Pledge to Vote for What You Believe In 5 - Jill Segger

By Press Office
April 16, 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.

Today's pledger is Ekklesia's Associate Director, the writer Jill Segger:

Voting for what I believe in presents quite a challenge. None of the parties are offering a vision of the kind of society I wish to see, though some get nearer to it than others. That vision (reflected in the Ekklesia election values) centres around the Quaker Testimonies of peace, equality, simplicity and truth.

Peace is affronted by the majority of the parties seeing nothing wrong in Trident renewal; in varying degrees of preferring promotion of the armed forces over investing in conflict prevention and resolution and in continuing to insist that the UK remains the world's fifth largest military power.

Equality – despite the protestations of its opponents – does not mean uniformity. It is a liberating force and unless a radical redistribution of wealth, power and respect takes place, liberation from inequality is not going to happen. The divisions which attend the current massive disparities in income, security, influence, housing and education are actually being used as ideological instruments by the present government. Until every party will undertake to scrutinise its policies against the simple yardstick 'does this increase or decrease inequality?', the cruel futility of wasting (in both senses of that word) the lives and hopes of so many will continue to deform and brutalise our society.

Simplicity can be understood on several levels. In the arena of our common lives it means freedom from the moral and intellectual clutter which impedes our perceptions of justice. Unexamined consumerism and self ­interest are its enemies. They are also the most potent weapons of much political thinking and practice.

Truth is not a concept many people readily think of in connection with party politics. Cynicism is the sour fruit of mendacity and this is bad for us all. The question I intend to ask, and would encourage others to ask, at any hustings is: “what is your chosen course of action where you perceive fidelity to the truth as not being in your party's interest?” There is as much to be learned in the manner which this is answered as there is in the words used.

By now, many readers will probably be thinking it clear that I should be pledging to vote for the Green Party. They certainly come nearest to ticking the boxes I have outlined above. But here, our dysfunctional electoral system enters the equation. In this constituency, their candidate has no chance whatsoever of being returned. First past the post not only disadvantages the smaller parties, in 'safe seats' it may make it difficult for them to attract the most effective candidates. But as I believe that the best outcome of the election would be a progressive alliance, should I not choose to add to the number of votes cast nationally for what could overall be a significant component of that alliance?

However, any alliance can only be built upon the Labour or Conservative members returned to Westminster. For it to be progressive, Labour must be the party with the greatest number of seats. So against the discernment of principle, that of agency also demands my attention.

There are two spiritual exhortations which must inform my reflections: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” needs no attribution. “Answer that of God in every person” is the challenge left us by George Fox. So it is with these parameters guiding my conscience that three weeks out from the election, I can pledge only to keep attending to the leadings of the Spirit until the moment I place my cross on the ballot paper.

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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.