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Labour Pains 1: An Honest Politician.

 

As many of you know my faith is political, actually the Kingdom of God is massively political.

For me, the party which I feel most embodies these Kingdom values is the Green/Labour Party which I passionately support, more recently we have seen much press stuff about a Jeremy Corbyn, politics, loyalty, electoral success, principal and pragmatism…
I think the events of the last few months have much we in the Christian Community can learn from, my prayer with this blog that whatever your political opinions you maybe able to see past these to the points that we can learn from as Christians.
I’m thinking primarily what is the appeal of Corbyn?
In Portsmouth there is a pub called “The Honest Politican”, the name is amusing and memorable because ‘U Turns’ happen all the time, manifesto pledges are broken, lies are good and called ‘spin’… Politicians aren’t always known for their honesty.
In fact we have had decades of politics that been spun, twisted, sexed up and manipulated in do many ways from Blair with his army of spin doctors, or former PR Man Cameron, we have become used to style over substance and presentation over policy.
Everything had been sugar coated for so long, that people have become sick of the sugar and spin…
After all this we see politicians are treated suspicion and mistrusted, and do many people don’t vote, and the biggest looser in all this is democracy.
So many people , are disengaged to the point of saying “they are all the same” and believe that “nothing ever changes”.
With Jeremy Corbyn we see that not everyone IS the same and things can change and are worth fighting for.
In Corbyn many of us have  seen someone of conviction, someone who believes what they say, someone who historically put principal above promotion.
The problem is this reputation for integrity and principal was earned for over 25 years in more or less obscurity, seemingly unnoticed.
A good test of character is what are people like when times are good?
Grainy photos exist of Corbyn bring arrested in a protest against apartheid when it seemed like a lost cause. His protests against the war in Iraq must have felt like failure when the commons voted over-whelmingly to go to war.
Yet now his uncompromising integrity swept him from the obscurity of the back benches to the leadership of his party.
In many ways the story of Corbyn reminds me a little of the story of Joseph, whose preparation for prime minister was slavery with Potiphar and a Prison cell.
What if us, do we have integrity when no one is looking, do we fight for justice when it appears that no one else cares or is bothered?
The problem is that very few people can take Corbyn on because many are tainted with bad votes, broken promises and compromised principals. Our lives when no one appears you’ve paying attention really matter.
We live in a world desperate for authenticity and integrity, the problem is that sadly it is far too rare.
The world is full of people aspiring to be more than they are, a world longing to be principled and not jaded, a world wa
It is so easy to go back on a promise when no one appears to notice, to go along with the crowd (or the government or opposition whip), it is hard to speak truth to power, for example Claire Shorts career ended when she opposed Blairs War on Iraq.
Yet even though speaking the truth to power is costly, it remains worth it.
A good person in a corrupt world makes everyone else look bad, and they will hate you for it. I remember at a funeral of a guy called Paul who because of his Christian Faith refused to skive work like his colleagues did… They used to tell him “You working makes us look bad” -In many ways it is a picture of Christ, the light of the world, walking amongst the darkness of humanity, and caused sinful humanity to crucify Jesus. As John says “the light has come, but people preferred darkness for their deeds were evil”.
Doing the right thing even though it is unpopular isn’t a wise thing in politics, principals cost votes because if you nail your colours to a mast there will be people who disagree. Speech writers work hard in their speeches to not actually say anything other than empty platitudes.
If we say what we believe, will we be elected? The problem is that it is easy to sell our integrity and compromise our convictions to gain power, but the problem with convictions and integrity as once it has been sold off it is hard to recapture, compromise gets easier and easier the more you do it.
The argument is that if you sell out your principals you get power and are able to do something with it, and in one sense it is true, but this is not the way of God, not the way of the Kingdom, I believe that to  do the right thing in the right way there is always a way if we look hard enough, often the wrong way is so often the easiest and most obvious way.
Yet the question should be, can we see governments form that are based on their principals rather than simply the quest to say whatever needs saying to get into power?
What about us as people, are our lives marked by brave integrity, principled courage as we speak unpopular truth irrespective of whether we are going with the tide or against it.
Two quotes to end with “Only dead fish swim with the tide” and “Kites fly against the wind”.
The challenge for us all is to be people who:

Do the right thing, both when it is visible but also when it isn’t.

Doing the right thing when it is popular and also when it isn’t.
To realise that who we are matters more than what we say.
The followers of Christ often look like we have learned a lot from the school of spin and not enough time in the school of authenticity…
Perhaps lives would be more impacted if as Churches (the people of God) if we were less glossy and more real?
Jesus called us to pick up our cross and follow him, a call of integrity and call against the prevailing culture on the narrow and rocky path.
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