Open Letter to Lincolnshire MPs

26 September 2019

To all MPs in Lincolnshire, North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire
I am writing to you as a matter of urgency and out of deep concern for our county and indeed nation. You may not be aware of the fact that my role is to represent the 145 Methodist churches of Lincolnshire, North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire. So whilst I may not reside in your constituency I do act on behalf of many Methodist congregations in the area you represent in Parliament.

A while ago we, the Lincolnshire Methodist District, became increasingly aware of our responsibility to challenge and change attitudes and language in all our forms of communication. We entered into a partnership with Lincolnshire Police and Lincolnshire County Council and have embarked on what we have termed Positive Prevention. This scheme has ensured that the consequences of even unintentionally offensive language have become more known to us. As a result, we have seen a tempering of language in social media posts. We cannot eradicate it completely, I would be naïve to think otherwise, but positive steps have been taken and we are now keen to listen to one another with greater respect than may have once been the case.

As a senior Church Leader I would urge you and your colleagues to find ways of tempering the vocabulary and behaviour in both parliamentary debate and public arenas including media interviews and social media.

We live in difficult and challenging times, indeed they are unprecedented for our island nations. Your role is far from easy, there are many pressures upon you and it is an unenvious position in which you put yourself forward to serve your constituency and our nation. I want you to know that you are constantly in my thoughts and prayers. However, I am deeply dismayed at certain events of recent days.

I sat through the Prime Minister’s statement on Wednesday 25th September, and on numerous occasions was appalled at both what was said and indeed at the behaviour of many members. Earlier in the day I had turned on my radio for the 1 o’clock news and caught highlights of the exchange between the Attorney General and Labour MP Barry Sherman; at first I honestly thought it was an overreaction in some poorly scripted and performed afternoon play. I was almost incredulous when I discovered that it was an actual clip from proceedings in the House.
To dismiss threats on the lives of MPs as ‘humbug’ was a new low. I won’t even begin to express my feelings about what some have said about the Supreme Court’s judgment.

With authority comes responsibility. I fear that some of us in our nation today who carry some form of authority are overlooking this fact for their personal self-interest and gratification. We should expect better of ourselves and indeed those whom we serve are right to expect better of us.

History teaches us that divisive discourse in the political arena and appeals to populism never end well; they lead to an erosion of moral boundaries and conventions across the nation. Let me quote the European Commissioner for Security, Sir Julian King, ‘Crass and dangerous. If you think extreme language doesn’t fuel political violence across Europe, including the UK, then you’re not paying attention.’

Should you wish to meet with me to discuss my concerns then I am happy to do so.

For the sake of transparency and accountability this letter will be circulated to my colleagues across the region I serve and published on our social media outlets.

I remain respectfully yours,

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