The UK awoke last week to an astonishing election statistic: the UK Independence Party received 3 million votes – the third most popular party in the nation. It is well known for its hardline stance against immigration and its anti-European message, but its domestic policies largely slipped beneath the radar, barely receiving more than a passing remark from commentators.
If the Church has a role in shaping the political debate, it is surely to consider how any party’s policies will impact on the country’s most vulnerable citizens. Welfare restructuring, education reform, social housing policy and NHS ineligibility are critical issues for the marginalised and destitute, and it is precisely in these areas where UKIP has focused its major domestic agenda.
Individual political persuasion is shaped by family background, personal experience and circumstance, but as Christians we all share a common thread; an obligation to consider what our shared humanity means in a world of breath taking inequality. It may not dictate our political opinion but it does demand that we explore fully what it means to live out the Christian testimony that we are members one of another, made for mutual dependence. That obligation extends to banishing prejudice, intolerance and oppression wherever we encounter it, be it in the street, the pew or at the ballot box.
Helen Richardson, Assistant Diocesan Secretary