Westminster 2010 shows its true blue colour

A month ago I wrote, not very positively, about the Westminster 2010 Declaration of Christian Conscience. I always had my misgivings about the lack of balance in this Declaration, which correspond to what I wrote a few days ago about issues of Christian principle at election time. To summarise, the Declaration seems to have largely ignored the real issues in this election, and the issues of poverty and social justice which ought to be of top priority for Christians.

So I was not really surprised to read, initially from Ruth Gledhill and also in their own latest news report, how the true political colour of the Westminster Declaration has now come to light. Now they write:

Westminster 2010 is not party political but concerned solely with conscience issues.

But their true leanings towards the Conservative party, if not already clear from their selection of issues to campaign on (and from the list of key signatories, including the husband of the controversial Conservative candidate Philippa Stroud), become clear from the list of preferred candidates which they have now issued:

Preferred candidates include 192 Conservatives, 35 Liberal Democrats, 19 Labour, 2 SNP and 2 Independents. Tories come out on top because in general their MPs have better past voting records on Christian conscience issues …

But let’s examine how they came to their conclusions in two constituencies.

In my own constituency of Chelmsford, the sitting Conservative MP Simon Burns is being strongly challenged by an excellent Lib Dem candidate Stephen Robinson, with the Labour candidate Pete Dixon likely to take a poor third place. Westminster 2010 is bold enough to “prefer” the Conservative. But on what basis? None of these three candidates have made the Westminster 2010 pledge, nor have any of them explicitly refused it. The Westminster 2010 preference seems to be based entirely on the sitting MP’s past voting record. But that is a quite unfair basis of judgment because the other candidates, who have not been MPs, have no known past record to be judged.

Then let’s look at another constituency, Sutton and Cheam. Here there is a Christian Peoples Alliance candidate who has signed the Westminster 2010 pledge. But Westminster 2010’s preferred candidate is a Conservative who has not signed it – although she is Philippa Stroud (with her name mis-spelled).

So, in the words of the Facebook commenter quoted by Ruth Gledhill,

it’s quite clear what you’re saying…”vote Tory.”

I’m glad I didn’t sign up to this Declaration. I urge my Christian readers to think twice before following the group’s recommendations, and to bear in mind what I wrote a few days ago:

So, how should Christians vote on Thursday? I don’t suggest that there is only one correct answer. But I do say that all Christians need to think about these issues of social justice as well as about those of life and personal morality, and need to base their vote on what the various candidates and parties are actually promising to do on these issues.

0 thoughts on “Westminster 2010 shows its true blue colour

  1. I cast my 3 votes – for Parliament, local borough and elected mayor – on the way to the station after leading our monthly early prayer hour. So the deed is done! The defending mayor is LD and a committed Christian. In Parliament we have a defending Labour MP in a true 3 way marginal. All eyes on Watford tonight! My recollection is that Chelmsford nearly went Liberal circa the late 70s early 80s – Stuart Mole I think was the candidate and leader of the local council.

    You clearly have strong leanings, Peter, but I fully agree with what seems to be your general drift in your various posts on this subject that ultimately each of us must take a prayerful measured view of how we weigh up our candidates/parties application and reflection of Christian principles at the time. Maybe that is one reason I am a floater – what I find more important in one election may be different in another. I recall an article in Christian Family magazine before the 1983 election when there was a serious contribution from Christian proponents of each of the main parties. No party has total or exclusive ownership or expression of us. At any time I would nearly go so far as to say I have seldom seen a party which is totally devoid of any principles which as a Christian I would relate to – though I struggle to find them inthe BNP. And while I would not belittle the concerns drawn out in Westminster 2010, it was not for me.

  2. To summarise, the Declaration seems to have largely ignored the real issues in this election, and the issues of poverty and social justice which ought to be of top priority for Christians.

    Well, I’d have actually said that the problem with the Declaration is the transformationalist nature of it, which is similiar to your own impulses if running in a different direction ..

    That said; The other fundamental problem with it is that it ignores the essential Christian liberty of being able to legitimately differ on solutions even whilst agree on problems.

    To my mind, it represents a somewhat wrong headed attempt to import in a Christian-Right-Lite approach from America (where it has already failed) to the UK. In the longer term, the most likely fruit of this sort of effort is the worst of both worlds; with Christians remaining a very marginal minority, and a greater antipathy directed at them by the rest of society. Oh, and it might also damage the currency of the Bash-Campers in the CofE.

  3. Truth Seeker, I had not seen the Romans 13 Declaration before. I appreciate the determination to proclaim the Word of God. But I am troubled by the fundamentalist and anti-Catholic tone.

    Yes, Colin, I was around when Stuart Mole was the candidate here. He never quite made it, but I think Stephen Robinson has a real chance today. Your Watford seat is certainly an interesting one. I am not trying to claim that only one party is the truly Christian one, but my own decision has been constant for many years.

    Chris, I agree with you.

  4. Chris, thanks for the link, and for the info about Charles Foster. I agree with most of his concerns, although I do think there is sometimes a case for Christians to stand up and be counted and not just omit “their explicitly Christian, credal prologue”. The real problem I see is when this group moved beyond “theological conservatism” to political support for the Conservatives.

  5. Pingback: Gentle Wisdom» Blog Archive » The Biblical Argument for Social Justice

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