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A guide for Christian Aid supporters on the UK General Election

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As Christians, we have a shared responsibility to steward God’s creation and help create a world in which all God’s people can flourish. This election is an opportunity for us to do just that.

The election has been called for 8 June 2017. In the weeks beforehand parliamentary candidates will be out on doorsteps sharing their party’s policies and seeking your vote.

This is also the time when they get to hear what issues matter to you - such as the role you want the UK to play in ending global poverty.


 

What has this election got to do with poverty?

We live in an interconnected world where our decisions and actions here in the UK affect millions worldwide. The UK has a proud record looking outwards, and in working with others to tackle poverty. 

Whichever party wins the election, the new government must put the UK at the heart of global efforts to address the causes of poverty and enable all our sisters and brothers near and far to live life in all its fullness.

MPs from Northern Ireland can play an important role in holding the government to account and in speaking out for those living in poverty. They can ask questions, write to ministers, take part in debates and vote on issues related to international development.

This short guide offers advice for influencing and questioning your candidates on the issues that matter most to the world’s poorest.

 

What questions should I ask my candidates?


Questions are best if they are personal to you, but we have some suggestions below.


Climate change

Climate change has been caused largely by developed countries. Its impacts are being felt the world over and in the UK, but mostly by the poorest and most vulnerable communities in developing countries. If you are elected as our MP, would you support clean energy generation efforts locally and work to persuade the UK Government to produce an ambitious plan that meets the requirements of the Climate Change Act?

 
UK Aid

I am proud of the UK Government’s aid budget, and believe UK aid is critically important, especially when around 20 million people in South Sudan, Yemen and elsewhere are currently facing starvation, according to the UN. Do you support our aid budget? And how do you think we can best spend the money to tackle both the symptoms of poverty like starvation, but also the root causes like climate change?

 
Displaced people

Around the world over 65 million people have been forced from their homes, mainly because of conflict. Around two-thirds of them are on the move within their own country, and receive very little support from the international community. Most of those who leave their country tend to move to neighbouring countries which frequently lack the resources to cope. Many countries are cracking down on the rights of people on the move. What more do you think the UK could be doing to help these people?


Tax dodging

Developing countries lose around $200 billion every year due to tax avoidance and evasion by multinational companies. Do you agree that the UK Government should take a lead on tax transparency to help tackle this problem, for example by requiring companies to publish the taxes they pay in each country where they operate? And following the Panama Papers, do you agree that the next UK government should ensure its Overseas Territories are as transparent as the rest of the UK within the lifetime of the next Parliament?

 

How can I get involved?

There are many ways to get involved in this election, including 

  • Attending or arranging a hustings meeting

  • Speaking to candidates on your doorstep

  • Writing to your candidates

We’ve included information on these below:

 
How do I attend or arrange a hustings?

Hustings usually occur in specific ‘seats’ or constituencies when an organisation such as a church invites local candidates to a public meeting. An audience of voters listens to the debate, and puts questions to the candidates.

Hustings are a great opportunity for candidates of all parties to hear your views.

International development and global poverty rarely rate highly among issues that affect voters’ decisions at elections.  Nevertheless hustings offer us the chance to put these issues on candidates’ radars and demonstrate  that many of their constituents really do care about these issues. 

Find out if a hustings is happening in your area by looking at:

  1. Local churches’ websites and social media feeds

  2. Your local candidates’ websites

  3. The Churches Together Britain and Ireland (CTBI) website

Perhaps invite some friends too! The more people who come along to hustings the better.

If you have searched for an event and can’t find anything local to you, you may want to consider setting up your own hustings event. These take a considerable amount of time to organise, but can be hugely rewarding. 

CTBI produced a really useful guide to setting up a hustings meeting for the 2015 General Election which is still relevant to this election.

If you would like any further help with your hustings, please contact our local Campaigns Coordinator by emailing David Thomas or calling (028) 9064 8133.

Once you are at your hustings, it would be great to ask a question about poverty and development. Check with the organisers whether you need to submit a question in advance or whether you can just turn up and ask your question there and then.

Questions are best if they are personal to you. See the section above: ‘what questions should I ask my candidates’ for advice and suggestions. 

Should I write to my candidates?

If you can’t find a hustings in your area, you could write or email your candidates with your chosen question(s).

What should I say on the doorstep?

If candidates, and their volunteers  knock on your door, please take this opportunity to ask them questions about tackling global poverty and inequality., See our suggested questions above for help with this.

Tell us how you get on!

If you attend a hustings or get a response to the questions above from your candidates, we would love to hear from you!  Please let us know the response you get.  It helps us to build a picture of the views held by candidates who might soon be MPs.

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