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Letter from the Rectory - July 2024

Dear Friends,


The 2024 General Election is nearly upon us. It seems longer than four and half years since the last one. We don’t need reminding that we’ve been through a tumultuous period with the Covid-19 pandemic and the huge rise in the cost of living, war in Europe and the Middle East, growing superpower rivalry, increasing migration, accelerating climate change and areas of UK public life struggling.


Those in my profession are discouraged from expressing our views on party politics – indeed I discovered recently that to do so would be in contravention of the 1983 Representation of the People Act, which bans religious leaders from exerting ‘undue spiritual influence’ on voters. The UK never developed a specific
Christian Democratic political movement perhaps because most Christians were already affiliated to existing political parties. It is apparent, though, that old allegiances are shifting and voting patterns no longer linked to faith.


It’s over 100 years since the C of E was first referred to as ‘the Conservative Party at Prayer;’ in contrast, a recent headline in The Daily Telegraph was ‘Election brings out Tories hostility to C of E.’ As recently as 1997 three times more Catholics voted Labour than Conservative. Despite the maxim that the Labour Party owes more to Methodism than to Marxism, in 2017, more Methodists voted Conservative than Labour; and the same was true of Baptist voters.


Here in our new Sussex Weald constituency, we have nine candidates: the bigger five parties plus the Heritage Party, the SDP, UKIP and an Independent. Historically, at least one in three people ignore the old maxim that if one doesn’t vote one doesn’t have the right to complain.


In the New Testament, St. Paul wrote to his young colleague Timothy encouraging him to support those in authority, ‘First of all then I urge you… that prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings should be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we might lead a quiet and peaceable life in
all dignity’ (1 Timothy 2:1-4).


It’s natural to feel our individual vote won’t make any difference, so why bother. We are privileged to live in democracy and putting our X on the ballot paper is important. Being an MP in today’s world is tough. Those who will be elected will need our support as they shoulder great burdens and make difficult decisions; we shall live in hope that they will make our lives quieter and more peaceful.


James Campbell

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