My friend Dale wears his political heart on his sleeve, see The Back Road Cafe. My blog has hardly ever been political. Today is different. I am not sure what has prompted me to venture into one of the areas that polite society never talks about, that is politics, sex and religion. Perhaps my silence is becoming deafening!

My Dad was a devoted supporter of the Labour Party. He was a miner in the Northeast, so the fact that he was a socialist is not surprising. My Mum would vote the opposite just to be awkward! There is one political party I have never voted for, but I have voted in most local and General elections over the last fifty years. I have on several occasions wished for an alliance between parties, the Lib/Lab pact was one example I appreciated. The more recent Libdem/Conservative Coalition was, however, unpalatable. I lean towards favouring proportional representation, often having been in the situation of having a vote in a ‘safe’ seat constituency with the sitting MP belonging to a party I would not vote for.

I still retain enough of my northern upbringing to be suspicious of power that resides in the south. So I have some sympathy for those places that want devolved power, or even independence from Westminster. I find myself dreaming of a more federal arrangement between the governments of Wales, Scotland, Ireland and England. I was living in London at the time of the first elected Mayor, and I am interested to see how the spread of this model of governance develops.

When it comes to specific policies I would look for:- a genuine caring society expressed in an effective National Health Service; adequate allowances for those who cannot earn a living; education that is based on equal opportunity, a society that welcomes refugees and embraces a multi-cultural approach and a strong commitment to protecting the environment. I think that taxation is necessary and should be proportional to income and wealth, though I would like the ability to opt out of paying taxes that go towards military expenditure. See what Christian Aid would like to happen here

I realise it is not always possible to predict the full effects of particular policies as they are worked through, so although the intention might be to create a caring and just society some steps that appear to move us towards that goal might have contrary consequences. We need to learn from our mistakes. But we should also have long term goals that go beyond particular parliamentary sessions. I do not think that any one faith has a monopoly of knowing what policies should be adopted. We need to listen and learn from one another, that means all faith groups and those who do not profess any religious allegiance.

Politicians should be respected. I have recently learned in more detail how hard-working MPs can be and how committed they are, and how principled. Nevertheless they should be answerable, not just at the occasion of a general election. More of us should be involved in the political process, though I confess that I have been reluctant to become a member of any political party. Engaging in hustings, communicating with my MP lobbying through the charities that I support have been the typical ways in which I have acted. I feel I should do more.

Despite the heartaches that I have felt at the result of many elections it is important to invest energy and commitment, including voting. This is how we show that we care about each other.

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