Well another Prime Minister has gone. I just popped upstairs for a few minutes to wrap Sarah’s Birthday present and came back downstairs again to find it was all change. Here are a couple of initial thoughts.
First that response of anger and sadness at the utter mess is right. The people harmed most by the chaos and mess are the most vulnerable in society. Second that humour is also a legitimate and healthy response. It reminds us of the futility of human hubris. God himself laughs in derision when rulers rage (Psalm 2:4). Humour is also, especially in some cultures like the British one, a way of expressing anger, bewilderment and even lament.
Third, whilst humour, anger and robust challenge are important, it is also very vital that we respect individuals as people made in the image of God. I have been disturbed by the level of misogynistic abuse directed at female politicians. The hashtag #ThickLizzie was disgusting and would not have been used against a male politician. We’ve seem the same kind of treatment on all sides against women politicians including Dianne Abbot, Harriet Harman, Theresa May and Nicola Sturgeon. Margaret Thatcher experienced similar treatment not just from her opponents but even from her colleagues.
Fourth, I remember the response from those on the right to Jeremy Corbyn standing as Labour Leader. There was a level of delight at Labour’s plight, including people deliberately joining Labour and voting for Corbyn because they believed it would lead to Labour’s implosion. As it turns out, that belief almost came back to bite them in 2017. Although I’ve never been a natural Labour supporter, I could not share that delight and mirth because it was more tragedy than comedy. I believe that our democracy depends on having at least two functioning, credible options for office. Government also depends upon robust accountability from a functioning opposition. It was not in the country’s interests to have the opposition hit the self-destruct button. Indeed, I think that the Conservatives suffered from that period when there wasn’t a real and credible alternative. I think we can trace some of their problems back to that.
So, I would in turn urge those who lean to the left politically to be careful about taking over delight in the way that the Conservatives have hit the self-destruct button. Ultimately this is not in the interests of the Labour Party or the country. I’m sure also that Keir Starmer will want to win a mandate through a genuinely competitive General Election, if he does win and not by default.
Finally, and most importantly, we as Christians have a specific response to this. This starts with prayer. Christians are enjoined to pray for those in authority. We should seek the welfare of our country and pray for peace and stability. It goes on beyond that though. In a world where rulers rise and fall, where politicians make and break promises, we offer out hope in the God whose kingdom stands firm and secure, who never breaks his promises and remains faithful to his word.