St. Boris's Day

Apparently, for members of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, last Friday was St. Boris's Day. So I suppose it is appropriate that Friday was the day that Boris Johnson took over as Mayor of London for the next 4 years… Just the person you want representing your city when the Olympics come to town! But that is the democratic choice of the people of London… Mind you, with a choice between "Red Ken" and "Bumbling Boris" who would you choose?
Certainly, one of the things that worked in Boris’s favour is the groundswell of opinion against Gordon Brown’s Labour Government… A combination of the 10p tax-band botch-up, the credit crunch and the colossal hike in petrol prices has conspired to make Gordon Brown the most unpopular Prime Minister since Neville Chamberlain… Some of that unpopularity may well be the product of media hype, but at least the British population have the opportunity to express their feelings at the ballot box.
Think of the people of Zimbabwe… A full month ago people there walked for miles and queued through the night to make their vote count in the parliamentary and presidential elections. Since that time Robert Mugabe has done all within his power to overturn the results and hold on to power one way or another… This week the Zimbabwean electoral commission have suggested that while Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change got more votes than any other Presidential candidate, he did not get more than 50% of the votes cast and therefore will have to take part in a run-off against Mugabe… But given that re-run will be against a background of a full month of violent retribution against those who had dared to vote against Mugabe first time round, you can understand his reluctance to do so.
Democratic government is NOT a divine right… And what is right is not always what is popular… Just look at the election of Boris Johnston… Or more seriously, the election of Hitler in Germany in 1933… But Hitler’s nemesis, Winston Churchill was right when he said in 1947, "democracy is the worst form of government, except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time."
Last week it was announced that the local elections here in Northern Ireland will be delayed for 2 years, until 2011, allowing the new council areas to be settled beforehand… And fvery few people were disappointed at the delay. That is because we take our democratic rights for granted. Indeed at the last general election only 59% of adults could be bothered voting at all.
Yet as Christians have a responsibility to use all our gifts with gratitude and grace… not purely for ourselves but for the benefit of others…
So as we pray for the people of Zimbabwe and Tibet and others denied the privilege of electing their own leaders, let us remember to pray for our own political representatives… and our use of the gift of democracy…

This was first broadcast, in a shortened form, as the Review of the Week, on Downtown Radio's Dawn Reflections, Sunday 4th May, 2008.


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