Government and Democracy
“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their officials exercise authority
over them. But it shall not be so among you”
The United Kingdom
The Christian Party rejoices that the majority of Scotland’s population voted in the Scottish Independence Referendum on 18th September 2014 to prevent the break-up of the United Kingdom. It was no thanks to the lack lustre Better Together campaign, nor to the effete government of Prime Minister David Cameron, who appeared to be paralysed and caught in the headlights of Scottish nationalistic fervour. The Christian Party supports patriotism but not nationalism, which too easily develops into unneighbourly thought, speech and behaviour.
The Westminster establishment has known about the West Lothian Question for many decades, but it failed to address in a timely manner the constitutional issues and grievances at the heart of the nationalist argument and almost broke up the UK. Professor John Curtice of Strathclyde University said that it gambled with the UK constitution, and almost lost. It is symptomatic of recent governments that they do not listen to the voice of the people until it is almost too late. There are many examples of refusing to listen, and recent ones are the large campaigns against going to war, the redefining of marriage and teaching of gender fluidity issues in primary schools.
There is an urgent need to address the constitutional questions to redress the balance between the legislative bodies of the four constituent countries of the UK. For some time the Christian Party has endorsed equalising of powers for each national legislative body, to remove the grievance of the SNP by devolving tax-raising powers to match responsibility for government spending. The Christian Party supports a federal structure for matters of national interest, and a UK-wide parliament for defence, currency and kindred UK-wide issues such as foreign policy. This does not give more grist to the separatist mill, but addresses legitimate grievance and inequality. By empowering the constituent parts of the UK it will improve national relations and strengthen the whole.
The Christian Party is committed to small government and finds both political and theological justification for this commitment.
However, the coronavirus pandemic is a unique threat to the whole of British society necessitating Government invention reserved for critical times. For the first time in peacetime the UK Government has used national wealth to ride the economic storm caused by the coronavirus pandemic. This financial package is an attempt to preserve the business, skills and employment infrastructure in the UK so that it is still in place to recover when the pandemic diminishes.
Big Government creates more and more laws in order to justify its existence, costs more to administer and police, restricts individual freedom and has demonstrated that it is less efficient than small government.
Jesus Christ drew attention to over-regulation in ecclesiastical affairs, and the same can be true of civil government.
Leaving the European Union is a good example of recovering the flexibility of smaller government, which has helped the UK Government to address the specific countrywide coronavirus crisis with bespoke solutions. The drawn-out Brexit process is enough to deal with without the SNP raising the spectre of another constitutional issue. This is not the time to consider the SNP desire to separate Scotland from the United Kingdom but just as the coronavirus has been a catalyst for enterprise and change so it may prove to be the perfect opportunity to reconsider more effective and efficient Government throughout the UK. In the words of the economist Paul Romer “a crisis is a terrible thing to waste.”
The aim of Christian politics is to ensure that Government restricts itself to things that only Government can do, and to do it well. This includes facilitating the means to promote and maintain standards in the private sector for the common weal according to the principles of social justice.
The Christian Party believes in local democracy and calls for more involvement of the community in its own government. We are opposed to the reduction of town and community councils, believing that they are more efficient at identifying and delivering what is needed at the local level. The Christian Party will develop town and community councils as a cost-effective way to deliver local services to local people.
Pressure is building to reform the House of Lords, which looks like a quango with its nepotism and its methods of appointment and political favouritism. Suggestions about its relocation to the north of England is an opportunity to reform the House of Lords.
We believe in bi-cameral government but the Scottish Parliament is currently unicameral. A geographically central House of Lords should be a revising and scrutinising chamber for each constituent Parliament of the UK, with a federal relationship between the constituent UK Parliaments, dealing with the West Lothian problem and making each Parliament equally responsible for devolved matters. The new geographically central House of Lords could convene plenary sessions for conjoint national or ‘reserved’ matters.
Devolution of power to national Parliaments created an extra tier of government, which has been used for competing loci of authority, destabilizing the unity of the United Kingdom.
The current competing powers are not working and geographical relocation will give opportunity for a complete review of the role and relationship of local and national governments, their composition and powers. It will also hasten and promote the much-needed electronic change in Parliamentary procedures, which the coronavirus pandemic is hastening.
We are not convinced that a wholly elected House of Lords is the answer, and we believe that demonstrated expertise should be the hallmark of House of Lords membership.
Quangos perpetuate groups and organisations favoured by the Government. This is not sufficiently transparent. They are accountable only to the hand that feeds them and they are insufficiently accountable to the public. It has all the appearance of ‘jobs for the boys’. The system is unfairly biased towards organisations with strong lobbying ability and geographically close to the centre of Government. This has stoked up resentment in peripheral areas of the country to the extent that nationalism is threatening the unity of the United Kingdom.
Rather than supporting quangos the Christian Party supports efforts to decentralise government but this is best done through devolving more power to local authorities, which circumvents Scottish and Welsh nationalism’s desire to break up the UK.
The European Union
It was common to hear the phrase ‘too big to fail’ with respect to bailing out the banks. It is now apparent that they were ‘too big to manage’. The same is true of the European Union, which is in danger of failing on a grand scale. The economic and social pressures on the disparate economies of the EU are encouraging far right political groups and threatening civil disorder. Britain is exiting the European Union not a moment too soon as the forces for greater integration are creating greater strain upon its cohesion.
As our closest neighbours and future trading partners the Christian Party continues to view the European Union with concern. In keeping with our rejection of ‘big Government’, our belief in the democratic deficit in the European Union and our concern that some institutions are ‘too big to manage’, Christian concern for our neighbour warns against the dangers inherent in trying to develop a European superstate. The British people voted for a free trade area – a Common Market – and this is still a worthy goal. An ordered return to such a concept may not suit those Europeans who have spoken of ‘the age of empires’ but the tensions among member states suggest that an orderly reappraisal of European goals is in order.
When Britain embraced Europe, she was persuaded to abandon the Commonwealth. The Christian Party welcomes the flexibility that Brexit gives us to restore trade with the Commonwealth and to explore new international partnerships.
The failure of the SNP to address the inequitable fishing quotas during the decades of the UK membership of the EU emphasizes the importance of the UK-wide negotiations to secure the future of the UK fishing industry, which was decimated during our membership of the EEC and the EU.
The duty and priviledge of voting in elections
The Christian Party supports the principle of ‘one person, one vote’. The size of the democratic deficit in the United Kingdom calls into question the legitimacy of the electoral mandate of many politicians. We do not blame the voters for non-engagement with untrustworthy politicians, but we call upon them to use their vote to express their displeasure with such.
The Christian Party considers voting in civic elections to be both a duty and a privilege, bought with the blood and sacrifice of earlier generations. The Scottish Independence Referendum with a turnout of 87% shows that the public will engage in politics if the subject is serious enough, and so a responsibility lies upon politicians to engage the minds of the public. This is tied to the political process and the ease with which new ideas can be expressed, and to this end we propose a change in the policy on funding political parties.
Funding for political parties
The public has disengaged with politics and politicians when they can see no opportunity to make a difference. It is imperative that increased choice is available at the ballot box. However, there are multiple hurdles impeding the emergence of new political parties. The Christian Party will work towards improving public coverage for smaller political parties.
The Christian Party opposes the funding of political parties from public funds, but it acknowledges the difficulty and dangers of depending upon funds from a few individuals and institutions. Instead, political parties should be given the same status as charities for the purposes of fundraising. This will avoid the need to set up charitable arms of political parties to gather funds. At present a charity cannot support a political party. We propose that charities can donate and support political parties that have similar aims to its charitable aims. This is a more equitable and accountable way to fund political parties and will interest and engage more people in the political process.
Choice and liberty
Two world wars were fought for choice and liberty. They arise from Christian principles at the heart of our Constitutional Acts, our Christian Monarch promising before God as Head of State to apply law in justice and mercy. This choice and liberty limits governmental interference with charities and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). We disapprove of Government grants supporting performing arts that are directed to a selective clientele rather than the general public and in particular promoting unchristian practices and lifestyles.
The Christian Party draws attention to the insidious effects upon our domestic and civil liberties by 1. international campaigns such as Stonewall and Black Lives Matter, 2. mainstream media such as Russia Today and the use of social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram, 3. the power and influence of multinational corporations 4. online businesses such as Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google (the so-called FANGs), 5. the numerical weight of the Russian, Chinese and Indian nations, none of which use our internal political process but who use their considerable international presence to influence UK youth who are being poorly served by our educational system.
Having been delivered from the unaccountable EU, with its detrimental financial and legal influence, the UK should beware of the impact on our civil liberties through the misapplication of political correctness filling the void through government quangos using their Government-funded influence instead of the more difficult political process and winning popular support through elections. Government funding gives undue prestige and credibility to those who are funded only emphasizing the need stated above for proper funding of the political process.
In theory the Christian Party approves of the concept of postal votes, but its abuse and its apparent favouring of mainstream parties suggests that it needs to be reformed. We agree with the restriction of postal voting to those who are unable to attend a polling station.