As the dust of the election settles, much remains uncertain

Four days after the country went to the polls, Grace Pengelly, the URC Secretary for Church and Society, reflects on the uncertain political landscape we are currently inhabiting.

Since Theresa May called the snap election on 18 April, politicians and political parties have campaigned intensively, seeking to secure their place in our next government. Voters were encouraged to reflect on the challenges that face the whole of the UK, as well as those specifically affecting our most marginalised individuals and communities. Many of our churches will have played a crucial role in this process, hosting hustings that provided a platform for parliamentary candidates to present their policies to the local electorate.

Tragically, the election also provided the backdrop for two terrorist attacks in Manchester and London. It is testament to the professionalism our uniformed services, and our politicians, that our election took place peacefully, without further disruption. 

As no party secured an outright majority in the election, the Conservative party and the Democratic Unionist party (DUP) are exploring whether a confidence and supply deal can be struck. Any such arrangement will present its own challenges, not simply for parliament, but also for the work of government in Northern Ireland. Such an arrangement with the DUP, even though informal, presents new questions about the way the British government might contribute to Northern Irish affairs.

Concerns have also been raised about the DUP’s positions on human sexuality, reproductive rights and climate change – which run counter to the positions held by the Conservative party, and all mainstream political parties in the UK.

URC members in all nations are invited to pray for our political parties over the coming days, that the decisions they make collectively may be in the best interests of those in most need – not just in the United Kingdom, but also around the world. We pray for a fairer, more just and more equitable society, which provides hospitality to those in most need, and which embraces the diversity and multiculturalism of the UK.

We think particularly of those politicians who, on 19 June, will start negotiating the terms of Brexit. As a denomination, we have encouraged the government to provide a guarantee that the rights of EU nationals living in the UK will be upheld and guaranteed as soon as possible. We also encourage any incoming government to prioritise climate justice, and to hold President Trump to account for his decision to withdraw the United States of America from the Paris Climate Agreement. 

Every General Election demands a great deal from candidates, who sacrifice time with their loved ones to campaign on behalf of their local community. As parliament resumes, we pray for those candidates who were unsuccessful in their bid for office, particularly those that lost their seats. We pray an alternative future, which uses their talents in other ways, will become clear to them,

In the weeks and months to come, the regular rhythms of political life will resume. As citizens, and as Christians, we have a vital role to play in continuing to play an active part in our democracy. This isn’t simply something restricted to polling days, but a process we are asked to engage in daily. Faith in the teaching and life of Jesus Christ commits us to work every day for the furthering of God’s Kingdom – this starts by striving for justice in our own communities and towns.

May God bless you in this task.

 

See below for the post-election prayer released by the Joint Pubic Issues Team:

Lord of all,
Amid the uncertainty of these results,
we thank you for the democracy we have in this country.

We ask that you grant to all those who have been elected the wisdom 
and compassion needed to govern.

May this become a society in which all people are enabled 
to flourish and live life in all its fullness.

Help us to play our part in building that society
by holding those elected to account and by working with 
them towards the common good.

And Lord, today as always we pray for justice,
justice in the here and now and justice in our shared 
future –

Oceans of justice.

Amen.