Column: ​Play your part by using the power you possess as voters

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‘For a lot of us, we may never find a candidate or party with whom we agree 100 per cent on every issue, but we have to vote anyway.’ They’re not my words but those of music superstar Taylor Swift who, coincidentally, will be on tour in our country during the general election campaign, writes Rt Rev Libby Lane, Bishop of Derby.

She’ll be performing to hundreds of thousands of people, many of them young, potential first time voters.

While music and celebration will be the focus of her tour, I can’t help but hope she might encourage her fans to use their vote. Like me, she too is passionate about voter registration.

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As I sit in the House of Lords and will have a role in parliamentary business whoever is elected on July 4, along with other Peers, I am restrained from casting a vote in a general election. But, I’m passionate about the privilege of democracy.

The Rt Rev Libby Lane, Bishop of Derby.The Rt Rev Libby Lane, Bishop of Derby.
The Rt Rev Libby Lane, Bishop of Derby.

Not casting a vote myself makes me all the more determined to ensure everyone else who can, does. Use the influence you have to shape our country: register to vote by June 18 and make your voice heard on July 4.

Every general election is a critical moment in the life of our nation, one which shapes our future.

We face serious challenges on issues of war and peace, poverty and injustice, even the very future of our planet. We should be asking important questions of ourselves and our local candidates about what kind of country we want to build, whichever party we support.

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That’s why I have played a leading role, alongside other Bishops in the Church of England, in creating and launching the ‘Pray your Part’ campaign - to encourage prayer and participation in the run-up to the general election, both as voters and as citizens.

​”No election will offer, let alone deliver, our entire personal wish list of things we would like but, if we vote, we might get some of it”, says the Rt Rev Libby Lane, Bishop of Derby.​”No election will offer, let alone deliver, our entire personal wish list of things we would like but, if we vote, we might get some of it”, says the Rt Rev Libby Lane, Bishop of Derby.
​”No election will offer, let alone deliver, our entire personal wish list of things we would like but, if we vote, we might get some of it”, says the Rt Rev Libby Lane, Bishop of Derby.

Each day for 21 days, from June 14 to July 4, a different theme is explored, with a short Bible reading, reflection and prayer for an aspect of our common life.

We might feel let down by our political system and by individual politicians appearing to act in bad faith. We hold high expectations of one another and particularly of those in public life so it is right that we should expect integrity, honesty and humility from those who exercise such power over our lives.

Criticism may be justified when they fall short but I believe that, across the political spectrum, most of our elected officials are doing their very best in difficult circumstances.

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Those who offer themselves for public office deserve our support and our prayer that they might be guided towards making the best decisions possible.

And, just as we rightly expect integrity from those engaged in public life, let’s pray, too, that we may hold ourselves to the same high standards.

We can be part of a better culture in this general election, and in the exercise of politics generally, by the ways we speak of and to candidates and one another through this election and beyond.

Across the Diocese of Derby, our churches are campaigning to ‘Pray your Part’ by co-ordinating local activity. We are posting regularly on our website and social media platforms with ideas and initiatives to bring out the vote.

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The Electoral Commission estimates that around 26 million eligible voters will miss out on voting at this year’s general election because they haven’t properly registered, don’t have photo ID, or won’t turn out to

vote on the day.

So, what can you do to help? You can become a voter registration champion at your church. Encourage democratic participation in your area by giving reminders on registration, ID, and voting dates in your pew sheets or e-news, sharing in service notices, running a voter registration event after your Sunday service or at your community groups.

Or, you can help organise a hustings event at your church hall or community centre. Election hustings or meetings support the democratic process, enable public debate, and help people know who their local candidates are and what they stand for.

Finally, you can pray for your candidates during the election period, for respect and honesty during political debate, and that whoever forms the next government takes our concerns seriously.

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Of course, we will all think differently about the manifestos of different political parties, and agree with the opinions and approaches of some candidates and disagree with others.

No election will offer, let alone deliver, our entire personal wish list of things that we would like but, if we vote, we might get some of it.