Leaders’ Debates are always going to be unbearable on some level. The petty attacks, the narrowness of the discussions, the very limited time span, the tendency of some people to think that shouting loudly constitutes debate (meaning Nigel Farage in this case).
Our co-director Jonathan Bartley is taking a short unpaid sabbatical from Ekklesia, starting at Easter and running until after the General Election. This is because he is running as a parliamentary candidate, and both he and Ekklesia wish to avoid any confusion between those two roles.
Two stories caught my eye on our website yesterday (12th March), both relating to the effects of austerity on the United Kingdom. The first highlighted in an excellent article by Bernadette Meaden was a reflection on the recent report about the psychological impact of austerity. The second an LSE study demonstrating that young people are highly unlikely to ever earn the salaries of their parents.
For the last few months Ekklesia staff, associates and partners have been thinking and talking about our approach to the 2015 General Election and beyond. The resulting research paper and our special election website were launched on Friday 6th March, two months before polling day. The launch happened to coincide with my weekend away with fellow members of ‘Unite for Peace’, a small group of (mainly) Christian pacifists who meet twice a year, which provided an opportunity to discuss the paper in more depth.
“Remember your responsibilities as a citizen for the conduct of local, national and international affairs. Do not shrink from the time and effort your involvement may demand.” This is one of 42 challenges and questions posed to members of the Society of Friends (Quakers) by the rather quaintly named 'Advices and Queries'.
Whoever we decide to vote for in May, we need an election campaign fought on the basis of truth, not spin. In the past, charities would have spoken out if a politician tried to give a false picture of reality, but many now feel gagged by the Lobbying Act passed last year. Happily, one charity exists solely to check facts, but it needs our help to meet the challenge of the election campaign.