Wednesday, May 20, 2009

What a State!

For days the media has been full of embarrassing stories about MP's expenses. Honourable Members have been claiming for all kinds of things from gardening bills to extravagant furnishings. One Tory grandee apparently billed the taxpayer for the cost of cleaning his moat. Yesterday the Speaker announced his resignation due to criticism of his handling of the affair. This was an historic event. The last time a Speaker was ousted from office was 300 years ago. The Prime Minister announced that measures to reform the MP's expenses will be hastily implemented.

Of course, were it not for the harsh glare of the media and widespread public outrage, it is doubtful that the system would have been reformed so quickly. The sad thing about this whole business is that it has made people even more cynical and distrusting of those who are meant to be governing our country. The State is in a rather sorry state. Churchill famously said that democracy is the least worst system of government. But does democratic government in the UK have to be quite this bad? Far right parties like the BNP are looking to exploit this sorry mess in the forthcoming local and European elections.
No doubt many MP's have not been abusing the expenses system. There are still men and women of integrity in Parliament. But we are reminded that the best of men are men at best. Sadly, not even our legislators can be trusted to regulate themselves. This has happened as the State has become increasingly secular and intent on removing faith-based values from public life. But more than ever we could do with some men and women with strong Christian faith and gritty integrity in Parliament. This is no time for believers to withdraw from the political process. Think of what Wilberforce acheived, when at first the tide of opinion was against him.

The Bible teaches us to value the State, which has been appointed to maintain law and order in society (Romans 13:1-8). Christians should pray for those who wield power in the land (1 Timothy 2:1-4). But we should not expect too much from our fellow human beings, "Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save." (Psalm 146:3).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The USA;'s system of governance like the UK's is what is crumbling. The need for radical overhaul ( revolution?) is palpable.