Quaker Questions to Bury Election Candidates

Quaker Questions to Bury Election Candidates

To all candidates standing for election in the constituency of Bury St Edmunds

Bury St Edmunds Quaker Meeting would like to offer you some questions. They arise from our beliefs and not from any particular party political allegiance.

Quakers have always opposed armed conflict. We also have long held concerns about discrimination which harms the vulnerable, the lifestyles which we choose, and the importance of a truthful manner of life, whatever its cost may be.

What follows is for consideration and possibly for challenge. We are not seeking a direct response although we hope that the reflection which you may undertake on some or all of these points will inform your campaigning and interaction with voters.

The growth of militarism in civil society

Points for consideration:

  • A recruitment age of 16. This is the youngest in Europe.
  • Armed Forces Day
  • Wear your Uniform to Work Day for members of the reserve forces
  • Military recruitment focused on schools and the ‘military skills and ethos’ programme
  • Displays of military hardware in public places, aimed at engaging children.

Do these:

  • Increase a public support for the military and thus willingness for increased spending in the area?
  • Make recruitment easier?
  • Sidestep critical analysis and opposition to unpopular wars? Make constructive criticism of the armed forces difficult?
  • Present a distorted view of military life and armed conflict to vulnerable young people?

Discrimination against disabled people.

Points for consideration:

  • A concept has taken hold among many people, that those who are disabled and chronically sick are ‘scroungers’ and ‘shirkers’.
  • There is a wide-spread misunderstanding of how disability or illness may appear. For
  • example, an individual may need to use a wheelchair on some occasions and not on others. It does not mean they are malingering. Others, who are partially sighted or suffering from anxiety or agoraphobia may be perceived as ‘not really disabled’.
  • Welfare reform has resulted in very large numbers of disabled or sick people being put through unjustifiable anxiety – and it in some instances, even to them taking their own lives. It has led to many being found fit for work when they are not well enough and consequently to their benefits being conditional on job-seeking activities which they cannot fulfil. Such people are then sanctioned for ‘failure’. There are not enough jobs available for people who may need support or re-training to enter the workplace.
  • What do you feel you might do to extend your knowledge and understanding of disabled issues?
  • How would you work for a benefit system which is fair and unbiased and which takes a humane attitude towards the many difficulties faced by sick and disabled people?
  • What would you do promote parity between mental and physical health?
  • What would you do to make the protections of the Equality Act a reality for disabled and sick people?

Our climate obligations

  • What do these ask of us at both the government and personal level?
  • What will your party do enable the UK to meet the urgent need for a comprehensive strategy to build a low carbon, sustainable economy?
  • What will you do to legislate for renewable and efficient energy that is affordable to all, for green jobs and other sustainable economic opportunities for local communities?
  • What will you do to ensure adequate investment in renewable forms of energy?
  • Will you call on the Government to publish such a strategy and commit to building public support for it?
  • Gandhi urged the developed world to “live more simply that others may simply live”. Climate change has made this more urgent than ever. What might you do to encourage a consumer society in questioning the pursuit of endless ‘growth’ and acquisition as personal and social goals?

And finally:

This is a time in which political discourse has gone far beyond spin. We have become sadly familiar with ‘post-truth’, ‘post-fact’ and ‘alternative facts’ – sorry euphemisms for lies and deceit.

Two simple challenges for you all with which to close:

  • We ask you to look into your consciences and decide on your choice of action in a situation where being truthful might not seem to be in your personal or party political interest.
  • How will you work to create a parliament characterised by integrity and concern for truth?

The four sets of questions and points for reflection which we have offered here are based on the Quaker Testimonies of peace, equality, simplicity and truth. These are not rules or credal definitions: they are truths discerned over three and a half centuries of individual and corporate experience. They have grown and changed over this time as each generation and culture works out the meaning for their own time. We hope they may inspire you to do the same.


Bury St Edmunds Quaker Meeting
St John’s Street
Bury St Edmunds
IP33 1SJ