As a preparation for this post, I asked on Twitter yesterday if anyone had endured “church-gate” canvassing from any of the political parties this weekend; the only answer I received (from a Unionist) was along the lines of a “They wouldn’t dare”. I knew what he was getting at.
That’s not to say politicking doesn’t take place inside, or round the vicinity of their version of “God’s House”, but any Unionist politician (or ambitious apparatchik) who knows what’s good for him will be making sure he is at least seen publicly breaking bread first before the whispered: “I know, DV*, I can rely on your Number 1 Thursday week”
I don’t know if there were any politicians from the other side of the fence waiting impatiently to mug unsuspecting worshippers yesterday as they left morning mass, but as these posts from politics.ie (here and here) show, it still seems a regular enough practise in the Republic. The second post there in particular touches on what is, in my opinion, the inherent tackiness of this practise and it’s this disrespect for the religious beliefs and practises of another group of believers which has caused ructions last week in Cardiff:
A ROW over whether politicians should canvass support outside Cardiff mosques escalated last night – as Plaid Cymru were accused of “justifying violence and intimidation”.
Last week Labour politicians clashed with men outside the Jalalia Mosque following Friday prayers.
Scuffles broke out as the group demanded the canvassers left. The same men are understood to be behind radical material distributed last year warning all Muslims not to take part in elections.
The incident led Labour Assembly candidate Mark Drakeford to insist that no street in Cardiff should become a “no-go zone” for political parties.
But Plaid Cymru last night accused Labour of “discriminating” against Muslims and said they contributed to the problem by canvassing near mosques during prayer time.
That charge of “discrimination” arises from the fact that Labour apparently don’t canvass outside churches or chapels in the same manner.
This concluding sentiment from Cardiff Plaid leader Neil McEvoy is an admirable one which you would have hoped all political parties could wholeheartedly subscribe to:
I am always available to meet with any group when invited, but don’t want to impose when people want to be alone with thoughts of God straight after prayer. I also do not canvass outside of schools.
Finally, a polite warning- anyone ever thinking of canvassing me outside my traditional place of weekend worship (aka “the pub”)… don’t; I guarantee you will get very short shrift indeed.
*DV as in “God Willing” not “David Vance”