Politicians & Christians in Barnoldswick’s Public Square

On Saturday, a number of Salem folk were handing out Easter leaflets in Barnoldswick’s town square, though we were not alone. We were joined by local politicians who have suddenly sprung into life like daffodils and tree buds. The Lib Dems had a market stall and had managed to find some clinic earmarked for closure which they could seize upon to justify a Save our Clinic campaign- and just in time for the elections. The local Labour team had gone a step further and hired the local Civic Hall for a Meet the Candidates event, under the heading For the Many, Fancy a Brew? The Conservatives, like Victorian children, were neither seen nor heard, as their party implodes on account of their government’s incompetence in withdrawing from the European Union. 

It was a nice sunny day, with Christians and politicians evangelising the streets. One vinegary woman to whom I’d mistakenly offered a second leaflet complained that our literature wasn’t really about Easter at all. I asked her what she meant, but she continued walking, mumbling to herself. She had evidently given the first leaflet a cursory glance and judged its contents as insufficiently Easter-like. Perhaps the absence of bunnies and eggs disappointed her. Still, she was right to judge what was on offer. I decided to do the same with the political literature also being distributed.

The Lib Dems went for the ‘Huge Council Tax Rise’ approach, which is surprising for a left-leaning, social democrat party. They complain about the Labour Police and Crime Commissioner putting his tax up by 13.5%, and the Conservative County and Borough Councils raising tax by 3-4%. Fair enough- no-one wants to pay more than they have to. What they fail to mention, however, is that Barnoldswick Town Council, which they dominate, raised tax by 4.9% this year and a whopping 18.4% the year before. It’s funny how this didn’t seem relevant at the time of printing.

The Labour leaflets made many fine promises, but offered very few policies. For example, they want to make the two Barnoldswick wards “even better places to live, work, shop and play”. Lovely. They want to “restore the NHS to its place as envy of the world”. They want “a better, fairer Britain”. Marvellous. One candidate explains his secret for being a great councillor: “I believe in serving the public by listening to their concerns and dealing with them in an honest, open and pro-active way”. He should write a Best Seller. However, I would suggest a statement is generally meaningless unless someone might conceivably declare the opposite. For example, if a political candidate in your area claims “If elected, I will be tough on crime”, don’t vote for him. Is anyone likely to say “vote for me because I’m going to be soft on crime”? Unlikely. The first statement is therefore worthless. If he offers a number of additional police officers or prison places, then fair enough. But platitudes and clichés are lazy and unhelpful.

The Conservatives, as earlier pointed out, have no claims to examine, as they have not made any. It’s early days, so this might change, but at least the other parties had bothered.

So three political parties: one offering selective information to paint themselves in a better light. Another offering sound-bites and clichés, but little else. A third was conspicuous by its absence. The Christians in that public square were at least offering the whole counsel of God. 

Image by FelixMittermeier from Pixabay