“There is a Christian Party – I like that!”
When Donald Dewar, the first First Minister of the reconstituted Scottish Parliament in 1999, launched the Scotland Bill in 1997 he announced: “There shall be a Scottish parliament,” and added: “I like that!”
Similarly, “There is a Christian Party – I like that!” You can add this to your repertoire of one-liners for your personal evangelism. This is good news.
Some people think that we don’t need a Christian Party. I agree. There should be many more. Meanwhile we have one in Scotland.
“There is a Christian Party – thank God for that!”
The advantages of a political party
Almost all members of parliament have reached their dizzy heights through the help of a political party.
When they are elected they say that they will represent all their constituents. This is a truism. They cannot do anything else. They are duty-bound to do so. What is more relevant is that they are indebted to the party that secured them their job. They are dependent upon it to train them, to provide them with an office, staff and supporters on the ground throughout their constituency.
Parliamentarians represent their party
Parliamentarians do not really represent you in practice, although they say that they do and are meant to, but rather they represent and support their political party and its political programme. This is why so many people vote for the party rather than the candidate.
In practice, politicians are beholden foremost to their Party and to the electorate only secondarily. Forcing a by-election if they resign or are disciplined by the Party reinforces the priority of the Party over the electorate.
If you take your Christian concerns to your MP or MSP, they will listen politely to you and reply: “I hear what you say, but I must represent all my constituents.” This is a polite way of denying support for your opinions and deflecting the blame away from their party to their constituents.
So the question arises, Who is in control of the party administration? In the UK it is not Christians. So it is time to set up a Christian Party political administration that will address issues at the political level.
Lobby groups are important and Christians have tended to use them to reach and influence politicians in several parties. Through them they hope to influence unsympathetic politicians to change the laws. How much better to have sympathetic Christian politicians in the first place? The difficulty nowadays is that there are not enough politicians who will listen even to these lobby groups, and if they want to, they are controlled by their party managers. Further, almost all political parties are happy to have a Christian section in order to attract the Christian vote, but it does not alter the secular ethos and policies of the party.
A Christian Party is necessary
This shows the necessity of having a Christian Party, to have a Christian Voice in public life and to provide the organisation for fighting elections and have Christian representation in parliament.
Political party organisation is necessary for political life. When Chuka Umunna, tipped as a future leader of the Labour Party, abandoned Labour to form The Independent Group, which failed to win any seats in the May 2019 European Parliament election, he resigned from that Party and joined the Lib Dems. He gave as one reason that he had ‘massively underestimated’ the difficulty of creating a new party. If an MP with such a public profile discovered this at this late stage in his political career, we can understand and possibly forgive those Christians who think it should be easy to set up and sustain the Scottish Christian Party.
There are hundreds of new political parties formed around the world every year, with the Brexit and Change UK parties formed in the UK in 2019. Change UK has disbanded after its failure to win any seats in the General Election. When Brexit is achieved in 2020, Nigel Farage will disband the Brexit Party and he has already registered the Reform Party to campaign for constitutional reform in view of four million voters for Brexit having no MP in Westminster but being the largest political group in the European Parliament.
Dozens of political parties have gone defunct in the UK in recent decades. This is not new. It is ‘par for the course’, because of the difficulties. You may remember these names appearing on your television screens: Referendum Party (1994-1997), Natural Law Party (1992-2004), Countryside Party (2000-2008), Scottish Enterprise Party (2004-2009), Jury Team (2009-2011), No2EU (2009-2014), Scottish Senior Citizens Unity Party (2003-2015) and Veritas (2005-2015). There are dozens of political parties which have bitten the dust in the past decade.
What you have not seen in the past decade is any television discussion nor debate with the Scottish Christian Party leader in the past ten years, because the media has shown no interest in minor political parties.
I have many personal examples of this. For example, although there will be a hustings in Dingwall tonight on 3rd December 2019, although I am a candidate in this constituency, although I have been leader of a Scottish political party for almost a decade, although I have written manifestos for Holyrood and Westminster, and I have been active and successful in my local community council, yet BBC Scotland has debarred me from being present at this hustings because I am not a member of a major political party. I will be neither on the platform nor am I allowed to to be a member of the audience.
So much for the ability of BBC Scotland personnel to create intelligent debate, while Fiona Bruce complains that the public cannot trust those whom the BBC invites on to its own platform.
This illustrates the difficulty of being heard as a minor political party and it demonstrates the need for Christians to pull together if we are to have a Christian Voice in the political arena.
Therefore it is important to know the basic philosophy of each party and to know the personal views of politicians in order to know if they will really help you. There will be many voting for a Brexit candidate because of the Brexit Party and not because of the candidate. Similarly with the other candidates in the mainline parties.
Wearing different hats
There are other considerations.
We speak of a representative democracy but parliamentarians have several different hats to wear, just as we have several legal jurisdictions in the UK – different sovereignties exhibited by Westminster, Brussels, Holyrood, the monarch and now the Supreme Court is muscling in on the act!
A parliamentarian can choose to vote 1. according to the wishes of their constituents, thus some Remainers are supporting Brexit, 2. according to the wishes of their party, thus the SNP MPs are a block vote against Brexit, 3. according to the good of the country as they understand it, thus some vote contrary to the majority of their constituents and 4. according to their own conscience, or their own opinion, thus some parliamentarians left their own party and formed a new one or joined another one.
This variety in voting is demonstrated also by the three-line whip system and by the occasional free vote. It was seen in the recent rebellion by Tory Remainers against voting for Boris Johnson’s Withdrawal Agreement Bill. There had been so much disarray and rebellion under Theresa May that they thought that there would be safety in numbers and in the significant leadership among the rebellers. They had not expectcted to be expelled from the Party and quite quickly a number of them reconsidered their errant ways and were readmitted to the party upon promise of new obedience.
This wearing of different hats to suit the occasion is common in many different spheres.
For example, the pope in Rome who in recent decades began to venture out of the Roman Vatican as the leader of Roman Catholics is also afforded the honours of being the head of the tiny Vatican state. At any one time he and his supporters can appeal to whichever hat is suitable.
How do you know which hat your MP or MSP will wear at any given time? It is not enough to know the policies of the Party but you need to know the principles of your political representative.
First things first
It is interesting to see the block voting among the SNP, who evidently determine every vote in relation to Scottish separation from the UK. They claim that they represent the Scottish people, whereas they vote according to party policy.
When will Christian politicians ‘put Christian principles first’ when voting? Tim Farron effectively admitted that he could not do so as the leader of the Lib Dems and resigned from this position. Recently a Lib Dem candidate was deselected because his voting against abortion and homosexual ‘marriage’ showed “how greatly his values diverge from” the party. This shows how much the Lib Dems have changed as a party and Christians should stop supporting the Lib Dems.
Changing party or party changing?
The Lib Dems have also self-consciously changed their values. They have specifically abandoned Christian principles and former Lib Dem leader Tim Farron was hounded out of the Lib Dem leadership and claimed that it was not possible to hold Christian principles and be leader of the Lib Dems – and he had already compromised on homosexual sex and abortion.
Similarly the Christians in the SNP have compromised on homosexual sex and abortion, such as Ian Blackford the leader of the SNP MPs in Westminster.
If political parties are changing, why do Christians not change their Party and join the Christian Party? It seems that Christians change their church sooner than they change their political party – similar to the adage that people change their spouse sooner than they change their bank!
The current first-past-the-post system of politics disenfranchises those who disagree with their current MP. In such circumstances people often take their issues to their own political party to raise the matter in parliament. This is why the agenda is dictated by secularists and not by Christians. We need Christian voices in parliament. In its absence Christians rely on organisations to lobby various parliamentarians. However, it still meets the problem of there being no distinctive Christian Voice in parliament.
A Christian Voice or a democratic deficit?
As there are no Christian Parties in Westminster, Christians cannot expect these parties to represent their views and issues. The result is a democratic deficit. Many Christians spend a large part of their adult life like this.
This situation does not contribute to empowering the public, and the major political parties are not interested in changing a system which works in their favour.
Changing political party
There are very few independent members of Parliament. If they are so, it is usually because they have left their political party, and they do not often survive the next election. The Scottish Christian Party has drawn attention to this for over a decade and in the context of an MSP being elected on a Party List system in the Scottish Parliament, we have called for legislation so that such an MSP to be replaced by the next person on the Party list. Slowly, slowly, the political process is beginning to catch up and there is now a process in the Westminster Parliament to call for a by-election, but not yet in the Scottish Parliament.
The great advantage of a political party is its collective knowledge. An independent has great difficulties in the political process. Even at local council level the council wards have been made sufficiently big that it is difficult for an individual to cover it all. Even more so with parliamentary constituencies. This is what Chuka Umunna discovered.
New parties have to reinvent the wheel and even those politicians who have been in the process discover the difficulties. UKIP had so many difficulties that Nigel Farage have up on them and began again with the Brexit Party which is not even constituted as s typical political party and he has refused to produce s manifesto but offered a contract with the voters.
Times are a’changing and it is time for Christians to consider changing their voting patterns.
Where to now?
What knowledge does the Christian Party have? There are enough Christians, knowledge, skill, money, resources among Christians to produce a program of government. It is shameful that there are not enough Christians who can see this vision. It is shameful that they leave the field to the secularists. We need Christian action.
We know that the godly are already “one in Christ Jesus”. There are good reasons why they are in different denominations of the Christian church. However, what justification can be given for their being against each other in different political parties supporting unchristian policies? I have heard all the reasons – they are responses not biblical arguments.
The worst one is that a Christian Party is dangerous! Yes, a Christian Scottish MSP is on record as saying so in The Monthly Record of the Free Church of Scotland. I spare his blushes by not naming him here. I was not offered the opportunity to reply. No platforming did not begin with the BBC, nor indeed with the Free Church of Scotland. Secular organisations have supported us and even atheists are ahead of some Christians in supporting our policies.
The aim of Christ-sent preachers is to present Christ to sinners in order that they might believe in Him and be united together in love and service to Him. Insofar as they succeed, they are glorified as preachers sent by Jesus Christ Jn 17:22 ; this is a mark of preachers sent by Christ.
It is the glory of a preacher to bring the people of God together in His service and this is what the Scottish Christian Party endeavours to do. What can be said about those who divide the flock? Why do Christians work against each other in unchristian political parties instead of uniting together to effect Christian values in public policy?
The force of numbers
Democratic politics is about numbers. It used to be numbers of soldiers that settled affairs. Now it is numbers of voters. “Jaw, jaw is better than war, war”, as Winston Churchill said. This is an improvement but there is still some way to go before the millennial blessedness is ushered in with worldwide Christian government.
Numbers influence churches also. National churches benefit from the decline in smaller churches. That fountain is drying up and now the national churches are declining fast. The UK’s national churches are failing the country and Roman catholicism benefits from their decline with high profile persons in the Church of England follow the same pathway from the smaller to the larger body.
Roman catholicism, national churches, islam, buddhism, hinduism, confucianism, communism and secularism and, yes, political parties and national governments rely upon numbers to sustain them. This is standard human behaviour. Social history shows how human beings have behaved for millennia and, for some, this is standard of behaviour. Christians should know better. Christian teaching and behaviour is counter-cultural.
Christians should know better than to trust numbers. We are to follow truth rather than numbers, but some people rely on numbers because they think the truth lies with the majority.
Gadaffi saw the same. Long before the EU immigration crisis from Syria and North Africa, Gadaffi encouraged islamic migration into Europe to swamp and convert Europe without converting Christians as such. This agenda continues on course. All EU countries have a non-sustainable birth rate among its non-muslim nationals, a divine judgment on their abortion policy.
Guy Verhofstadt of the EU thinks we are moving into the age of Empires. So does Macron of France, thinking this European Empire of his imagination will protect Europe from American, Chinese, Russian and Indian numerical, military and economic might.
Christians know better than this.
Jesus Christ teaches us to pray: ‘Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on Earth, as it is in heaven’Matthew 6:10.
21 Apr 2015: my introductory comments at the General Election hustings in Aviemore , the ‘home turf’ of Danny Alexander, MP, Chief Secretary to the Treasury 2010-201, about banking reform and quantitative easing, which is now [8 Dec 2020] called ‘fiat money’ – money created out of thin air on a banker’s computer.
9 Feb 2019: why we need Christian Voices in public life.
31 Mar 2021: should an MP resign if they leave a Party or are discipined?
There is a difference between MPs and List MSPs. Those who are elected on the List system to the Scottish Parliament should probably resign as the electorate clearly voted for the Party, and the Party decided who should be on the List and in what order. However, it is generally reckoned that an MP is accountable to the whole electorate and not to their Party and on this basis many MPs have ‘crossed the floor’ to another Party without resigning. In fact, MPs are not allowed to resign. There are ways around this and the Recall of MPs Act 2015 gives the electorate a method of calling a by-election.
Other matters to consider are 1. are constituency MSPs in the same electoral position as MPs? 2. disciplined MPs. Does it depend upon who has disciplined them? Margaret Ferrier MP has not resigned as an MP although suspended by the SNP, and the House of Commons has its own disciplinary procedures.