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How would Jesus vote? 

Election2010170With the election campaign in full swing and polling day approaching, columnist Biddy Collyer tries to answer the question “How will I vote?”

 
The polling card has plopped through the letter box. Time is slipping away. In a month’s time I must make my mind up. I had thought of spoiling my voting paper by scrawling across it, “None of the above”, but that is just to have a tantrum.
  
I am passionate about how fortunate I am to live in a free democracy; women fought hard for me to have the vote. I am not about to stay at home.
  
On a recent visit to my daughters in London, we had a heated debate about how we would vote.
Both seem pretty clear, but not me. I said that it was my intention to write to all the candidates in my constituency and ask them to respond to the questions that are on my mind.
  
I haven’t yet done so, so here goes:
  • “What sort of society do you want to promote?”
  • “How important is social justice to you and what would you do to ensure it?”
  • “What is your belief system?”
  • “How would you build a more equal society?”
  • “Would you protect the overseas aid budget?” 
I recently read ‘Who is my neighbour?’, a letter from the House of Bishops to the people and parishes of the Church of England. If you haven’t done so, I recommend it. It is well thought through. It hasn’t told me how to vote, but it has clarified the questions that need to be asked.
 
It also points to the need of a new vision, away from the polarisation of either state or market, towards thinking about how we can best build communities where all can flourish. It challenged me to think about what is best for others, rather than for me as an individual.
 
This should be an obvious question for me as a Christian, but too often the need to protect what I have can colour my response at the polling booth.
 
A close friend lives and works in Stoke-on Trent. When I visited, I saw a broken city, struggling to come to terms with a lack of jobs, a lack of hope, a lack of vision. She has worked tirelessly to address the inequalities in her region. It has been uphill work, but she hasn’t given up. One idea the council in Stoke had was to sell off almost derelict terrace houses for £1. It is working. Those streets are beginning to live again. Emma Bridgewater has her main factory there.
 
Change is slowly taking place but when Linda comes to Norwich, I realise that I live in a different, much more prosperous world than her. That’s not fair.
 
So, maybe the question for me, faced with all the inequalities, hardship and poverty that still exists is, “How would Jesus vote?”
 
This column first appeared in the Eastern Daily Press
 
Biddy CollyerBiddy Collyer is a trustee of Dreams & Visions and former Director of Pregnancy Choices Norfolk.

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