Political chaos (and the Church)
Fact, fiction, fear, hope, and more, all rolled into one is part of the political story as it has emerged over recent times. Everyone, it seems, has some political angle, so I declare mine now. I voted Remain. In recent times I have voted SNP. In years past I have voted Labour, probably Liberal at some point, but can’t remember if I ever voted Conservative. I am probably what is called “a floater” although that term brings back memories of times when I was a lad and you wish you hadn’t given your crisp-eating pal a drink of your ginger! You may disagree, but I think a floater asks questions of all politicians. And I also think that the Church should be free to speak out as an independent voice against injustice in politics, as long as it doesn’t become party political which I fear, as far as Brexit is concerned, it has stepped into murky waters which may have consequences for future political views it may wish to share and how it remarks on other decisions that wait around the corner.
Brexit: the UK voted to leave and it can easily be argued that the referendum result should be upheld. Simple democracy. It was Parliament that gave us the referendum! We didn’t vote for a no-deal Brexit, neither did we vote for Brexit with a deal, we simply voted to leave. Some have suggested that people didn’t know what they were voting for, well at least we were all in the same boat! When it comes round to elections, do we ever really know exactly what we’re voting for and do any of the politicians live up to their promises? A second referendum on the matter may reverse the first result but where would that then leave us? Some say it is an affront to democracy to push through a no-deal Brexit, is it not also an affront to democracy to deny Brexit? “So let’s get a deal” would be the obvious solution. There was a deal, May’s deal, whether you liked it or not. Should those who are now doing everything in their power to stop a no-deal have joined ranks and voted for the deal that was once on offer if they were sincere about a Brexit deal? It seems there is no way you are going to get a deal that satisfies everyone. In the political world of suspicion and game-playing, Boris may very well be playing a game that suits him, and those who want to remain may very well be playing a game that stops Brexit at all costs, though few, if any politicians would ever be honest enough to admit it until they write their memoirs! And the further entrenching of positions on whatever side only serves to create a divided and chaotic nation which ALL politicians have helped to create whether they admit it or not, and then they continually blame each other for the mess we’re in. That includes the EU who has stated that it’s the agreed deal or nothing! Boris may now be leading a very right wing Conservative Party, but Jeremy is leading a very left wing Labour Party, and Nicola is leading a very nationalist Party (by definition, I suppose) but all these leaders plus the others have helped to create the divisions because all are out for their own political ends.
IndyRef1: Scotland voted to remain in the UK by a 55/45 majority. If we had voted for independence then we would have been out of the EU and had to ask to get back in. Even if we had a second referendum on independence would we not still have to apply to get back in the EU? Scotland voted 62/38 to Remain, that’s still a substantial number who voted to leave the EU, so where five people are gathered together, 3 voted to remain and 2 voted to leave. If Brexit doesn’t happen, then will IndyRef2 disappear? I think not. But if the argument is that Scotland voted to remain in the EU referendum, then should it not also be argued that Scotland also voted to remain in the IndyRef1? “We don’t want to be ruled by Conservatives in London”, some say, but for many years before the SNP gained power Scotland was ruled by Labour who also had a majority of MPs in Scotland. Furthermore, although I think Nicola and the SNP have achieved some good things for Scotland, the lack of strong opposition leaders and parties is worrying, because we need variety in our democracy and we need choice and we need accountability. Indications on IndyRef2 are that voting could be as close as the EU referendum result, would that also lead to a divided nation?
Will no-deal Brexit be a disaster for the UK? Perhaps. Or will it give the UK exciting new opportunities? Perhaps. And maybe it would be a bit of both. Who knows? Fear of price rises, lack of food and medicines have all been projected. I remember “fears” were pronounced around the time of IndyRef1 about the dire consequences for Scotland and the SNP brushed them aside. If we go independent eventually, following as many referendums as it takes to get us there, wait for the next set of debates on currency, on economic stability, and the Scottish backstop! Are not politicians full of double standards when it suits their political stance and party? Of course they are, and that applies to all the political leaders and politicians. In a recent TV programme Jeremy Paxton asked the question, “Why are our politicians so crap?” Glad it was him who asked the question, for it would be unbecoming of a minister of the Church!
And so to the blameless Church, speaking out in the name of justice! I wholeheartedly agree we should speak out even when some say we should shut up because we have a duty to promote justice and reconciliation, but that won’t be achieved if we are ever perceived to take a particular side. For the Church to say we cannot leave the EU without a deal is wading into murky waters, for that is the stance of many Remainers. If we cannot negotiate a new deal and we won’t accept the deal already offered, does that mean we are advocating a reversal of the Brexit referendum? Does it mean that those who disagree with the Church on this have their Christian faith questioned? When did we decide what experts we would listen to in terms of the predicted outcomes of leaving the EU? It has been the case that previous General Assemblies have supported membership of the EU for it has brought us stability, security and a sense of togetherness in Europe. Strangely we were silent on IndyRef1, but surely the same positives apply? Would the UK union not also bring us stability, security and a sense of togetherness? But to wade in there would certainly engender more division, so perhaps Church and Society needs to think again before it speaks out, otherwise the Church will be seen to be no better than the politicians who get themselves in a tangle.
Political chaos. Jesus’ stories and Kingdom values would bring direction out of chaos. Brings us back to a simple prayer: “God, please help us. Amen.” And maybe that’s the best thing the Church can do!