Britain’s Election: Let This Ruin Be Under Your Hands

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announces the date for the UK general election at Downing Street on May 22 in London, England.
Peter Nicholls/Getty Images

Britain’s Election: Let This Ruin Be Under Your Hands

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak surprised the nation last week by quitting his job early. Or rather, he announced that a general election will be held on July 4. But his poll numbers are so bad, he seems very likely to lose.

His decision baffled many. With poll numbers this low, why not wait? If a week is a long time in politics, then six months is an eternity. Some positive news that boosts his party might turn up.

Perhaps the government knows of more bad news coming down the pipeline.

Already we know that the government is paying out billions for older scandals. In the 1970s and ’80s, thousands of British people were given blood that was infected with hiv. Between 1999 and 2015, more than 9,000 sub-postmasters were falsely prosecuted for theft based on a computer glitch. In both cases, many people are being given a lot of money in compensation. This means there is no money left for preelection giveaways this autumn.

Alternatively, perhaps Mr. Sunak sees little point in clinging to office for another six months as an unpopular leader. On Spectator tv, Andrew Neil said, “I can think of no good reason, other than that Rishi Sunak has had enough and wants out.”

If that’s true, he is not the only one.

Already Britain is set for a record turnover in ministers of Parliament. So far, 78 Conservative M.P.s have announced they will not be standing for reelection—more than the 75 who stood down before Labour swept to power in 1997. So many have quit that the party still has no candidate in about 150 of the around 600 constituencies. Among those leaving are some big names, including former Prime Minister Theresa May and government minister Michael Gove. So is 30-year-old Dehanna Davison, one of Parliament’s youngest M.P.s, who typically would just be beginning her career in government.

Some of these ministers are annoyed about this early election because it gives them less time to sort out their post-Parliament careers than they had hoped.

Even some who remain candidates have apparently given up the fight. A leaked letter to Conservative M.P.s complained that candidates were not “getting behind” the campaign, with some refusing to go out and knock on doors and others even going on holiday.

Conservatives are polling at 23 percent, compared to the left-wing Labour Party’s 44 percent. There is a clear sense in the country that something radical must change.

You also see this desperation in the Conservatives’ star policy: a reintroduction of National Service. Under their big new idea announced for the election, British 18-year-olds will have to choose between serving in the Army or Cyber Force for a year, or spending one weekend a month volunteering for the police, health service, fire brigade or loneliness charity.

This is probably one of the most radical policies Britain has seen in years. It shows how desperate the parties are getting for anything to get the nation out of the mess it is in.

As in any country, British politics are plagued by a lot of division. But almost everyone is united in despairing over the lack of leadership. Both Rishi Sunak and his Labour rival, Sir Keir Starmer, have negative approval ratings. More voters say that both are indecisive, untrustworthy and weak than those who describe them with the opposite positive characteristics.

As a nation, we no longer produce great leaders and push them to the front of politics. Our moral, family and societal decline has crippled our ability to train great men.

Isaiah 3 vividly describes the results of this failure. God says that He removes all the great men the nation depends on: “The mighty man, and the man of war, the judge, and the prophet, and the prudent, and the ancient, the captain of fifty, and the honourable man, and the counsellor, and the cunning artificer, and the eloquent orator” (verses 2-3).

Instead, “I will make boys their leaders, and toddlers their rulers” (verse 4; New Living Translation). In schools and homes, children reign over those who should be in authority. At the national level, leaders make childish decisions.

The result: “In those days a man will say to his brother, ‘Since you have a coat, you be our leader! Take charge of this heap of ruins!’ But he will reply, ‘No! I can’t help. I don’t have any extra food or clothes. Don’t put me in charge!” (verses 6-7; nlt).

Britain’s Conservatives fleeing government is just a glimpse of this prophecy being fulfilled. Britain needs radical change, but no party knows how to fix the mess. And the nation as a whole is too divided to embrace any radical solution.

In fact, the solution is so radical that only a tiny minority are willing to accept it.

God says He actively removes the competent leaders. The final verse of the previous chapter, Isaiah 2, tells us why: “Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?” (verse 22).

We need to stop looking to men and to our own ideas. As bad as conditions are, how many are willing to look to God and the Bible for answers? Too few. And so a loving God adds punishments—hastening the day in which all nations of the Earth will look to Him.

Britain’s leadership crisis is only going to get worse. But Isaiah 2 and 3 assure us that a loving God is carefully watching over the whole thing. This crisis is designed to teach that the solution to our problems does not come from great men—though they can certainly accomplish a lot. Ultimately, the Bible is the greatest instruction manual on leadership there is. The more that society discards and ignores it, and heedlessly tries to devise its own solutions to our mounting problems, the worse our leaders become.

The great leaders we desperately need are those who point people back to God.