Today I want to talk about something different!
If you have been following the news – and there's no hiding from it – you would be excused for thinking that everyone in Westminster has completely taken leave of their senses – that we have swapped our day jobs for the full-time incitement of chaos, gossip and outrage.
Now, I confess that the latest political assassinations at the top of the Conservative Party are fascinating to watch.
But actually the reality is that most MPs are horrified by the current instability. Some will worry that the current turmoil will cost them their seats, and most – I hope – will see how much damage the current chaos is doing to the welfare of their constituents.
While all this madness is unfurling, most of us are quietly trying to get on with serving our constituents and representing them in Parliament.
To illustrate this, in the past week, I have:
Spoken in Parliament on behalf of my constituents on sewage being discharged into local lakes and rivers; on access to healthcare in rural areas; and on protection for British famers in future trade deals. I am also a member of the committee for the Levelling Up Bill, which involves scrutinising the legislation line-by-line and raising concerns on housing need, planning and regional inequality.
I have visited two local schools and held a question and answer session with pupils – which, just so you know, is my favourite bit of the job.
I have secured a meeting with the rail minister to talk about accessibility at local stations for people with limited mobility, and written to the Housing Secretary about the housing crisis in Cumbria.
My casework team and I are continuing to support constituents on a whole range of issues including helping people trapped in hospital because they can't get a care package, people separated from family because of immigration bureaucracy, and people facing eviction and homelessness.
I also managed to raise more than £4,000 for the Great North Ambulance Service by running the London Marathon!
Now this list of activities is not to blow my own trumpet – well OK, maybe a little bit – but mostly it's to give you an idea of the many things that MPs and their teams are doing below the radar, even amid the current crisis.
The uncertainty and fragility at the top of government is creating more people in need: families and businesses unable to plan their finances, unable to bear the costs of their mortgages and energy bills, unable to afford the weekly shop, fearful as to whether their pension fund will be enough for them to retire on...
Equally seriously, these current events mean that any remaining respect for our institutions and political leaders is draining away at an alarming rate. The handling of the upheaval of the last few years – from Brexit to the pandemic to partygate – has hemorrhaged respect and confidence from politicians and politics.
Extremists of all kinds have sought to harness this loss of respect for politicians and the loss of confidence in politics, and exploit it for their own agendas – the rise of populism and nationalism is built on the idea that shadowy 'experts' and 'elites' essentially run the country for their own gain.
But as I said last week, those in leadership are supposed to serve those they lead, rather than lord it over them.
In the UK, the Nolan Principles set out that everyone in leadership in public life should sign up to: selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership.
These are designed to remind those in leadership that with power comes responsibility, and to seek to mitigate the tendency for power to corrupt. The Nolan Principles are very much of the secular realm, but – perhaps subconsciously – they do seem to draw on a Christian understanding of what leadership should look like...
As Christians in leadership, we can look directly at Jesus' teachings as a model for our own service. In Matthew 23:12, Jesus warns us that "those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted".
And in verse 23 he criticizes the teachers of the law who outwardly do what is expected of them, but neglect "the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness". Some might say that the government in recent weeks has been doing neither!
But these passages give us a pattern for our prayers. And as we long for wise and stable government, let's remember the ongoing support and commitment that most local MPs continue to devote to their local communities – including some of those you least agree with.
And just a reminder that you can read more about how Christians can be engaging with and praying for politics, by pre-ordering my new book, out next month, entitled A Mucky Business: Why Christians Should Get Involved in Politics.