A sure sign that blogging is going mainstream and trendy: David Cameron is blogging. The site is even very ‘Web 2.0’, with video blogs, a forthcoming tag cloud, and a chance to add a widget to your own site. I may sound cynical, but on the other hand when was the last time a Conservative Party conference included a social action project? And when did such topics as the environment, social justice, globalisation and global poverty feature prominently on their agenda? Of course we still have to see whether Cameron will put substance on the style, but what if he does?
I was brought up Conservative. The first General Election at which I was entitled to vote was 1979, and I voted Tory. But that brought Margaret Thatcher to power, and working as a civil servant in social security I saw the devastating effects of her policies upon the poor and I’ve never voted for them since.
And if Cameron persists in claims to clean up politics after Labour I’ll be very sceptical. Blair said in 1997 he’d do that after Conservative sleaze. We were promised an ethical foreign policy and so on. I don’t believe one party is naturally morally purer than the others. There has to be more than, ‘The old régime stinks, somebody else must be better.’ But if the Cameron revolution does get beneath the surface I seriously wonder what I will do. Perhaps many others will, too. You’re probably not meant to admit that in the circles I often move in (and especially as one who was an officer of his union in the civil service), but honesty is a virtue and this is one thing I’m wrestling with politically right now.
Of one thing I have been sure for some years: it has been increasingly difficult to decide on clear Christian ethical terms which party should get my vote. There are worthy aspects to each of the main parties, but they all have serious drawbacks as well. (And, by the way, I applaud those Christians – including some dear friends – who get involved in party politics and live with these tensions at much quarters than I do.) At the last General Election it all seemed so murky to me that I even consulted a website that asked me to express my opinion on about twenty major policy issues and it then calculated with which party my views most closely corresponded. If I recall, I came out firstly Liberal Democrat, secondly Green, thirdly Conservative and fourthly Labour. Where I will be by the time of the next General Election I don’t know. If ever Christians needed discernment, wisdom and prayer it is in this arena.