ISBN 9780281061921 (0281061920)
SPCK, 2009 (116pp)
Some readers will be familiar with this slim book’s predecessor, Votewise, put together by Nick Spencer on behalf of the Jubilee Centre in Cambridge in 2005. This is not to imply that if you’ve got the earlier volume you don’t need this one. You do! “A week is a long time in politics”, said Harold Wilson. And he should know. And at the risk of stating the obvious, five years is even longer. A great deal has happened in the intervening weeks and years, not least the elevation of a new and hitherto unelected Prime Minister, British withdrawal from Iraq, the credit crunch and the expenses scandal. Many of us will need a great deal of foundational guidance, faced as many of us will be with the usual confusion over what lies between what is said and what it really means and lots of unfamiliar and hence thus far untrusted people to vote for.
Now more than ever you need to exercise your right to vote. Without the prophetic voice of the Church, the country really will hasten more quickly down the road to ruin. With our voice we may yet turn our nation to wise and spiritually acceptable values. Apathy is not a Christian option. There has been a downturn in the number of voters in the UK over the last 13 years. Trust in the process has been seriously fractured as a result of disappointment following the New Labour landslide of 1997, but has received a body-blow as a result of the expenses scandal. Hope frequently follows trust down the grid. I hope that will not be the case for us as we approach the forthcoming election.
Votewise Now! is comprised of 10 chapters on crucial issues which will decide the next election. At least I hope that is so rather than the simple genuflection to celebrity exposure. Those ten subject areas cover the economy, criminal justice, health, education, the environment, international order, nationhood and immigration, tax and benefits, employment and housing. All are written by well-informed Christians with a background in these topics. All lay out the basic issues and seek to elucidate the challenges which confront us and the values which might be relevant.
Three more chapters feature committed advocates of the three biggest parties, all MPs and all well-respected for their faith commitment and their work in the Houses of Parliament.
I cannot recommend this book’s 116 pages highly enough. Whilst much deeper treatments of all the subject areas could be consulted in the coming weeks and perusal of the party manifestos is also important, none of those will help you decide where to put your cross come the day. This is obviously the value of a manageable volume written by trusted fellow Christians. So get Votewise Now! And get voting with greater confidence.
Robert Willoughby, April 2010
Robert Willoughby teaches New Testament and Children’s Ministry at London School of Theology. He is the author of The Children’s Guide to the Bible, Angels and So, who is God?, all from Scripture Union, and is a regular contributor to Scripture Union’s daily Bible reading notes, Encounter with God.
Previously published by London School of Theology. Reused here by kind permission.