Don’t think voting is all that matters

3 July 2024

Chief Executive Andrea Williams explains that there are more ways than most of us realise to waste our votes

During election seasons, we’re bombarded with messages reminding us to vote.

We are reminded that voting is a privilege and a responsibility that we should use well to decide the future of our nation – and therefore we must make sure we are registered and turn up on the day in the right place, with the right ID.

But there are many other ways that we can waste our right to vote.

As election day approaches, let’s think carefully about the other ways in which we fail to maximise our right to vote.

1. By giving our vote away cheaply

Christians are often disillusioned at the parties and candidates on offer – particularly those from the larger parties who are more likely to win.

We are told that only a vote for Party A can stop the candidate from Party B and that we are wasting our vote if we support an independent candidate or someone from a smaller party. This leads many of us to choose ‘the least worst’ option available.

But if these candidates both support policies that we believe are bad for our nation and our neighbours, why would we lend them any of our support?

Christian Hacking from Vote Life reminded us earlier in the election:

“Let me put it in perspective. Let’s say you’ve got a local candidate, from one of the main political parties. And for all pretence and purposes, they are a brilliant candidate. They’re supportive of the local community, they are compassionate, they are kind, they are good on roads, they are good on infrastructure. In every way, they tick the boxes.

“But they simultaneously support the killing of children.

“Would you vote for them?

“This is the point. No matter how good local candidates are, if they are in support of the intentional killing of innocent human beings, then as Christians, we are morally compelled to think very, very carefully as to whether we give them our vote.”

On the whole, politicians don’t believe that issues of life, family, freedom and Christian foundations matter. Every time we hold our nose and vote for candidates who fail to stand for these fundamental issues because their parties are slightly better on some other issue, we reinforce the notion that no one cares about the 10.2 million UK citizens who were killed by abortion before their first breath, the breakdown of the family, the freedom to speak and live for Jesus and the need for him to be at the heart of society.

None of us is perfect and we can’t expect politicians to align in every respect with our beliefs. But will your vote send the message that these issues matter?

There are many smaller parties and independents standing around the country with much better policies than the established parties. You can compare what they’re saying in Tim Dieppe’s manifesto roundups. A vote for these candidates would in most cases send the message that it is worth it for politicians to be pro-life, pro-family and pro-freedom.

If there are still no appealing options in your constituency, there is always the opportunity to spoil your ballot. This shows that you are ready to vote for someone, but not those who are standing. These are checked during the counting procedure by politicians and officials and writing a short message like ‘pro-life’ instead of putting a cross will make it plain why you refused to vote for any of the candidates.

It seems to me that this is far less of a waste than to vote for a candidate you believe will do evil.

2. By ignoring the candidates themselves

In general elections, we vote for people, not for parties.

Of course, the party that a candidate stands for is important – they can be expected to support the leadership and broad vision of a party as shown in their manifesto.

But too many votes are decided wholly on national factors. Few people are really bothered about what their own MP says or does. Even the very best MPs who are men and women of integrity, who speak up for what is right and for the constituents they serve can easily lose their seats solely due to changes in the mood of national politics.

Miriam Cates, Danny Kruger and Nick Fletcher have often stood for what is right in the last parliament. But as Conservatives, they are at risk of losing their seats due to the failures of the party as a whole.

We shouldn’t let dissatisfaction with the overall direction of a party rule out the possibility of voting for a strong candidate. We should reward good candidates with our votes.

3. By ignoring politicians’ records and falling for easy soundbites

That said, talk is cheap.

There have been many MPs who have identified themselves as Christians, but acted nothing like Christians in their personal lives or in how they’ve voted on key issues.

There is also a difference between an MP who says, for example, they are pro-life and one who turns up to every relevant debate, speaking clearly and voting against abortion.

We are currently being told that Labour supports the conclusion of the Cass Review, believes in single-sex spaces, and believes that only women have cervixes. While we absolutely must believe in the possibility of people changing their mind and repenting, we shouldn’t be taken for fools by hollow soundbites.

For most of its 14 years in government, the Conservative Party was accelerating the LGBTQ+ agenda. In the past year or so, they started to recognise the damage that was being done through policies they had previously championed. Is that enough to enthusiastically vote Conservative? No. But it does lend slightly more credibility to their support of the Cass Review and single-sex spaces.

So when we vote, it is not all about what a politician or party says they believe, but we should consider their credibility, competence and courage in following through with what they say.

4. By thinking voting is all that matters

Although each of our votes is precious, it is also one of the least impactful actions that each of us could do.

What is the chance that your single vote will end up deciding who your MP is? Vanishingly small.

In election season, once every five years or so, we rightly want to spend time thinking about who we will vote for. But in reality, all sorts of other actions we could take will be more significant in shaping our nation.

These include writing to your MP about an issue, giving practical support to a good candidate, signing petitions and sharing information with church friends and family.

Prayer will likely make an even bigger difference.

A single vote does send a message. But how we live for the 1,800 days in between elections will be far more influential in seeing this nation shaped by Jesus.

You can waste your vote by failing to back it up with the way you live with your family, in your workplace or in your church.

If we allow the pressures of our anti-Christian culture to relegate our faith to something we do for a 30-minute quiet time each morning and slightly longer on Sundays, we are failing to embrace our calling.

There are non-Christians to reach with the gospel. There are children to be trained and nurtured as Christians. There are people who need help with their finances, their heating or food. There are addicts who need healing from drink, drugs, gambling, pornography and sex. There are women who need practical support to help them avoid the abortion industry’s lies.

Christian individuals and organisations are doing all of the above. At Christian Concern, we are determined to help those ministries flourish with practical support, advice and – when needed – expert legal support.

A nation with Jesus Christ at its heart would value life, promote the family and protect freedom. This would be good news for everyone.

Would you join me in working to make that a reality here in the United Kingdom?

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