Pledge to Vote for What You Believe In 4 - Ray Gaston

By Press Office
April 15, 2015

With a month to go till the General Election, we are inviting people to pledge to vote for what they believe in, according to the values outlined in our election paper.

To help focus our thinking, we've invited commentators from across the political spectrum to explain how the values are integral to their electoral choices. We are publishing a selection of pledges not to endorse any one party but to demonstrate how different people have responded to our values and are pledging to vote according to their beliefs.

Our fourth pledger is the Rev Ray Gaston, Anglican priest, author and lecturer at the Queens Theological Foundation who tells us how the Ekklesia values are informing his vote :

‘No one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common’ Acts 4:32

This text is central to my interpretation of the Ekklesia core values that require a radically redistributive approach to the economy. This is why I will be actively supporting, through leafleting and canvassing, candidates for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC). Unfortunately I won’t be able to vote for them as they are not standing in my constituency but they are in 135 others and as council candidates in 629 wards in the accompanying local elections.

Their manifesto is a passionate and unashamed example of socialist principle calling for nationalisation of not only the railways but the banks and public utilities. They set their sights high with a radically redistributive economic policy calling for an end to austerity and for a renewal and democratisation of our public services funded through higher taxation of the rich and cuts in defence spending such as the scrapping of Trident, all policies consistent with Ekklesia’s core values.

I’m under no illusions that TUSC is going to form the next government but a glance at their candidates list is impressive for recognising how rooted they are in those who are at the brunt of the austerity policies enacted or proposed by all of the ‘major’ parties and UKIP and how involved they are as activists in Trade Unions and community campaigns; resisting cuts, wage reduction and privatisation. Some are committed Marxists and Trotskyists others are ex Labour councillors who could not stomach voting for austerity in the council chamber and therefore resigned from the party, all are committed to resisting the attack on working people that austerity is, through self-organisation and empowering resistance at the grassroots.

I’m not supporting a future government but a growing movement of self-organised resistance to the ravages of capitalism and the articulation of a hope for a better society based on community cooperation, utilising and developing the contribution of all and promoting human flourishing and sustainable living, themes I see echoed in the core values.

Marxism is not very fashionable these days even amongst radical Christians who are more likely to speak of resilience over resistance in their work within local communities. However, the narrative of the Bible has a significant thread that is firmly redistributive and one which the story of Luke-Acts in the Apostolic Witness clearly affirms.

‘No one should have too much and no one should have too little’ is the mantra of the redistributive laws in Leviticus and Deuteronomy, the call to economic and social justice of the Prophets and an integral part of the mission of Jesus in Luke. This starts as he reads from the Prophet Isaiah in the synagogue and then challenges his hearers – and us – with his radical critique of accumulation in the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, his conversation with the rich man and the radically redistributive response to Eucharistic sharing in the story of his encounter with Zacchaeus. It is these experiences of Jesus’ teaching and action that lead to the Spirit filled disciples enacting the vision that is mentioned twice in Acts.

My work for TUSC is rooted in this biblical understanding of accumulation as a sin and the call for radical redistribution. I’m supporting TUSC for in them and the Marxism many of them espouse, I find a compelling correlation to Jesus’ call for radical redistribution, a thoughtful analysis of our contemporary economic plight and a call to a vision of hope. As the Marxist theologian Ernst Bloch said: "The most tragic form of loss isn’t the loss of security; it’s the loss of the capacity to imagine that things could be different." TUSC boldly challenges us to imagine a different world and to seek to bring it about together.

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* If you would like to pledge to vote for what you believe in, please leave a comment on our election website here or on our Facebook page or email your pledge to votebelief@gmail.com.

* More on the issues in the 2015 General Election from Ekklesia: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/generalelection2015

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.