Voting in the 2019 General Election

As we prepare to go to the polls in the General Election on 12 December, it is worth reflecting on Church teaching and the principles which should guide us in deciding how to use our vote without violating God’s law.  

Click here to read a guide prepared for American Catholics, which seems to be fairly comprehensive.  I’ve not studied everything on that [EWTN] site, but I have checked out some key topics and I think we will all find it useful, and a source for fruitful discussion.

Below, a video clip from the trial of St Thomas More,  saint and martyr, patron of lawyers and politicians, who has been an inspiration to many, including many who are not Catholics, because of his strong, conscientious insistence that God’s law must always be above any law created by man. 

Comment: 

If the voting guide given in the introduction above still leave you with unanswered questions or doubts,  feel free to ask for clarification on this thread. 

Here, at Catholic Truth, we are apolitical and we discuss politics only in the context of our Catholic duty to be decent members of society, contributing, where possible, to the common good.  Please, therefore engage in discussion in a spirit of respect, bearing in mind that the Church exhorts us to adhere to certain principles but does not dictate that we should support (or not) any particular political party. Our overall aim must be to take care not to offend God in the way we vote; not to support the transgression of His Moral Law.  To this end we pray…

St Thomas More, intercede for us, and for all the politicians participating in the forthcoming election; guide and inspire us in the weeks ahead… Our Lady, Help of Christians, pray for us.  

43 responses

  1. I think it is significant that the General Election is to be on 12 December, which is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, who is often portrayed as a patroness of the unborn at pro-life events.

    I found the EWTN voting guide really useful, especially the page on abortion. That was really helpful.

    Saying that, though, my vote will go to a pro-Brexit candidate.

    I wanted originally to vote for the Brexit Party candidate but I’m now a bit worried that this will lead to a split in the Leave vote and one of the other “remain” candidates will get in.

    If anyone else is focused on Brexit, I’d be very interested to hear your thoughts on this.

  2. MIchaela, I’m a fervent brexit supporter and, like you, I’ve worried about what party to vote for. I’ve decided to go with my heart and vote for the Brexit Party. What will be will be and surely the Lord is looking down on all this.

  3. I am also keen to get Brexit done but I’m wondering about whether to vote Conservative or Brexit Party to get that done. I will wait until I see the list of candidates but nobody who is for stopping Brexit will stand a chance of getting my vote.

  4. I’m voting Labour as I always do. I for one am heartbroken to read stories about disabled peopled having to pay the bedroom tax, the millions of children and pensioners living in poverty, millions on zero hours contracts, millions using food banks, huge cuts to legal aid which adversely affects the poor, and the government’s opposition to rent caps and voting against a Labour amendment to make private rented properties fit for human habitation (with 72 Tory MPs voting against). Also, I’m deeply worried to hear news from headteachers and teachers about budget cuts, with teachers having to buy food, clothes, shoes and equipment for children and support staff/ cleaners being laid off, and teachers having to take up the latter duties.

    • I will be voting Conservative. I support the Brexit Party but I can’t see them winning any seats. The best way to get Brexit done is a Conservative majority.

      • I can’t see the Brexit Party getting any seats, as UKIP obtained over 4 million votes in 2015, but that didn’t translate into seats. We live in unusual times, and I may be proved wrong, but I can’t see it. Brexit is one thing, but when it comes to the Tories, I cannot vote for them due to the policies which I described above. My conscience would not allow it. I am inclined to think that it will be a hung parliament again. I would be interested to see what turnout will be. The government should declare a public holiday.

    • Catholic Convert 1,

      I agree abut the terrible Tory policies, such as the bedroom tax etc. but I have to believe that when we get free of the EU life in the UK will improve so that such policies are no longer in place. I think the two child benefit rule is a disgrace as well, it is a form of population control, shockingly supported by the so-called Catholic Tories like Jacob Rees-Mogg and Ian Duncan Smith. I do wonder how your conscience would be at ease voting Labour with them pushing for abortion up to and including birth, killing babies even as they are born. The women Labour MPs are working hard to get that into law. As Pope John Paul II said, what use are other rights (housing, jobs etc) if we do not have the most basic right of all, the right to life. Labour is “pro-choice”, not pro-life.

      So, I will be holding my nose as I vote Conservative, just this once, in the hope of getting Brexit delivered.

      • Josephine,

        I agree with most of what you say. Just a point of clarification – there is no “two child benefit rule”. You are entitled to child benefit for every child you have – I receive it for 6 children!

        Tax credits, which means you can claim tax back, is limited to two children. This isn’t a benefit and never was. In terms of benefits, there’s no limit on the amount of children you can claim for.

      • Josephine,

        I agree with what you say about abortion, but do you think the Tories or Lib Dems etc would try to restrict abortion. I voted for Brexit and would do so again, but I’ve got to look at the bigger picture and try to end the horrendous policies of the Tories. Hence, I will be holding my nose and voting Labour.

      • And to add one more thing Josephine, I do not think that life would improve after Brexit under a Tory Government. Boris Johnson removed worker’s rights from the legislation. Every piece of worker’s rights legislation was opposed by the Tories, such as the minimum wage.

        • CC,

          If Boris Johnson fails to keep workers’ rights legislation as now enjoyed, or by improving them (as I believe is the promise – EU standards on everything are always the minimum – the UK will rise above those minimum standards after Brexit) the unions would have their workforces out on the streets before you could say “I should’ve voted Labour!” 😀

          I honestly fail to see how any Catholic can square voting Labour with a truly Catholic conscience, given that its female MPs are working hard to decriminalise abortion: voting them into power will mean, for sure, that babies are even more at risk of being murdered – not just within the womb but once born. Don’t be fooled by the euphemism “decriminalisation” – that’s a cover to extend the “woman’s right to choose” until AFTER her baby has been born. Infanticide, in other words, as is now available in the USA. We’re never too far behind them in most things, and this will be no different.
          http://jostevens.co.uk/decriminalising-abortion/

          No worker’s right is more important than the right to life of every child.

          For the record, I was brought up in the [best !] city on the west coast of Scotland where it was unthinkable to vote for any party EXCEPT Labour. Now, I wouldn’t vote for them if Nigel Farage & Boris Johnson, along with Papa Francis, came to my home to accompany me to the polling booth. Especially not then! 😀

          • Editor,

            A fantastically clear post from you!

            Of COURSE we must be attentive to the needs of the poor. That goes without saying. It’s our Catholic duty to do what we can to support those in need. However, the fundamental right to life overrides all over issues. Most parties are pro-death these days, but there seems to be a real bloodthirst for abortion in the Labour Party.

            • Of course, as a certain former SSPX Priest informed me, we have a right NOT to vote or spoil our ballots. If it’s wrong to vote Labour because of their abortion policy, then surely it’s wrong to vote Tory due to their policies that unjustly target the poor. Isn’t that one of the sins that cry out to Heaven for vengeance?

              • CC,

                That’s a false dichotomy. There is no comparison between being poor and being murdered.

                None of the political parties are perfect – I would say – in fact – that none of them are any good, but we do have to recognise that there are different ideas about how best to run the welfare state, how best to help the poor. It’s not black and white. The Church requires the State to provide a safety net for the poor, but none of the parties can guarantee that the system won’t be abused. So, there is something to be said for parties with policies to encourage people to get work always providing that safety net for those who are poor or the less well off in need of some financial help.

                Refusing to pay the labourer his just wages, is the sin crying out to Heaven for vengeance to which you refer, and I would hope that the unions are keeping an eye on employers up and down the land to make sure they don’t get away with such injustice.

          • Interesting take on the “empty promises” (like Satan?) Of politicians before elections and then compare them to what happens once they obtain power.
            Whilst I agree 100% that no Catholic could possibly countenance voting for any of the parties of death (Labour, Liberal, SNP or Green)
            there is a large segment of society, mainly the young, who are prepared to ignore their stance on abortion and still vote for them.

            This is obviously why [Nicola Sturgeon] is keen to grant the vote to 16 year olds, and why not? After all supposedly grown up legislators around the world are taking scientific advise from the New Joan of Ark a 16 year old child.

            If no one could vote for a pro abortion party, then how could anyone with half a brain vote for a party which wants to return us to the stone age by abolishing grown up energy and relying on bird mincers and reflective mirrors on our roofs to keep us warm and the lights on?

            Sadly there is not one party which calls the great global warming fraud for what it is. All are quite happy to see the aging population die of hypothermia due to exorbitant energy prices to pay for the useless renewable (unreliable) energy.

            Just last week 11000 so called experts asked for a “sustainable” world population to “prevent catrostopic global warming” So ALL our politicians are keen to kill the unborn and the old to “save the world”

            Am I mad or am I delusional?
            Don’t answer that!

            Ed: not mad or delusion, Patrick, but falling foul of our House Rules by some of your descriptions. Apart from the fact that overseas readers will not recognise Nicola Sturgeon by your description (which I’ve now amended) and it may be that your opinion of Greta Thunberg is correct, we do try to maintain some basic level of Christian charity on this blog, tempting as it is oftentimes to engage in a bit of name-calling. Also, we need to remember that there will be bloggers and readers who vote for particular parties and it is not right to – albeit inadvertently – offend them in the way we refer to the various party leaders. As I’m sure you know, we stick to the issues here, and avoid making personal remarks. So, I hope you don’t mind, but I’ve made some small adjustments to your post to keep you on the right side of the CT “law” 😀

  5. I found something very interesting in that EWTN article, under the heading of “A Brief Catechism for Catholic Voters.” Here is the author’s response to the question (#5), “If I may not vote for a pro-abortion candidate, then should it not also be true that I can’t vote for a pro-capital punishment candidate?”

    It is not correct to think of abortion and capital punishment as the very same kind of moral issue. On the one hand, direct abortion is an intrinsic evil, and cannot be justified for any purpose or in any circumstances. On the other hand, the Church has always taught that it is the right and responsibility of the legitimate temporal authority to defend and preserve the common good, and more specifically to defend citizens against the aggressor. This defense against the aggressor may resort to the death penalty if no other means of defense is sufficient. The point here is that the death penalty is understood as an act of self-defense on the part of civil society. In more recent times, in his encyclical Evangelium Vitae, Pope John Paul II has taught that the need for such self-defense to resort to the death penalty is “rare, if not virtually nonexistent.” Thus, while the Pope is saying that the burden of proving the need for the death penalty in specific cases should rest on the shoulders of the legitimate temporal authority, it remains true that the legitimate temporal authority alone has the authority to determine if and when a “rare” case arises that warrants the death penalty. Moreover, if such a rare case does arise and requires resorting to capital punishment, this societal act of self-defense would be a *morally good action* even if it does have the unintended and unavoidable evil effect of the death of the aggressor. Thus, unlike the case of abortion, it would be morally irresponsible to rule out all such “rare” possibilities a priori, just as it would be morally irresponsible to apply the death penalty indiscriminately.

    Good thing this answer wasn’t submitted to Pope Francis for review before publication….

    • RCA Victor,

      We don’t have capital punishment over here any more, so that wouldn’t be an issue at our election.

      Whether it should be, is another matter. I went to look for the murder stats just now and couldn’t believe it when I got the government site up and found “hate crime” top of the list! In fact, murders must be hidden in one of the other links because it’s all “crimes against businesses”, drug misuse and such like, no mention of knife assaults or murders.

      The penalty for murdering someone here is a few years in jail, half time for good behaviour. Yesterday in the news it was reported that a boy who cold-bloodedly murdered his ex-girlfriend because she broke up with him to concentrate on her school studies, got a mere 12 years. She was 17 so I guess he is around 18. It’s unbelievable. We used to hang murderers like him, now we send them off for a few years in jail where they seem to be able to get phones, drugs, TVs and visits from family and friends. It really is ridiculous. Then, when he gets out, I suppose his next girlfriend won’t be any the wiser due to the data protection laws. Everything seems set up to make life as easy as possible for those who break the law – unless it’s a stupid law like saying the wrong thing, annoying someone, offending someone – and then they throw the book at you!

      • Josephine,

        Thank you for that information. I’m beginning to think that the UK is possibly in the most advanced state of degeneracy and anarchy on the entire planet – with the possible exception of Sweden.

        • RCA Victor,

          I’m very interested in this subject and it’s something I’ve often meant to ask you – we see the USA courts handing out sentences of 160 years and similar; does that really happen, or do these criminals get out on appeal.

          I ask because I once read that such sentences mean what they say and that once convicted in the USA (of a crime like murder) it’s almost impossible to get released on appeal. Is that true?

          • Editor,

            I can’t claim to know much, or anything at all, about prison sentences here, other than they tend to be more severe in parts of the country that are “conservative,” and more lax in parts of the country that are “liberal” (for example, the Eastern seaboard cities and the Left Coast).

            But one of the reasons a second Trump term is so necessary is that he is appointing so many good judges. I just saw an article today that he as already appointed 25% of Circuit Court judges. Not to mention two Supreme Court judges.

  6. At the risk of being cheeky and getting my knuckles rapped by our wonderful underpaid editor, I offer the following on the upcoming election.
    Many years ago (during Harold Wilson’s time in power) I watched a pompous BBC type asking a lovely old country gent who he was going to vote for.
    The wise man replied ‘I am not going to vote’
    The rather shocked reporter asked him why not.
    The wise man replied ‘Look son – no matter who I vote for the government gets in’

  7. I’m also having a dilemma regarding what party to vote for. I feel a duty to vote but what a bunch! My heart says vote for the Brexit party and perhaps I will. If we keep thinking that it will split the vote, they will never succeed. On the whole, our politicians are a reflection of society, amoral and gutless. As far as I can glean, there are not many of them that show any integrity. How sad. St. Thomas More, pray for us!!

    • Helen,

      The polls are putting the Conservatives ahead right now so if they look likely to get a majority, I’d vote for them to get Brexit over the line. I would prefer the “clean break” Brexit Party but if it means getting out quicker, even if it will take a few more years to properly break free, then I think Conservative is the way to go.

  8. I’ve just been on the SNP website to see if I could find some answers to questions I never hear mentioned in any discussions. I was unable to find a section on independence listed, and it was only when I put “independence” into the site search engine that I got up a page, but even then, none of my questions are mentioned. In case anyone here has the answers, my questions are:

    In an independent Scotland –

    1) would there be a physical border between England and Scotland? I ask that because the worry over Northern Ireland being a way of getting EU goods into the UK illegally, would apply if Scotland were independent but re-joined the EU. How would we stop EU goods trickling into England? Also how would we stop illegal immigration into England without a physical border?

    2) would we have Scottish passports?

    3) would we keep the Queen, as was the case in the 2014 referendum?

    4) even if we voted for independence in indyref2, would we have to wait for the Westminster Parliament to agree a treaty before we could leave (as is the case with the EU & UK right now) or would we leave “deal or no deal”?

    5) in 2014, we were to keep the pound sterling. Will that still be the case if we come out after indyref2? Or will Scotland join the Euro, or have its own currency?

    • Scotsgirl,

      I’d like those answers myself. As far as I know, we will be keeping the Queen although I think there’s now talk of our own currency, but I’m not sure.

      When I’ve asked SNP friends about a border, they scoff as if that would be ridiculous but how else would we be able to monitor trade and people going to and from England and Wales?

      I’ve no idea about the rest but I will be interested if anyone else has the answers.

  9. Scotsgirl,

    I will try to answer your questions as best I can.

    1. There is already a physical border between Scotland and England and has been for hundreds of years. If you mean a manned border, then we only have to look to Norway and Sweden to see how a border operates between an EU country (Sweden) and a non EU country (Norway). Most borders throughout the world have many, sometimes hundreds, of crossings, and while the main crossings are manned the smaller ones are not. The Norway/Sweden border is like this. People pass over the border every day and even at the manned crossings most pass without having to show passports or go through customs. The only time people are stopped is if there is suspicion of smuggling. I suspect that illegal immigrants is something that wouldn’t be a great problem as they usually always arrive in the UK via England which is only 20 miles from mainland Europe. They are not going to risk sailing up the North Sea to reach Scotland.

    2. Like all independent countries Scotland would have it’s own passports. It is interesting to note that the Irish Passport Office is working overtime processing applications from people in Northern Ireland who have now decided they want an Irish passport rather than a British one.

    3. The SNP is not, and never has been a republican party. They have always said they would maintain the monarchy if Scotland became independent. After all, it was a Scots monarch who took over the English throne and not the other way round. Also, Scotland is the oldest monarchy in Europe so why change that?

    4. There would have to be an agreement, but given Westminster’s track record on agreements, who knows how long that would take.

    5. SNP plans have always been to retain the pound. In the run up to the last independence referendum Westminster spat the dummy out the pram and proclaimed that they wouldn’t let Scotland keep the pound. This is despite the fact that Australia, New Zealand, Tonga, Jamaica and almost every country in the Commonwealth kept it after independence. Even Ireland used it, and it can hardly be said that it was an amicable divorce when it left the union. It would be nothing short of hypocrisy, and also childish, to say that those countries could use it but not Scotland. Also, England doesn’t own the pound, It was Scotland’s currency before the union so nobody has the right to say we can’t use it.

    • Vianney,

      Thank you for your answers.

      They do make me wonder though what kind of independence we would have, keeping the Queen and pound, no manned border – I take your point about Scotland having been a monarchy but the Queen is not Scots she is the English queen and again, about Scotland having the pound first etc but that was centuries ago and if we are to start over as an independent nation, I would expect us to have our own currency and manned borders – plus I wouldn’t want to be taking rules from a foreign country like Brussels. More than anything else, it is the re-joining of the EU that puts me off voting SNP. It just doesn’t make sense to break with England and then re-join the EU.

      I’ve felt all along that we can’t really be independent given our history and geography whch I don’t think can be compared to other small nations overseas. Having said that, it’s puzzling that the SNP (and other opposition parties) make such a fuss about the Irish border when, as you say, unmanned borders are shown to have worked fine in Norway and Sweden. When that example is given in the Irish context, the SNP and others say it doesn’t apply. So, that is confusing. If it doesn’t apply in Ireland, why would it apply in Scotland?

      Thanks again for your answers, but I’m afraid they just raise more questions.

      • Scotsgirl,

        Don’t be so dismissive – they could make ME Queen (Patricia The First) and we could set up a very good business creating Scottish passports…

        It will be interesting to see how the voting goes up here in Scotland – I’m a Brexiteer, as the bloggers here know well – and it is a fact that more Scots voted to leave the EU than voted for the SNP in the last election, so we may get a surprise on December 12 if that translates into votes for Brexit-supporting parties.

        However, the pro-remain brigade have worked hard to wear us all down so who knows… Whatever, my offer to be Queen Patricia The First of Scotland is there, if any SNP voters wish to consider it, seriously

        • Well, I’ve always called you Your Majesty (or Madge if I’m being naughty!), but if they make it official, then the power will make your head swell.

      • I don’t mean to be pedantic, but she is NOT the English Queen. She is the Monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. She is half Scottish and through the House of Hanover and the Electress Sophia is descended from the House of Stuart. Sophia’s mother was Elizabeth Stuart, James VI and I’s daughter. I would never dream to referring to James VI and I and his descendants as the Scottish Kings. They were Kings of England. Elizabeth II is Scottish and English.

      • Scotsgirl,

        The Queen is not just the English Queen. Apart from Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland, she is also Queen of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Island, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize, Antigua and Barbuda, and Saint Kitts and Nevis. None of those countries is any less independent because they share a monarch. Also, the Queen doesn’t have a drop of English blood in her veins.

        Before the introduction of the Euro, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Monaco all used the Franc and even now, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Iceland all use the same currency, and again, none of them was any less independent because they use the same currency.

        I fail to see why our history and geography would mean we couldn’t be independent. Historically, we were independent far longer than we have been in the union and there is no reason why we can’t be compared to countries of a similar size.

        • Vianney,

          I’m enjoying the discussion about independence, but although I take all your points on board, I have to admit that I find it hard to understand what would be the difference. If we share the monarch and the currency and don’t need a manned border, and are a member of the EU, what form would our independence take? We can’t say “control of our money and our borders” (we already have our own court system/laws) so what precisely would be the difference in an independent Scotland from now?

    • But could Scotland use the English Pound? The Scottish currency in an independent Scotland could not be set by the Bank of England. The Australians and all those other places did have the pound, but they controlled the currency and minted it themselves. Scotland would have to do the same.

      Independence always puzzled me. The SNP doesn’t want England to control Scotland, but they would be happy for the EU to do so. The Scots have controlled England just as much with the House of Stuart plus nine Scottish Prime Ministers.

  10. Scotsgirl, I’m with you on the “re-join the EU” comment. When I listened to Boris Johnston’s dismissive attitude towards Scotland I was sorely tempted to vote for independence but, the re-joining bit has put me clear off the idea. Why on earth would one want to be free from “the English” only to hand one’s sovereignty over to Brussels? Madness. When did the SNP become pro Europe, does anyone know?

    • Olaf,

      I don’t believe Boris “dismissed” Scotland – the SNP MPs repeatedly say the same things, chiefly “Scotland voted to remain!” And it does get to be predictable. When I watch PMQs and the [now retired, widely acknowledged to be biased] Speaker (good riddance) calls Ian Blackford, I groan and tell my TV to please NOT say the same-old same-old, but it/he does.

      Personally, I firmly believe that if indyref2 comes about and is won by the LEAVE (the UK) camp it will be no time at all until a campaign is launched to re-join the UK. Not that anyone ever listens to me…

      • I’m a brexiteer and I dislike all that the SNP stand for. Also, I do not wish another referendum here in Scotland. However, when in Scotland recently, Boris said he was determined not to allow another referendum COME WHAT MAY and irrespective of the wishes (if shown in an electoral result) of the Scottish people. That is being dismissive. Also, he cannot get the SNP name right and calls them “the Scottish nationalists”. Also, remember he didn’t know whether or not the Isle of Man was in the EU!! It seems to me that all he cares about is the Westminster bubble.

        Having said all that, I would still vote Tory to keep the others out!

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