My View by Dr Peter Burrows: We all have a responsibility to vote

Bishop of Doncaster, Peter Burrows.
Bishop of Doncaster, Peter Burrows.

If you haven’t already noticed, the General Election is on its way.

I’ve written about this topic before, but as we approach the election it’s worth reminding ourselves - in the midst of the apathy the election is bound to engender - how important it is to use your right to vote.

In Britain many have come to view the main political parties and the promises made with disinterest at best, and outright mistrust at worst. Yet some of us still live in hope that despite the party political nature of the campaign, new politics can emerge with a government who will have at its heart human flourishing that makes a difference.

That flourishing can only become reality when different parties work together for the good of all, rather than simply promoting a particular political ideology.

That may appear naive but the benefit and welfare of the people of Britain - a society in which all can flourish and prosper, a society that is just and equal and which cares for its most vulnerable with respect, a society that takes care of its environment, a strong economy and job creation - must surely be the priority.

This is built up not through the priority of the individual but through good and strong communities.

Many will say that religion and politics don’t mix and that bishops shouldn’t interfere, but religion, by its very nature, addresses the whole of life and is therefore political though not party political.

The church and individual Christians - bishops or not - can’t therefore avoid making contributions to the debate about human flourishing and the good society, without it being interpreted by some as political.

The church has an obligation to engage with the political process because Christians share responsibility with everyone to participate in the democratic structures of our society, which includes speaking out if we believe something to be wrong and unjust. But so do all of us.

It isn’t for me or anyone else to say how someone should vote. But I do believe that we all have a responsibility to participate by exercising our right to vote, it’s one way of ensuring that politicians are held accountable and that they try and rise above the present diminished state of, and serve well, their constituencies which I know many of our politicians do.

As I concluded the last time I wrote about this, the reality is that there will be a government in power of whatever persuasion whether you vote or not. Through our democratic system we all have an opportunity to influence what this looks like and what we expect our politicians to do.