Don’t keep calm. Don’t carry on.

As I write, it is unclear whether the Conservatives will have an overall majority. If not, I suspect they will try to rule as a minority government, although they may try some sort of deal. In the latter case, they could well be defeated in Parliament on at least some issues. In the former, they will still be vulnerable to rebellion from their own fractious backbenchers.

Either way, let us remember that politics is about far, far more than parties, elections and polling days. We need to resist the plans for a massive extra £12bn in welfare cuts, the privatisation of the National Health Service, the ongoing attacks on education and the welfare state, the fuelling of climate change, the sale of arms to tyrants and the plans to throw £100 bn into a new generation of weapons of mass destruction.

It is tempting to run away and hide. So I’m trying to remind myself that we can resist such policies in Parliament, through fresh ideas, in the media, on the streets, in our workplaces, in our communities and faith groups and places of education, through strikes, through protests, through nonviolent direct action and in our daily lives.

Politics is about people. It belongs to us, not to politicians. The election circus is nearly over, but real politics continues well beyond #GE2015.

Blogging through the night – follow Ekklesia’s rolling election blog

Tonight, I’ll be tweeting and blogging throughout the night as the general election results come in.

Rather than blogging on this site, I’ll be contributing to the rolling election blog run by Ekklesia, the Christian political thinktank. The blog is already rolling, with frequent brief insights and observations on election developments. I’m honoured to be blogging alongside an impressive team of progressive Christian contributors.

Ekklesia has been exploring the role of values and beliefs in the election, emphasising that an election is only one event in democracy, exploring innovative approaches to politics and encouraging people to “Vote for what you believe in”.

Although it’s not always possible to add comments on Ekklesia blogs, please feel free to respond to me by commenting on here, tweeting me at @SymonHill or emailing me at symonhill@gmail.com. If you’re on Twitter, please use the hashtag #Votebelief to refer to Ekklesia’s election coverage or rolling blog.

You can also make a donation to Ekklesia and help us to keep awake!

Predictions about the Green Party

I’m often cautious about making election forecasts, but when it comes to the Green Party, I’m unusually confident about my predictions.

Firstly, the Green Party of England and Wales (particularly in England) will achieve better results than it has ever done in a General Election. The Greens are likely to hold Brighton Pavilion. Even if they gain no other seats, they will come second in a fair few. Their percentage of the national vote will be higher than ever before. They are, to be honest, starting from a pretty low point. Given their rise in the last year or so, it would take a heavy setback for them not to achieve their best result.

Secondly, the Green Party will not do as well as the hype has suggested. From the way that some talk, you’d think the Greens were expecting to storm into Parliament with a whole gang of MPs. In reality, even the most optimistic Greens do not expect the party to win more than three seats at the very most.

Thirdly, much of the media will focus on the second point and not the first. Headlines saying “Greens fail to live up to the hype” and “Disappointment for Greens” are pretty likely, as the right-wing press overlooks the reality that the party has achieved its best ever result.

Given the media’s obsession with personalities, and the tendency to equate leaders with parties, some will then go on to write stories along the lines of “Bennet’s leadership questioned as Greens lick their wounds”. So let’s remember: read the figures, not the headlines.

15 UKIP candidates and two Tories accidentally pledge to oppose Trident

Fifteen UKIP candidates and two Conservatives have signed a statement that commits them to opposing the renewal of the Trident nuclear weapons system. Unfortunately, they appear to have done so by accident.

Indeed, those who produced the statement seem to have overlooked the meaning of what they have written. The Christian Party has produced a so-called “Declaration of British Values”, which they have asked candidates of all parties to sign.

The declaration includes the following sentence:

“I will not participate in nor facilitate abortion, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide, euthanasia, or any other act that involves intentionally destroying innocent human beings.”

Forty-one candidates have signed the declaration, including two sitting Conservative MPs –
David Amess and Bob Blackman – and fifteen UKIP candidates (most of the others are from the Christian Party or Christian People’s Alliance).

All warfare involves taking innocent life, although supporters of wars insist that this is unintentional. Nuclear weapons, however, cannot be used without killing millions of innocent people. It is illogical to argue that they are “only a deterrent” – they will not deter anyone if it is not possible that they may be used.

Of course, the signatories will insist that they were thinking of abortion. Some who refuse to facilitate abortion are happy to facilitate the creation of weapons that would kill thousands of unborn children – and millions of others.

UKIP’s Christian group accuses gay people of ‘recruiting’ children

One of the nastiest accusations against gay people is the claim that they “recruit” children with the intention of turning them gay. In Britain, most groups that oppose LGBT rights, even the fairly extreme ones, tend to avoid making this claim explicitly. However, it has now turned up on a leaflet distributed by the group called Christian Soldiers of UKIP.

Christian Soldiers of UKIP is a group set up by Christians who belong to the UK Independence Party (UKIP). The UKIP leadership has described the group as “authorised but not official”.

Nigel Farage and his colleagues insist that they do not share the group’s views on sexuality.  Nonetheless, they are prepared to work with them. They have certainly not disowned the “Christian Soldiers”.

I wrote on the Huffington Post a few days ago about UKIP’s links with right-wing Christian lobby groups such as Christian Concern. Earlier this week, Nigel Farage launched UKIP’s “Christian Manifesto”, which offers to defend Britain’s “Christian heritage” and the “rights” of Christians who want to discriminate against gay and bisexual people.

The latest comments from UKIP’s Christian Soldiers shows further evidence of the party’s willingness to tolerate homophobia.

The leaflet in question is an attack on sex education in schools, which it claims is seeking to “normalise” same-sex relationships. The leaflet’s writers declare, “The state is allowing the sexual grooming of our Primary School children for same-sex attraction”.

This leaflet was distributed during at least one hustings event in East Anglia (without the organisers’ permission). I would be interested to hear from anyone who has seen it, or any similar leaflets, elsewhere.

In their leaflet, UKIP’s Christian Soldiers state:

“What the LGBT is achieving, of course, is a recruitment drive. As such people cannot reproduce their own kind, they must recruit among the young and this is best done among children in schools, the younger the better.”

Presumably the Christian Soldiers of UKIP believe that heterosexuals can “reproduce their own kind” by giving birth only to children who turn out straight.

The leaflet includes the lyrics of songs and dances for young children that imply a celebration of a same-sex marriage or unclear gender identity. On the grounds that the children change “partners” during the activity (as they surely do in lots of activities), the leaflet adds the note, “Multiple partners made to seen normal”.

The Christian Soldiers of UKIP state:

“Ideally, we should work towards the removal of all ‘sex education’ from state schools.”

They then go on to link increased sex education with a rise in teenage pregnancies and abortions. No evidence whatsoever is cited to back this up.

Marginalised and minority groups have always been accused of harming children. Most famously, European Jews were for centuries accused of kidnapping and crucifying Christian children (the blood libel, as it’s commonly called). However, early Christians were also accused of drinking children’s blood. Recently, child abuse in the UK has attracted more attention when the perpetrators have been Asian and the victims white, with racists linking the horrific abuse of children not to the people who committed it but to whole ethnic or religious groups.

At the same time, recent years have given ample evidence of how child abuse is often overlooked when the perpetrators are powerful or respected. Child abuse should be tackled regardless of the perpetrator, not used as a means to attack social minorities.

Christian Soldiers of UKIP, in their leaflet, quote Jesus’ comments about not harming children. This is outrageous. They want to deny children the chance to learn about life, to consider different ethical views for themselves and to grow up to form healthy, loving, consensual relationships free from prejudice and narrow gender roles.

I could call on UKIP to disassociate themselves from the Christian Soldiers, but I’m not going to bother. UKIP’s tolerance of homophobia is already clear. Christians, however, need to do a better job of rejecting it.

Let’s remember that some of those who have been handed this vicious leaflet may not have read or heard many other comment from Christians on sexuality. If we don’t do a better job of speaking up, it may be the only Christian perspective on sexuality that they encounter.

Resisting Trident during the general election campaign

I’ve written a couple of articles lately about the role of Trident in the general election campaign.

One was for Waging Nonviolence, an international website about nonviolent activism, based in the US. It’s written with a non-British audience in mind. Given the nature of the site, it assumes that most readers will be anti-Trident. It is a discussion of strategy and tactics in resisting Trident.

The other was on the Huffington Post and was a more general reflection on the role of Trident in the election campaign, particularly as it affects the Labour Party.