Chicago, Burton Joyce and the General Election: 4 May

Apologies for a month’s gap. After Easter my Jewish aunt in America died. I rushed out to the funeral in Chicago and the government’s fear of volcanic ash stopped me rushing back. I came back to two job interviews. Life is only now settling down again.

One of the interviews was in Burton Joyce, (with Bulwell and Stoke Bardolph) NE of Nottingham. The panel were surely the most insightful, intelligent, inspired, and boldest, in the country for they appointed me as their new vicar. I arrived late for the meeting with the PCC and refused to eat the sausage rolls, but they still appointed me. The job is half time, Sundays and three days a week, starting date to be arranged. Thank God!

In and for my father’s Jewish family I am an oddity. Everyone is Chicago was welcoming, some interested in my Christian point of view, some taken aback but in no way rejecting. In and for my mother’s Roman Catholic family I am also accepted, with a hint of having sold out to the other side. But my mother’s mother, before marrying an Irish doctor, had been brought up in an Anglican vicarage – in Hawksworth, seven miles from Burton Joyce! My grandmother talked about her family being the first people in the village to have bicycles. After a round-about family journey, I follow my great-grandfather as a Nottinghamshire vicar.

Ten days ago I was wondering if I would be back for the General Election. How amazing that the Liberal Democrats have suddenly passed the tipping point of electability! My daughter heard people talking in a London pub, saying there was no point in voting Labour as they hadn’t a chance of being elected. Better to vote Lib Dem. Such is the power of TV debates. Once the TV presents the third party as on a par with the dominant two, so it comes to pass. Gordon Brown must be ruing having agreed to the process.

Five years ago I thought that the next election would be a turning point for the Lib Dems because of Iraq. At the time they were alone in opposing the military intervention and I thought that people would eventually see how right they were. But now, despite being not so distinctive on Afghanistan, we have indeed reached the point of electoral returns for the Third Party. To seal the sea change may they have the courage to insist on proportional representation in future UK elections.

The rise, or resurrection after 100 years, of the Liberals reflects changes in British society. They lost ground to the Union-supported socialists when industrial production, controlled and lived off by the wealthy, as they had controlled and lived off their rural estates, was dominant. The Liberals now regain ground against Labour as industrial production has declined in significance. Tony Blair bizarrely continued the bias against manufacturing which Margaret Thatcher had instigated. Maybe this fundamental betrayal of the industrial working classes will prove to have been the killer of the Labour Party.

A few years ago Tony Blair appeared instead to be the saviour of the Labour Party. Labour seemed stuck in its old socialist state-ownership engineer-equality ideology when history had proved this unworkable or worse. Bright politicians of conviction, Shirley Williams and David Owen particularly, saw no hope of reforming Labour. They left to form the alternative SDP, later to merge with the Liberals. Then Tony Blair seemed to have reformed the unreformable and Labour had his years in office. But even this was maybe the last hurrah of a historically doomed movement. Time will tell.

I have long been a supporter of the Lib Dems, seeing them as aiming mostly for fairness, while Labour aims for equality and the Conservatives for prosperity. But this time no party is promoting the policies I would vote for:

            Withdrawal from Afghanistan coupled with a strengthening of the International Criminal Court and the legal response to terrorism

            Scaling down of military forces.

            Strengthening support for asylum seekers.

            Strengthening of manufacturing, through looking hard at where we British have gone wrong and learning from other more successful nations. This will probably mean no more support for financial services. Banks should be allowed to go bust just like steel and car companies.

            A new House of Lords made up of representatives of civil society, with no place for the political parties.

            Tightening up of Primary education so that children once again become used to being told ‘You could do better than this. Do it again.’

If you want any more detail, please ask!

Roger Harper

2 Responses to “Chicago, Burton Joyce and the General Election: 4 May”

  1. Rachel White Says:

    Hello Roger – and a warm welcome to our world – which comprises Burton Joyce, BULCOTE and Stoke Bardolph! Bulwell would be a completely different challenge! Rachel.

  2. rogerharper Says:

    Thanks Rachel,

    I have a lot to learn!


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