My introduction to the world of politics was probably not too dissimilar to that of a cross-bench experience of Prime Minister’s Questions – the raucous grilling of David Cameron, or whoever holds the keys to Number 10, that takes place each Wednesday that the House of Commons sits.
I remember spending evening after evening sitting around my kitchen table, rotating my head from left to right, trying to engage in the reoccurring debates between my die-hard Conservative dad and my left-of-centre mum, both of whom occupied the seats at either end of our long-suffering table.
I called myself a Tory because it was more amusing to wind up my mother than my father, but I knew I hadn’t done my homework.
So, in a bid to be a person of political integrity, I decided to take up a Government and Politics A-level, and discovered I really enjoyed it.
However, I enjoyed it not because it helped me to see the wood for the trees and side in good faith with my father, but more for the esteem that I received from my friends at school for having a marginally better comprehension of politics than they did.
Since an A-level wasn’t enough to inform me about which way to vote, my cynical schoolgirl self-concluded, along with 35 per cent of the apathetic electorate of 2010 that politics was mere rhetoric.
Don’t make the same mistake as I did; having confidence in which way to vote is no measure of political competence.
I want to challenge those who feel disillusioned by politics and may be tempted to use their temperament to excuse themselves from engaging in politics.
Firstly, we should expect to experience a certain lack of confidence in those who campaign to achieve such a powerful mandate. Why wouldn’t you? Who could ever be truly fit for the job?
Since all political parties have imperfect reputations mired in policy failures and scandal, a competition whereby parties must persuade patrons to recognise their competence to run a country of people, is never going to be beyond doubt. Politics is indeed messy.
So if you find yourself siding with the best of a bad bunch, in one way or another, you are in fact doing well at exercising your citizenship. If you are persuaded to support one particular party, however reluctantly and with whatever compromise, then I do them the honour of demonstrating that this spring in the 2015 general election by showing up to vote for them.
Danish theologian, Soren Kierkegaard, would agree that experiencing a degree of feeling offence by party’s past failures is in fact an antidote – it demonstrates that you have properly understood what is at stake, rather than deferring to a herd mentality.
That said, while identifying as a Tory in order to wind up your left-of-centre mum is definitely not a position of political integrity, some level of deferring to the trend of your heritage is no bad thing.
Here, Kierkegaard would most likely disagree as he refers to ‘the crowd’ itself as ‘untruth’.
That said, I think it’s healthy to temper this ideal of thinking independently from your family, as if swaying in the opposite direction is a measure of political competency, however inorganic.
We must all humbly admit that we all come from different backgrounds, with which beliefs about what society should look like come in tow. I think it’s good to recognise that our own being and beliefs that have been shaped by our heritage, and allow our heritage to persuade us of their political allegiances.
Since politics is so wrapped up in political history, gaining a flavour of what used to so distinctly divide right from left, which are perhaps now crude and simplistic caricatures of the parties, might not be a bad idea.
If all this isn’t enough, then perhaps you should remember this: as a Christian, you are free to vote whichever way you wish. Jesus said in Mark 12:17: “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.” He recognised the state as a governing body apart from his ministry.
We are hereby free, while resting in God’s grace here on earth, to support whoever we may discern, with varying degrees of disillusion and persuasion, to best execute the governmental mandate.
The deadline for registering to vote is fast-approaching. Visit https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote before Monday, 20 April to have the opportunity to have your say on who forms the next government. For more details on the election and the various parties standing, visit our election site election2015.eauk.org.