When I heard that we would have a December General Election, I wondered about the other times that this country has had December elections. So I did a little research. The last time was 1923 and was an attempt to deal with the post first world war national debt. Previous to that was 1918, the so called Khaki election at the end of the first world war when the big issue was how we would treat the defeated Germans. And then there was 1910, when Asquith and Lloyd George had difficulty getting their reforming budget through the House of Lords. With the tax rises in this budget, they were intending to pay for the introduction of old age pensions. All were times of national emergency when feelings were running high. No doubt feelings will be running high as we prepare to go to the polls this December.
I was therefore intrigued to read these words of John Wesley, giving advice to Methodists about voting. He wrote this at a time when voting was public and open to corruption and when only 3% of the population were allowed to vote, but still his words give helpful advice to us nearly two hundred and fifty years later:
‘I met those of our society who had votes in the ensuing election, and advised them, 1. To vote, without fee or reward, for the person they judged most worthy: 2. To speak no evil of the person they voted against: And, 3. To take care their spirits were not sharpened against those that voted on the other side’ (John Wesley, October 1774)
Very wise words, although they are difficult to follow!
With every good wish from Mark Crowther-Alwyn