I have been asked why I support the Tea Party. The answer is simple, I don’t. Despite the efforts of British politicians such as Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair, although reliably biddable – remember the Chagos Islands decision – the UK is not yet a state within the USA and I have no say in their elections.
Do I then sympathise with their plans? Frankly I doubt that they have been thought through or that they will be able to implement their ideas. The old saw holds true “It doesn’t matter who you vote for, the government always gets in.”
Why then should I blog favourably about them? After all they did support some weird candidates. True, but then we actually elected Lembit Opik and George Galloway and recently re-elected Diane Abbott, they are whacky enough to make us keep quiet about failed candidates in another country. Motes and planks.
I blog favourably about the Tea Party because I am a Reformed Christian. The greatest cultural impact of the Reformation was to give ordinary men and women personal responsibility for their actions. There is no hierarchy standing in for us, authorising our actions and absolving our sins. We all stand individually before God. This concept of personal responsibility had huge cultural and political impact; from the return of congregational singing to the Church to the fostering of democracy. In areas where the Reformation took real effect authority could no longer demand automatic respect, it had to be earned.
If we in Scotland have a democratic impulse we owe it to the Reformation, that religious, cultural and political revolution whose 450th anniversary the Church of Scotland has approached with all the enthusiasm of an elephant contemplating a bungee jump.
It’s not the the Tea Party I support so much as the concept of ordinary people deciding to assert their personal responsibility and in doing so rejecting rule by hierarchical elites. Earlier this week Christopher Hitchens acknowledge that Obama is seen as a ‘glacial elitist,’ and Hitchens is a big Obama fan. It’s not just policies it’s perceptions.
There are few elites more self-regarding than the political class on either side of the Atlantic. How many members of either front bench, other than when they were waiting for a seat, have held down any job outside politics? The common cv is to have left university, where they studied PPE, found a job as a political adviser, then been parachuted into a safe seat and entered Parliament. The Westminster Village is their natural habitat. With such a background can we be surprised if everything is seen from an insider party political perspective.
And no, I do not wish to see the rise of organsiations from left or right such as the SWP or BNP who vainly attempt to tap into populist discontent. They are merely authoritarian political cults who would suppress freedom and show even greater disdain for the people than the parties we have in power at present.
Any movement which calls professional politicians to heel and reminds them of whom they serve is worth at least a favourable glance from a Reformed Christian.