Bishop Stephen: Voting Matters!

Posted: 05 June 2017

Stephen Cottrell, the Bishop of Chelmsford, says: "Please vote."

When I say things people agree with, they tell me how good it is that the Church is taking a stand. When I say things they disagree with, I am told the church shouldn't meddle in politics.

Well, everyone and anyone is telling you what you should or shouldn’t think at the moment. Its election time. And it is very easy to

get weary or cynical about all the electioneering. Therefore, I hope you will be relieved to hear that I am not proposing to sound forth on any great issues of the day.

But I do want to say this: vote. Don’t be cynical. Don’t be weary. Make your voice count. Even if you find yourself in a constituency where you think the result is a foregone conclusion, it is still important to go out and vote. Good government also requires good opposition, and the public life of a nation is strengthened when we can see clearly that everyone has expressed their view in the ballot box.

Last year, the day after the Brexit vote, I was in a cafe queueing up to order a cup of coffee and in front of me in the queue were five young people. They were all talking about the vote to leave Europe and its historic consequences.

They were all, as it happened, deeply concerned about this. One said to the others: did you vote? And one by one they all confessed they hadn't.

This seems to me to be a tragedy. I don't mean the vote would have been different if everyone had turned out – we simply can't know how those who didn’t vote would have voted. But that's the point. If you don't vote you leave others to decide for you. Then our democracy is weakened and our ability to hold our leaders to account diminished.

So please vote. It is a right and a privilege that we should not take for granted. And encourage others to vote, especially young people who do increasingly seem to feel alienated from politics. And do it with pride. It is our chance to have our say in our future. As someone once said: democracy is the absolute worst system of government that has ever been devised. Except, that is, for all the others. 

+ Stephen Chelmsford

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