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Those Without A Voice Should Be Heard Says Moderator

THE Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has said the Church's role in politics is to speak up for truth and ensure the voiceless are heard.

Speaking at a special hustings event in Edinburgh last night, organised as part part of the Church’s Church and Society Council’s Speak Out: People’s Politics campaign, the Rt Rev Dr Angus Morrison told key political figures who were invited to participate: “The church should not and will not take sides in party politics. We have members in the church who are active in every political party and will vote for every political party here.

“We are called to take sides in the way Jesus took sides… we speak truth to power and allow those with no voice to be heard loudly and clearly, not as victims, but as friends,” he said.

Hosted by the Church of Scotland, the debate took place in the Church’s Assembly Hall on the Mound.

Chaired by Dr Morrison, politicians John Swinney (SNP), Iain Gray (Labour), Patrick Harvie (Greens), Baroness Goldie (Conservative) and Willie Rennie (Liberal Democrat) were quizzed on some of the big questions facing voters, including education, poverty, refugees, the economy, taxation and health.

The event was part of the Church’s Church and Society Council’s Speak Out: People’s Politics campaign, which in 2015 heard from over 10,000 people who expressed their vision for Scotland's future. Last night’s event offered an invitation to the public to ask the main political parties how they would transform Scotland.

Opening the evening, Dr Morrison said: “It is fitting that we meet in the Assembly Hall with its notable association for both church and the Scottish Parliament.”

Introducing a group of individual speakers, he explained they would cover three themes which emerged during last year’s consulation:

  • The need to invest in young people
  • The need to trade in an economy that is more equal
  • The need to enable local communities to flourish.

A group of people spoke movingly about social exclusion and the stigma of poor communities and background, the pressures of working long hours to simply maintain family life and the importance of allowing personal ability to develop.

Questions were posed to politicans from an audience of around 300 people in a Question Time-style debate.

Closing the evening, Dr Morrison thanked each of the speakers who had spoken so movingly about their personal experience and also thanked the politicians who had taken part.

Speaking after the meeting, he added: "'I greatly enjoyed the People's Politics event this evening and felt it a real privilege to chair. The speakers, both those from local communities and as politicians, spoke powerfully and the discussion was conducted in an excellent spirit.

"Many people afterwards spoke positively to me about this new way of conducting hustings meetings and felt it was a model for others to follow. People were given a voice and the church demonstrated in this way  its desire for a new kind of political debate. It was an immensely worthwhile evening."



Paul Sales - Thursday, April 7th, 2016

“Great to see the Church providing opportunities for people to put questions to the politicians out with the tightly controlled BBC and ITV formats.”

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