Quakers aim to spark alternative General Election debate

By agency reporter
February 27, 2015

In the run-up to the General Election on 7 May, Quakers in Britain aim to stimulate an alternative conversation on topics like justice, democracy and peace, Trident, sustainability and economic inequality. Quakers have a long history of engaging in politics and seek to get people involved, not to tell people how to vote.

Quakers are hosting hustings with the main political parties, around Britain and at Friends House, Quakers’ central office in London. Webinars, blogs and a new website www.quakervote.org.uk will bring voters together online.

Parliamentary Engagement Officer, Jessica Metheringham says: “This general election will set the scene for politics in Britain for the next five years. The next few weeks are an opportunity to shape the debate. Quakers live their faith by speaking out; it compels us to challenge the status quo and to seek to change the world for the better. The actions that faith motivates us to take can be inherently political.”

More than a dozen Quakers are standing as parliamentary candidates in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The Quaker election guide has proved so popular it has been reprinted. A handy conversation-starter, also online at www.quakervote.org.uk the guide offers an overview of more than 20 subjects over seven themes, including suggested questions for candidates.

The 28-page booklet offers guidance on how to run hustings (when all the candidates are invited to answer questions) and a panel discussion (when a group of experts are invited to answer questions and does not involve the candidates), as well as many other activities.

The website at www.quakervote.org.uk has facts and figures, themes and issues, to facilitate letter writing, discussions and debates. Planned webinars on peace, housing, sustainability and economic inequality can be watched again online

Briefings suggest many questions to candidates, including these:

- Do you think that faith should play a role in politics?
- Do you support voting rights for prisoners?
- How would a British Bill of Rights, as proposed by some political parties, differ from the Human Rights Act?
- What role would you play in tackling prejudice, whether in terms of poverty, class or gender?
- How would you increase the range of good quality, well managed and genuinely affordable housing?
- Many people find it hard to pay for funerals. What would you do to make them more affordable?
- Do you think the UK should continue to sell arms to Israel?
- (On Trident) Do you feel it is a proper use of public funds to sign contracts for up to £100 billion for a project that could be declared illegal under international law?
- Should parents have a say in whether their children are exposed to greater military involvement in their education?

*Register to attend hustings at www.quakervote.eventbrite.co.uk Friends House, opposite Euston Station, on 31 March, 9 and 21 April. Doors open 6.30pm. All welcome.

* Quakers are known formally as the Religious Society of Friends. Around 23,000 people attend 478 Quaker meetings in Britain. Their commitment to equality, justice, peace, simplicity and truth challenges them to seek positive social and legislative change.

*Quakers in Britain http://www.quaker.org.uk/

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