King's Evangelical Divinity School

12 March 2010

Heaven Help Us!

I know, I know! In light of a recent lecture I attended I'd promised to post a comment explaining why Evangelicalism and liberation theology simply don't mix. Unfortunately, I'm still working on it. But the main reason for the delay is that since returning from the US I've had several major issues to deal with, including finalising a chapter for a new book, so please forgive me. I promise to post the liberation theology piece shortly.

But in the meantime, I thought I'd comment very briefly on the recent media fuss surrounding the distant possibility of Nick Clegg, leader of the UK Liberals (or is it the Lib Dems? They change their name so often), becoming part of a new government after the forthcoming general election as a result of the possibility of a hung parliament. My view is, let's hope and pray this is not the case. Here are my reasons why.

First, if it were to happen it would be extremely anti-democratic, that a minority third party could somehow disproportionately dictate terms in order to establish a new (but rather weak) government. Secondly, of course, such a move would only come at a cost, namely, the LibDems' insistance of the introduction of proportional representation (PR). Result? Well, currently we are looking at a once-in-a-generation event, namely, a hung parliament. Yet the introduction of PR would ensure a litany of hung parliaments every few years... in short, weak government. Indeed, those of you who strongly dislike Israeli governments, PR is one of that country's greatest political downfalls, where decision-making grinds to a halt.

But, of course, my main reason for dismissing the LibDems is how their current leader Mr Clegg is the first of a major (sic) political party to announce he is an atheist. It rather concerns me. After all, Gordon Brown claims to be a son of the manse and look where his moral compass has led this country. Meanwhile, Tony Blair expressed an obsession with issues of faith but he too let Christian values down pretty badly during his tenure of power. Imagine, then, in this climate a political leader who is pretty dismissive of faith securing an element of power in the forthcoming election (together with constitutional changes which secure that political role). Heaven help us!


Dissenters said...

Many of these issues are discussed over at the science and values blog.

There is concern that even the Tories will force changes in faith schools and religious organisations that go against the freedom of faith communities and parents wishes in terms of teaching about creation or sexual ethics etc. - so now doubt the Lib Dems will put pressure on a minority government to secularise faith schools and deny freedom of conscience for Christians.

As for proportional representation, the fairest scheme would be to have seats of equal size. At present Scottish and urban seats seem smaller than rural southern ones. i.e. it favours Labour. Scotland and Wales already have another level of government and Scottish MPs can vote on English legislation that will not affect their own constituents.
Andrew Sibley

Wayne Smith said...

Minority/coalition government and proportional voting are the norm in most developed countries, and have been for most of the last century. They do not lead to "weak government". They lead to voters who are more satisfied with government, politics, and politicians.

Nor do they lead to giving minority third parties disproportionate power. With proportional voting, parties get power in proportion to the votes they receive. Hence the name.

It is the current system that gives one political party all the power, even though most people voted against them. Now that's disproportionate power.

As for a hung parliament being a once-in-a-lifetime experience, get used to it. The UK has evolved into a multi-party universe, and sticking with a two-party voting system will create more and more problems down the line.

Calvin L. Smith said...

"Get used to it".

You rather sound like a LibDem yourself, Wayne (and a somewhat hopeful one at that).

Forgive me, but I am struggling to understand how minority kingmakers somehow makes for better democracy. I have yet to visit a country where coalition g't is as widely loved as you suggest.

Vee said...

I have just written a post in hopes that you will write a few insightful words on Evangelicalism and Liberation Theology!

Both Carla from More Books and Things
and myself are waiting in anticipation Calvin!

Carla's post:

And my post:

Take care


Stephen Kneale said...

I agree with you Calvin, the idea that a minority party can hold the balance of power is undemocratic. However, do you not see that as specifically a problem cause by the FPTP system? We elect individual constituency members on flimsy majorities and then form governments on even weaker ones. The system is undemocratic to begin with and a hung parliament is just another expression of that.

As for PR always causing weak governments to form does it not depend on the form of PR being advocated? Labour are already planning a referendum on PR (the Alternative Vote system) if they are re-elected. Under the Jenkins Commission, commissioned by Labour and then duely ignored, this system was roundly rejected for inbuilt bias towards the Labour Party.

Jenkins actually advocated the AV+ system. It is the same system used in Northern Ireland and still manages to produce clear results (DUP having a clear majority). Bear in mind, this majority has been achieved on top of the extra checks and balances inherent in the Northern Irish system which the rest of the UK would not need to implement.

Surely, it is more democratic to elect representatives on over 50% of the vote and form governments on actual majorities? That PR always forms weak government is not necessarily true. It depends entirely on the system of PR advocated?

Surely we can't pretend the system we have no is democratic when, in the past, we've had constituency members voted in on less than 30% of the vote!