No Prime Minister

Most of what I learned about politics came from Jim Hacker and Sir Humphrey Appleby, and not least from the Principal Private Secretary of their office in the House of Commons, Bernard Woolley. That role was played so well and so pedantically by Derek Fowlds, and yet we were all cast into it, for in him we find the point of tension of trying to make some sense of it all.

We’re at one of those pressing moments this week with our federal election, though for many the choices have never been more underwhelming. The system is now presidential. We’re picking Her Majesty’s loyal prime minister far more than any truly grassroots representative from our respective electorates.

David Robertson said on his latest Quantum podcast that the choice for the Lodge is between “Tweedledee and Tweedledum”. So, what do we do when there seems to be no Prime Minister for us to support?

We’re incessantly told “it won’t be easy under Albanese”. That line has entered the neural pathway for mantras of the twelve-year-old at our place. And, indeed, all thinking Christians should consider that, quite apart from economics, this chiefly applies to the shredding of our social fabric through family dilution, gender confusion, school indoctrination, pro-choice, and anti-Christian policies, all of which will proceed with party room frenzy.

But whither Morrison? Despite his evangelical Christian profession, his policies are so weak and disappointing that he would hardly qualify as an opposition leader. Most recently, he has endorsed the current state abortion laws that compete for the title of worst in the world.

My view, if you can bear another one, is that the present Australian election is not worth overthinking. We have an absence of leadership. Maybe it is time to find the third way if you haven’t before. See if there is some other person or party in your electorate – someone beside whose name your conscience can write a “1” with a little more confidence.

My own dentist, with drill in hand, told me that this is what he would be doing for the first time ever. He knew that a major party would still get his preference, but at least he could signal something by this method.

He didn’t need to persuade me with any modern tools of medieval torment. I carried my freshly polished tooth along with this dilemma downtown to pre-poll. It turned out that amongst the usual teams’ spruikers stood a young fellow who said all the right things. His group topped the Australian Christian Lobby’s questionnaire on what ought to matter most to most Christians.

By voting first for him, I was essentially saying “no” to the tv’s great debaters, whom I still ranked from worse to worst. If this sentiment and pattern is a distinct feature of this election, which many punters believe it could be, we will have achieved something by raising our voices in this not too small and not too insignificant way.

None of us sits comfortably with the unknown ahead. Who can imagine what the politicians will really get up to in the next term?

In the pilot episode of “Yes, Minister”, Bernard proclaims the central question on which every principle and every gag in the subsequent 36 instalments right through into “Yes, Prime Minister” turned.

He insists: “But surely the citizens of a democracy have a right to know.”

Sir Humphrey replies: “No. They have a right to be ignorant. Knowledge only means complicity in guilt; ignorance has a certain dignity.”

Thankfully, we who follow the Almighty God referenced in our Constitution, not as an aside but as central to our identity and existence, have a substitution for ignorance about politicians and their agendas. It is trust in the Lord’s character, in His promises, and in His providence – all displayed Bible-wide and also Church-wide and world-wide in the lives of His people.

Make no mistake. While we should exercise all due prayerful care and diligence in this election, our Father’s will is being done. I have written down and put on our fridge door at home:

“Real history is, at every point, the progress of the Gospel and the triumph of Christ’s kingdom.”

There’s a “yes” policy you can completely and safely rely on.

–  Andrew M Clarke