Conservative Contenders

The contest to be Number Ten’s next occupant all seems rather seedy and disreputable, with senior Conservatives publicly criticising each other with online ads targeting party members to vote this way or that (I am not a such a member). Both candidates, Mrs Truss and Mr Sunak, seem to be offering a new vision. Both explain what they would do differently, both are expanding how under their benevolent gaze the economy will grow, immigration shall reduce and education improved. Yet the British system of government is not presidential, with one person at the top calling the shots. It is collegiate, or Cabinet-style. It means each minister is responsible for what every other minister does. If they do not like it, they must change their colleagues’ minds or resign. So to hear both candidates criticise each other and Boris Johnson is a little puzzling- they are constitutionally responsible for everything he, and their rival, did. Too often, politicians promise change and reform, when what we most need is calm and stability. As Michael Oakeshott wrote in Rationalism in Politics and Other Essays:

In political sail a boundless and bottomless sea; there is neither harbour for shelter nor floor for anchorage, neither starting-place nor appointed destination. The enterprise is to keep afloat on an even keel; the sea is both friend and enemy, and the seamanship consists in using the resources of a traditional manner of behaviour in order to make a friend of every hostile occasion.

A wax dummy

Democracy is a wonderful aperitif for the Kingdom of heaven. Seeing so much offered and so little delivered, we soon grow weary of elected politicians, and pine for Christ’s firm and equitable rule. Much as I wish both candidates well, and we as a church shall pray for the next Prime Minister once he or she assumes office, I look forward to the day when I have no Prime Minister at all.

His delight is in the fear of the Lord,
And He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes,
Nor decide by the hearing of His ears;
But with righteousness He shall judge the poor,
And decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth,
And with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked.
Righteousness shall be the belt of His loins,
And faithfulness the belt of His waist.

Isaiah 11:3-5, NKJV