Monday, 1 October 2012

“Surprising truth about politicians”

I’ve met a number of politicians over many years from all parties and of all the ‘types’ of people you meet, (how unfair putting people into types!) I must admit to liking politicians the most.

They are energetic, enthusiastic, committed – and usually not driven by money or power for the sake of it.  They really want to make a difference.  I know we need to keep an eye on them, and sometimes the difference they want to make is very far from the difference I want them to make, but still – for an energising conversation over a cup of tea, choose a member of the House of Commons (or indeed ‘The Other Place’.

This visit to the Labour Party conference was all about meeting politicians and I have to admit my expectations of how fun they are was were fully met. I went with a party organised by JPIT and the Salvation Army and though we had some areas we were interested to explore, we were mostly  there to listen, encourage, and try and give a good impression of the Churches.

It was impressive how much the various people showed knowledge of the Churches, and how important they felt our conversations were.  Two things come to my mind at the end – one is to try and articulate a more positive story about politicians than we sometimes get, and secondly to resist the increasingly common desire to blame the poor for their poverty.  These politicians at least would find life much easier if there was a more sophisticated attitude to people’s need than, ‘they deserve all they get’.

A couple of pictures

David Lamy and Hilary Benn

Trying to make what is not doubt a very important Methodist point to
Stephen Timms (right) with colleagues from the Churches.

We saw between us:  David Lammy, Hilary Benn, Stephen Timms, Paul Goggins, Jack Straw, Stella Creasy, Jack Dromey, and after I had left Kate Green. 

All thanks and much praise and thanks to the Salvation Army and of course JPIT – and of course the MPs who found time from insanely busy schedules to talk representatives from the Churches.

Mark Wakelin

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