General Election 2015 focus: 'Vote for what you believe in'

Abstract

With the rise of people-based parties, civic movements for social change, and opposition to debt-deflationary austerity policies, aspects of politics in Europe are shifting in a progressive direction. But there is also a dark side, signaled by social dislocation, the scapegoating of minorities, toxic ideologies, and aggressive xenophobia. As a ‘democratic moment’ in this changing context, the UK General Election is being seen as potentially the most open in years. The major parties are being challenged on all sides. Political pluralism is growing. Will hope or trepidation prevail? This Ekklesia paper suggests that elections should be seen precisely as ‘moments of opportunity’ in a broader and wider political process that needs to be rooted in civic action and participation, rather than dominated by unaccountable elites. Our challenge to Christians and to all people of good faith (religious or otherwise) is to be courageous; to seek to ‘Vote for What You Believe In’, and to act for what you believe in, rather than succumbing to a reductionist narrative that says you can only get something slightly less worse than you fear. Here we offer a rationale for that positive approach, an overview of the changing political scene, Ten Core Values that provide a basis for interrogating parties and candidates, an encouragement to pledge ourselves to a politics of principle, consideration of fostering honest belief in politics and ‘voting as witness’, and extensive references and resources.

CONTENTS:

1. Introducing ‘Vote for What You Believe In’ – p2
2. What Ekklesia is promoting, proposing, providing, piloting and pledging – p4
3. If you never vote for what you want, you never get it – p4
4. The changing political landscape and how to negotiate it – p5
5. So is a renewal of politics possible? – p7
6. Ekklesia’s ten core values for General Election participants – p9
• A commitment to favouring the poorest and most vulnerable
• Actively redressing social and economic injustices and inequalities
• Welcoming the stranger and valuing displaced and marginalised people
• Seeing people, their dignity and rights as the solution not the problem
• Moving from punitive ‘welfare’ to a society where all can genuinely fare well
• Promoting community and neighbourhood empowerment
• Food, education, health, housing, work and sustainable income for all
• Care for planet and people as the basis for human development
• Investing in nonviolent alternatives to war and force as the basis for security
• Transparency, honesty and accountability in public and economic life
7. The ‘Vote for What You Believe In’ Pledge – p14
8. Voting as witness: is ‘believing’ in politics good faith? – p14
References and resources – p16
Appendix: Ekklesia and the General Election, past and present – p18
Authorship and response – p19
Publishing and © – p20

Read and download the full paper here (*.PDF Adobe Acrobat document): http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/sites/ekklesia.co.uk/files/ekklesia_general_el...