I don’t know about you but I often hear people in political circles talk about how to reconnect people with the political process and I find it frustrating. I do not question their intentions but always wonder why the focus is on why people are disengaged with politics - especially when the answer is blindingly obvious sat in yet another political conference on a Saturday afternoon listening to the same sort of people speak at me from a panel. But its more than that, I believe the real question we should be asking is the other way around - why does politics not connect with people?
This question really hit home to me recently when I heard a representative from the Trussell Trust speak about how difficult it is feeling vilified by politicians, simply for feeding people and then believing that story needs to be told. What has happened that has caused politics in some quarters to become so disconnected with the community it is there to serve, that its angry about hearing the truth? I am sure we will all have different answers to that question but what I am convinced of is that it is more important to move on from diagnosing the problem to getting stuck in to help redeem this broken relationship.
I am really looking forward to the community launch of Christians on the Left this Tuesday as I believe we can play an important part as Christians to help bridge this gap and share in building a new political consensus. It excites me to imagine a political system where politicians do not need to look outward when making decisions but just simply sideways as they are walking, talking and doing politics right alongside their neighbours. When there is no longer a divide between the civic and the governmental. A politics that recognises that all our interests are served only when tied up with the wellbeing of the whole community – a politics of the common good.
At my church this weekend I heard this truth speak out through the words of Jeremiah “Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” If our political system is not connected to the welfare of the “city”, how healthy really is that system? In a small way, I hope Tuesday’s summit is start of a fruitful conversation amongst Christians on how to broker a better relationship between the two.