it is. Serving the poor, the homeless, the imprisoned and tackling injustice is not just about preaching the Gospel.
        What you’re proposing is standing on street corners with placards saying “The End is Nigh”.

        • len

          The new creation is God`s idea not mine Jack….. surely you knew that?.
          What I am proposing (Jesus mentioned this too )is to go out into all the world and preach the GOOD NEWS (the Gospel) surely you knew that ?.
          Or does the RCC not have any good news?.

          • But you’re preaching doom and gloom, Len. Where is the joy?

          • len

            I have good news and bad news which do you want first Jack?.

  • David

    The last line is sheer genius, albeit a cheeky genius.