David Cameron

The polls were wrong. In the end the system wins.

David Cameron just manages a return to Number 10, but it is going to feel like an uncomfortable victory. There is too much movement beneath the surface for his party to feel that they will be navigating untroubled waters, even in the immediate future.  Current figures, compiled using the d’Hondt method for vote counting (as used by the EU for electing its MEP’s) would indicate that out of a total of 650 seats, 410 would have been held by Labour and all the Others who did not vote Conservative. These Others are still out there. Their voices need to be heard and their political will respected because it is they, and not the Labour party as a sole opposition feature, who will bring a much needed sense of equilibrium to British politics in the coming parliament.

It is conceivable that some of those who voted for the more centrist parties were looking for a steadying of the ship’s deck rather than wanting to rock the boat still further. They, and others, were looking beyond the recent noisy but ultimately insubstantial campaign rhetoric, focusing as it did on a few easily contained issues. They were thinking about the future of the planet, about mental health and what this burgeoning problem says about our society. They were concerned about the way our police force is managed and led, and about criminal justice. These issues were barely touched upon in the election campaign, but once we return to business as usual, they will make themselves felt.

So this hard fought and narrowly won election obliges the members of the new government to take nothing for granted and, where necessary, to put their own ‘careers’ (as David Cameron inadvertently let slip only a few days ago) at least on hold, for the good of the 64% who did not vote for them. Will the re-elected government want to address the problem of a manifestly unjust electoral system, and other equally pressing concerns for the sake of those who did not vote for it? That is the greater question which will be asked of the government’s conscience by the still small voice of righteousness.

The Church also has much to learn from this inequitable situation. It has its own groundswell of voices which are either ignored or marginalised because the Church, like our own political system, indulges those who can effectively manage and work within the status quo. The longer it defers change with regard to the ignored voices and excluded minorities who remain inconveniently in its midst, the more likely it is to founder on the Rock from which it was hewn.