Radio Leicester Thought for the Day

John Denney, 11 May 2001


So it’s day four of the General Election campaign.  From now to polling day, we’re going to be bombarded with party political broadcasts and leaflets through our doors.  The political journalists will dominate our news and current affairs programmes, and there are going to be countless interviews and debates.  One party has already published its manifesto and all the others will be announced in the next few days. Every candidate and every party is going to make promises about what they will do if we’ll only vote for them.  Our job is to decide: will they fulfil those promises?


Politicians, it is said, are held in very low esteem by the public.  Even politicians have always been cynical about their profession.  The Greek politician Themistocles wrote around 470 BC “If you showed me two roads, one to Hell and one to politics, I’d choose the one to Hell every time”.  And even Winston Churchill was a bit jaundiced about politics.  Someone asked him what was the main qualification for being a politician.  He replied, “The ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month and next year – and the ability afterwards to explain why it didn’t happen.”


Whether we want it or not, we have an important duty come polling day.  We have the right to help choose the person we want to be our representative in parliament.  We have the right to influence the policies that will govern the country over the next few years. People struggled and some died to win us the right to vote, and we have a responsibility to use our vote wisely.


So what qualities should we look for in choosing which candidate to vote for?  The Bible outlines the qualities that God expects of Christian leaders.  Many, I suggest, should apply when we’re choosing our MPs.  The leader, says the Bible, must be above reproach ... faithful to their partner ... temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, persuasive, not given to excessive wine, gentle rather than violent,  not quarrelsome, not a lover of money ... have a well organised personal life, be of good reputation, and be sincere and worthy of respect.[1 Tim 3:2-4, 8]


That’s a pretty tall order!  How many of us measure up?  But we are entitled to expect more of our politicians than we are of ourselves.  For after all, we give them, for a time, great power over us.  Let us choose politicians with those good biblical qualities, and let them exercise those good personal qualities as they govern us.


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