New Year Message

29 December 2014

new year

New Year Message broadcast on BBC Radio Lincolnshire Sunday 28 December 2014

It is inevitable that as a new year begins we are filled with a mixture of emotions.
We can never be certain how future weeks and months will turn out; we have no idea what lies round the corner.

One thing we can be sure of is that there will be a General Election in just five months.

It may seem that the campaigns have been underway for some time with an increasing number of leaflets popping through the letterbox, the laying out of policies from the various party leaders and the opening skirmishes on programmes such as BBC’s Question Time.

But as some might say ‘we ain’t seen nothing yet.’

The coming election could be very different from those in recent decades. At this stage it doesn’t look like a 2 or even 3 horse race. The increasing popularity of what were once seen as fringe parties threatens to make the polls very unpredictable.

I have no hesitation in saying that this will be the most significant election in 36 years, maybe even longer. Nor do I have any hesitation in saying that much of what I have seen and heard thus far I don’t like.

It has always been the case that austerity brings with it deepening division and deepening division brings with it alarming extremism. The so called ‘outsider’ has often become the easy target in such times. The supreme example being Europe in the early and mid-decades of the 20th century. Tragically we are again witnessing such phenomena today.

The growing inequality across British society threatens to push us back decades. Prejudice and discrimination are on the rise. Views are being expressed that I thought had been laid to rest in Britain. Such views have to be checked and overcome otherwise mistrust, suspicion and even open hostility will destabilise our communities.

The battleground in the coming election will almost certainly include the issue of immigration, which is typical of a nation in crisis. To focus resentment on those who speak a different language, have a different culture, whose clothes are different or who worship in a different way is little other than bigotry. It should have no place in a society that millions in the 20th century died to build. It certainly doesn’t have any place in the faith to which I belong.

My faith is in a God who loves all people whatever their colour, creed or country of origin.

My faith is about welcoming the stranger and lifting up the humble.

My faith calls me to help create a community that serves the common good.

My faith is about building bridges not deepening the chasm.

If, in the coming months, you are tempted to vote for a party whose manifesto is based on fear and division, let us together find an alternative message of hope that will create a Good Society for everyone.

If you are tempted not to vote, please do so; the future depends on it.

I want a society that has tolerance, equality, dignity, justice and compassion at its core, I hope you do too.