Election Thoughts

Very many clergy steer very clear of party politics and won’t say anything about it at all. That’s probably a reasonable strategy for the many but its never going to satisfy the few. Perhaps inevitably, I’m one of the few. I was a candidate at the last General Election, something that was known about and talked about when I was appointed to St Mary’s. Not for me the luxury of not causing ripples. My political allegiance is a matter of public record. I was the Liberal Democrat candidate for Stirling in 2005.

It feels a little strange not being involved as a candidate this time. It was an experience that I enjoyed immensely and learned a great deal from. People often ask me whether I’ve given up politics now. The answer remains the same as when I came to Glasgow – that I’m not engaged in it directly right now, but I would not rule out going back to it later.

I had a fabulous team working with me when I was a candidate. Amazing volunteers who worked and worked and worked. They taught me a lot about motivating people and a huge amount about how you can influence folk over a large area with a small number of people. Indeed, I learned that if you can agree on a common task with meaningful goals, a small number of people can do amazing things.

So very different to the church a lot of the time, where we find it very hard to define what the common task is.

I also found that people tend to treat one another better in politics than we do in the church. That’s a sobering thought and when I articulate it, people often want to disagree with me.

Anyway, its been an exciting election campaign. Much more so than I thought it would be. I’m saddened that it has taken the pseudo-presidential television debates to get to a point where people have been able to consider alternatives to the old two party dualism in greater numbers than before. However, I’m not going to pretend that I am displeased with the consequences. I was flagging up the fact that I thought the country needed a hung parliament in January. I’ve not changed my mind. Those trying to frighten us out of a hung parliament tell us to be afraid of governments constructed from back room deals. Every government is constructed from back room deals. I happen to think that we would have better government if the back room included people from more than one party.

So, my thoughts are with all candidates today. Given what I know you go through, turning up to vote is the least we can do for you.


  1. David | Dah•veed says

    I can tell you from sad experience that our ten years of true multiparty democracy has mostly resulted in a federal legislature that has been paralyzed to accomplish anything for the nation. This sad state of affairs is seducing folks to return to the party of our former one party dictatorship of the previous 70 years.

  2. Andrew Heatlie says

    Dah.veed, one of the current cynical jokes has to be David Cameron talking of ‘strong government’ when what he’s describing is right-wing insensitivity and selfishness; from this the need is daylight-clear for multiparty co-operation in the whole community’s interest. But it has to be that genuinely; in Scotland with the incompetent SNP in lead-role we see only too well how Government deception and chicanery have to be challenged at every turn. A good PR electoral system does not guarantee reputable good government, only public vigilance and Freedom of Information!

    Kelvin, it’s much easier to focus together behind a party political banner than in religious matters, because politics is a much more restricted dimension of life over which to establish provisional priorities, whereas religious perspectives encompass EVERYTHING, and no way can we expect to see more than a little partial bit of the picture this side of the grave, let alone agree on the specifics; so it’s more like working together on an open agenda than promoting a preset political campaign?

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