Friday, 18 August 2017

Reviewing our own manifestos is useful

AT the time of writing our country’s political parties are releasing (or leaking) their manifestos for the general election next month.

These manifestos are important. They are far more than a list of promises because they give the electorate an insight into the party’s core values.

They reveal something of the party’s political “creed”, what they believe, what sort of society they want to develop, what responsibilities should fall upon individuals and corporations and where government should step in and assume control, or not as the case may be.

However, party political manifestos have another important purpose in our democratic system.

Much is made of decisions by governments to implement policies which were not in its manifesto.

A recently abandoned/delayed decision by the Chancellor to increase National Insurance contributions on the self-employed is but one recent example.

The same applies to promises made but not delivered. Manifestos enable Parliament and the electorate to hold parties and governments to account, in common parlance, “to hold their feet to the fire”.

So my Thought for the Week is this: as individuals, might we set out our own personal manifestos and, as our political parties do on a periodical cycle determined by elections, review and revise them in ever-changing circumstances? As we go about our daily lives what are the core values to which we hold fast? What are the “red lines” which we will not cross? What kind of society do we want and what are we doing to achieve it?

Such an exercise is useful for all of us to do from time to time, for those of faith or none. And then, who will hold us to account if and when we fall short?

For the Christian such an exercise may be a critical part of the outworking of our faith. The 40 days of Lent are traditionally a time of reflection and reassessment but for those of other faiths or none at all, time spent assessing and perhaps revising our cores values and commitment will never be time wasted.

The Christian will be called to account by fellow Christians and ultimately by God, who, in the words of the traditional funeral service, is our “merciful redeemer and judge”.

Whatever our beliefs, we should all be held to account by our peers, as shall be those who we elect on June 8 to represent us in Parliament.

Before we can be held to account we have to have our own personal manifestos so we, and those around us, know for what we stand.

Happy general election!

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