Thoughts and reflections on the General Election

Thoughts and reflections on the June 2017 General Election from Fr Peter Packer, Benedictine monk and Priest in Charge at St John, Chrysostom in Peckham:

I think all people of good will have been depressed for the last year. I know I have. It's been a struggle to fight despair and to find hope.  This is because the forces of darkness, self-interest and capital are very strong. They warp the very minds even of those who know what is happening. 

Luckily this election coincided with Eastertide which - whether people believe the story as literal truth, as we Christians do, or not - is a potent foundational human story of the victory of hope over despair, of love over hate, and of the common good over vested or political self-interest. 

The thing I admire most about Corbyn is his refusal to engage in personal attacks and to offer a positive campaign not based on vilification and hate. That more than anything marks him as a politician of a different order, for all his many weaknesses and short-comings, and deserving of the support of all who care about decency, kindness and honesty. 

The fact is that we as a country are living beyond our means - like every Western nation and we are getting older. Whether spending more alone and taxing more to pay for that is the best answer, or the only one, needs debate. But the disparity between the rich and the poor has now reached such enormous and shameful proportions that adjustments must be made. Radical solutions must be found and tried. 

Have Labour have explored all sides of the argument and all possible allies ideas fully? There is still a little time to do this. But in proposing different solutions to the challenges we face as a country, they have done immeasurable service to the debate. They have also energised a whole swathe of younger people and voters to engage and act, exposed the fallacy that it is 'the Sun wot won it', and inserted a counter- argument into public discourse. 

More than anything this means HOPE. 

Some might argue that they should have done better. This is absurd. Coming from where they and the Tories were a month ago they did spectacularly. Brilliantly. Now they must build on this and on a coalition of good will and collaboration - not retreat back into the same exclusive arrogance of former times or ape the viciousness of the Tory opposition. 

This may mean some compromises - which McDonnell-Corbyn are perhaps because of their age and history not best suited for - but a progressive and transformational platform is wholly possible. And rallying new voters and different voters as they have done is a truly wonderful start. I was becoming exhausted and enfeebled by the tragedy of events to a country I love ( but not unconditionally) but that is why the engagement of the younger portion of the electorate is so significant. 

As the endless pundits now appearing to ameliorate the shameful Tory situation with their middle-aged pundit's spin show, it will not be easy to unravel the tentacles of capital's quintessential will to power. Because what that requires and gets from it's supporters is a consequent false consciousness that masquerades as 'common sense', prudence or political necessity. It is not easy to escape from the accepted and institutionalised mores of unfairness, injustice and inequality which our national cultural language has thoroughly entrenched. From the fantasy of the 'trickle down effect' to blame-shifting with cruel stories of 'scroungers and lay-abouts' - these lies have been drilled into the codes of accepted 'truths'

As someone wrote, the young know no better than to choose Corbyn. EXACTLY. They do indeed think and believe that a fairer more just and open society is possible. They are not imprisoned by post-war and cold war mythologies and accepted certainties. They want to try for the moon - and are not content with a drip feed of fading stars. 

Let us empower them in every way we can - from our armchairs, wheelchairs and death-beds if necessary.  Give them our money and our love to fight for a better world and, where we can and with as much energy as we may have  teach, preach, dialogue and encourage. 

I believe Christ died to assert the essential goodness of every human being and of the very fabric of the universe itself. He died a death of shame and rejection without a sword in his hand, the rich and powerful behind him, between two thieves - but with forgiveness and love in His heart. 

That belief in people's goodness and in the fact that there is hope even in despair and rejection should give us courage now. 

We must now all dare to hope that a new collaboration of good will for the rejected, ignored, left-behind, sick, disabled, young, CAN be made. And struggle to make that hope overcome fear and selfishness. 

Every best wish,


Dr. P. A. Packer