Friday, May 22, 2009


Rowan Williams is quoted in The Times as seeing the ongoing humiliation of MPs over the expenses row as being damaging to our democracy.

Is he right?

Agreed? Or just greed?

I think this is a very difficult subject, but I am inclined to go with Rowan. For what it's worth, a Parliamentary Democracy is what we have; and that means we rely on flawed people to operate it. Those who do real wrong should be made to pay back their ill-gotten gains and prevented from standing again... yes... but...

If we want paragons to populate Parliament, I'm sorry but I don't think there are 650 of them in the country. Never mind 2,600 so we can have meaningful elections & actually choose between them. And that's presuming that party machinery would actually choose those amazingly virtuous and always flawless people who would never do any wrong no matter what the circumstances, rather than people who had served their parties and impressed at selection meetings. That's right - these candidates need to be morally pure as the driven snow, able to resonate with the common voter, and communicate on TV like a seasoned actor but with the impassioned realism of Barack Obama.

I take it back. 650 of them? I don't think there are 20.

What we do want is accountability. But the drip-drip-drip of the Telegraph's revelations is not accountability. It is trial by Newsprint. It robs us of the rule of Parliament, which is how we are rightly governed and replaces it with rule by unelected media and by mob sentiment whipped up by said media.

Ultimately, David Cameron is right: an election will end this. But right now, I think he is wrong. An election today would be won on the whim of the press, not the merits of the case or the needs of the country. (I grant the press often influences elections - but this is exceptionally open to being the case right now.) A low turn out (due to voter disenchantment) favours radical parties (the BNP will always vote) and so skews results. I am not sure the BNP are the paragons for whom we seek.

So we are reminded by St Paul in 1 Timothy 2 to pray for all in authority "that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godlines and holiness". He was urging them to pray for Nero, who, I think it fair to say, was not many people's picture of an ideal ruler. We should heed St Paul & take our responsibility seriously. These are men & women at Westminster, not monsters. Men & women many of whom have done no wrong and all of whom have been tarred with the same brush. And even those who have sinned - are they so evil they are beyond forgiveness? Elections make for reckonings. Newspapers inform, but must never (because they are not, repeat NOT unbiased in themselves) take up the mantle of rule.

And I will side with Rowan. Enough of this. I prefer democracy. Not the mob. Not the bully. The ballot box, not the firing squad, no matter who pulls the trigger.

Because if we let anyone suffer that firing squad, eventually somebody will be holding a gun at us.

1 comment:

Markio said...

As with any democratic system of gevernment, parliamentary democracy has its problems. I am however inclined to think we have one of the better models on offer. And you are right, we should be praying earnestly for those guys in Westminster who, regardless of political affiliation, are doing a job that I couldn't do.

We need accountability, you are right, because public money is public after all. It hardly however seems just to humiliate people who despite their crimes against thrift, and their clear disregard for the people that put them there, were at the time assured that they were acting within rules.

What I think is most interesting about this whole affair is the fact that no matter who you are, no matter what your political views, no matter your age or gender, if you are told "no-one is looking" you will push the rules to breaking point.

Do I really mean that? Can I possibly mean everybody? I certainly hope I havent menally tarred the whole world with the same brush, surely Christians must be aware some-one is watching?

Matthew 6:6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Are we agreed that the converse is true also? That any evil done in secret will be duly rewarded?

I thank God I'm not a member of parliament this week. I thank Him that we have a democracy. I pray that an election sooner rather than later wouldn't lead to a rise extremisism.