CANON JOHN DRAPER: We pray for the government every day

Canon John with Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage
Canon John with Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage

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AT the moment, I am ploughing my way through a very good political biography which my wife bought me for Christmas.

It is about Clement Attlee, whom many argue to be the country’s greatest peacetime Prime Minister.

Not everyone agrees with that, depending on which side of the political fence you sit.

The book is called Citizen Clem and is by John Bew.

I would recommend it to you as a good and classically-styled biography.

In a speech in 1957 to an audience of dons, students and the party faithful in Oxford, Attlee describes democracy as a ‘means of government by discussion.’

A week after our general election, it is worth stepping aside for a few minutes and thinking about government by discussion.

Any leadership can be achieved by either discussion or by dictatorship; this country has a genial form of democracy, where power is dispersed.

Our government is traditionally by cabinet agreement, although some leaders topple when they try to concentrate government into the hands of the few.

There have been some notable incidents of this.

Our new government will need to be made up of individuals who are used to taking decisions together after discussion and not by merely imposing will.

The church has always been keen to work alongside the government of the day with an empathy; sometimes this is easy to achieve, sometimes not.

We pray for the government every day in our morning and evening prayers.

We also pray specifically for our members of parliament.

It might seem that our government and MPs work at a distance from us; it is our Christian duty to help and support them in their difficult decisions.

I know that they value our prayers.

If we complain that they do not listen, is it also because we have not necessarily made our views known to them.

If we are worried how a government decision affects us, or will perhaps affect a vulnerable group of society, we should take the trouble to be in touch with our MP.

I am confident that if enough people with a concern do that, then many of the government’s decisions will be different or even withdrawn.

We know that it happens. So God bless our government and our MPs.

n ST MARY THE VIRGIN CHURCH, Rowner Lane, Gosport. Canon John Draper can be contacted on (023) 9258 1834 or e-mail rownerrector@btinternet.com. Or go to rownerparishchurch.org.