With the election campaign well on its way in Britain, the nation will be making up its mind in the next few weeks. For those of us who don’t line up behind one of the two major parties, elections can be a somewhat depressing prospect. But as I wrote recently, we should vote in hope, not in fear.
In that post I quoted from the Ekklesia think tank’s report on the election. That same report contains a list of ten principles that they suggest people look for in a parliamentary candidate. They are Christian values drawn from the Gospels, but widely applicable. You might have a few others that you would add, but here’s their list of principles to look for in choosing who to vote for:
- A commitment to the poor and most vulnerable. Politics should serve the disadvantaged, and we should look for a ‘bias towards the poor’ as well as our own interests.
- Actively addressing social and economic injustices. How will parties address the gaps in power and wealth in society?
- Welcoming the stranger and valuing displaced and marginalised people – as opposed to scapegoating immigrants or asylum seekers for cheap political gain.
- Seeing people, their dignity and rights as a solution, not the problem. It’s been unfortunate to see politicians treating human rights as an inconvenience or evidence of EU meddling.
- Moving from punitive ‘welfare’ to a society where we can all genuinely fare well. Austerity has fallen heavily on the most marginalised. We should look to protect the disadvantaged, and shun the insulting language of ‘scroungers’ and cheats.
- Promoting community and neighbourhood empowerment. This could be through devolution, localization or participatory budgeting, anything that empowers people to have a greater say in their local affairs.
- Food, education, health, housing, work and sustainable income for all – a broad principle, but fundamentally a desire to see people flourish and have what they need to reach their full potential.
- Care for planet and people as the basis for human development. Action on climate change looms largest, but we need leaders who recognise the long term challenge of our economic model in a finite world.
- Investing in nonviolent alternatives to war and force as the basis for security. I’ve been disappointed to see politicians arguing recently over who can spend the most on the armed forces. Let’s argue about how to be peacemakers in our international affairs instead.
- Transparency, honesty and accountability in public and economic life – from MPs expenses to lobbying to tax dodging, we need politicians with personal integrity and a commitment to transparency.
I think that’s a pretty good list. You can read more about each point in Ekklesia’s paper Vote for what you believe in.