Bring on the Bland
There is a general sense of boredom with the election campaign. Partly this is because the introduction of fixed-term parliaments (a bad idea in my estimation) inevitably means the campaigning season starts earlier and lasts longer than it otherwise would. But more than that, it is hard to get excited about any of the political parties that are standing for election.
It is easy to be cynical about politics and politicians, to lament the stage managed road show of the past few weeks and the samey-ness of the political class. It is easy to mock the ‘Ed Stone’, and David Cameron’s ridiculous commitment to introducing a meaningless law to govern fiscal policy, and Nick Clegg’s ‘nicer than the Tories, more prudent than Labour’ mono-bore, and Nicola Sturgeon’s likely holding of significant power at Westminster even though she isn’t even going to be in Westminster, and the Greens and UKIP just for being Green and UKIP.
The thing is, we get the leaders we deserve.
If politics and politicians are bland and banal it is only because that is what we as a society have demanded. Can we really expect politics to be ‘meaningful’ when grown men choose to spend their leisure time (itself a highly suspect term) playing Call of Duty and when shopping represents the major national pastime, and when what happens on Strictly or in Downton bothers us more than the plight of Libya (bombed into anarchy with a Lib-Lab-Con blessing) or any number of truly significant world events?
We have allowed ourselves to be pacified, infantilised. We have become so fearful of ideology that we have run out of ideas. And we have got the politics we deserve.
It is on days like this that I reach for one of my all time favourite quotes, from Michael Bywater’s Big Babies:
It strikes you as out of kilter that there’s a notice at London Paddington station which says ‘Please be ready to move away with your luggage when you reach the top of the escalator’ because it implies that otherwise you wouldn’t be ready to move away with your luggage but, instead, would stand there like a moron with other morons piling up against you so that eventually something has to give and you all tumble back down the escalator in a melee of morons and get sucked into the mechanism and ground to hamburger and they’d hose the blood down and scrub the gobbets of stupid flesh out of the machinery and start it up again and the same thing would happen again… or, if not, why the need for the notice?
Or, in other words, if our politics is moronic, it’s probably because we are.
So I’m going to try not to moan about politics and politicians. I’m going to put my ‘X’ in a box – some box – and do so as an act of faith in Jesus. But more than that, I’m going to pray. I’m going to pray for my nation, because my nation needs to know Christ. If we’re going to grow up, if we’re going to live with purpose and passion, it will be because we get caught up in the globe-encompassing kingdom of God – into something far grander, more beautiful and transforming than any human politics.
We’re gathering to pray at my church tonight. I guess your church is likely to be doing the same. I’ve got confidence in prayer, because I’m confident in the king I pray to; and I’ll pray with a lot more enthusiasm than I will vote, because there is nothing bland about him.