Labour in power for 18 years. To some Christians, a nightmare, and for others an impossible dream. But in Wales it is the reality. The Welsh government – responsible for health, education, social care, housing, agriculture, economic development and more – has been led by Labour since 1999.
This means that in a UK general election in Wales it is often not clear who is the government and who is the opposition. In 2015, the Conservatives focused their campaign on Labour’s alleged failings running the NHS in Wales, David Cameron describing Offa’s Dyke as “the line between life and death”. In 2017, it is Labour which is focusing its campaign on what it believes to be its good record on health, social care and apprenticeships, claiming that a UK Conservative government could put this at risk because of its control of the overall UK budget.
This ambiguity makes campaigns in Wales both fascinating and frustrating, and often leaves voters confused. How will changed UK policies interact with and affect the actions of the Welsh government? To whom do you turn when in difficulty? Who is responsible for injustice?
Churches in Wales come together at election time to try to navigate the maze. Our website is being updated throughout the campaign with information about how to run local hustings, with background to the issues at stake and suggested questions to ask candidates. There are also resources for prayer, Bible study and thinking on your own and with others about the Christian response to what parties propose. We will also publish an analysis of the party manifestoes as they affect Wales from the perspective of Christian values.
This general election is, in Wales especially, a “Brexit election”. The new UK government will be responsible for negotiating on behalf of the whole UK, including Wales. A majority of voters in Wales voted to leave the EU, and immediately after the referendum Cytûn (Churches Together in Wales) established a working party to help Christians think through these complex issues, especially their implications for Wales.
The working party will continue throughout the negotiations to listen to Christian voices and concerns about the future, and articulate them to both governments. These matters include the rights of EU citizens, the continuing validity of EU law or treaties, the implications for rural Wales and how we relate to each other as individuals and as nations in the United Kingdom. You can read more about the work of the Cytûn churches.
Christians in Wales seek the prayers of our brothers and sisters across the UK as we cast our votes on 8 June, and as we face the uncertainties of the future whoever is elected. We will be praying for all candidates in the hurly-burly of the campaign and for our 40 new MPs after 9 June, and seeking to work with them in promoting the love, justice, truth and freedom in which we believe because of our faith in God.
Gethin Rhys is policy officer for Cytûn (Churches Together in Wales)