NEARLY half the Anglicans in the UK are planning to vote
Conservative in next month's election, an analysis commissioned by
the Church Times suggests.
Overall, the Conservatives and Labour remain deadlocked on 34
per cent each. But 48 per cent of those who call themselves Church
of England, Anglican, or Episcopal favour the Conservatives. Just
27 per cent plan to vote Labour.
No other denomination is so right-wing, but when all Christian
denominations are taken into account, the Conservatives remain
ahead on 38 per cent; 33 per cent back Labour.
The figures are an aggregate by YouGov of its polling from the
whole of last month, which recorded the voting intentions of more
than 35,000 people, of which 5552 identified themselves as
Anglicans. Roman Catholics appear to be firmly the other way: 42
per cent of the 1574 Roman Catholics polled said they would vote
Labour, 31 per cent Conservative.
The Anglican figure for UKIP is marginally up on the national
average: 16 per cent compared with 14 per cent; and six per cent
say they will vote Lib-Dem versus seven per cent in the total
Smaller parties, including the Greens, the Scottish National
Party, and Plaid Cymru, get just three per cent of the Anglican
vote, compared with 11 per cent nationally.
The Bishop of Willesden, the Rt Revd Pete Broadbent, who was a
Labour councillor in the 1980s, said he was not surprised by the
findings. "Consistently, there has always been a majority of people
who are Church of England and Conservative," he said on Tuesday. "I
think it's about Establishment, and the fact that the Church is by
its nature conservative with a small 'c', and that tends to make
people a Conservative with a big 'C'."
The news was welcomed by the chairman of the Conservative
Christian Fellowship, Colin Bloom. He said: "Obviously these poll
findings are extremely encouraging, but the only poll that matters
is the one on 7 May. You could say that it demonstrates how wise
most Anglicans are."
The findings contradict accusations, made by Conservative
politicians when the House of Bishops' Pastoral Letter was
published in February, that the Church was overwhelmingly left-wing
Bishop Broadbent said that Conservative Central Office "decided
to go for the jugular" over the pastoral letter but ignored the
real issues it raised, which were not political.
Only two per cent of Anglicans surveyed by YouGov said that they
would not vote on 7 May, compared with six per cent nationally.
Bishop Broadbent found this encouraging, as did the C of E's
director of mission and public affairs, the Revd Dr Malcolm
"There is some sense of civic duty among Anglicans, [and they]
are slightly ahead of the field by intention to vote," he said on
Despite their hostile reception of the Bishops' Pastoral Letter
on its publication, the Conservatives were not monolithically
against the new politics espoused by the Bishops, Dr Brown
"It has had very warm private endorsement from a number of
senior Conservatives. One bishop told me: 'It has divided
Parliament between those who hate it and those who have read
He held that the vision held up in the pastoral letter could be
pursued through a conservative, Socialist, or liberal
Christians on the Left were less enthusiastic about the results
of the poll. Stephen Beer, the group's political communications
officer, said that, as the survey looked only at affiliation to
church rather than active membership, it could give a skewed
But the most important thing was that Christians were engaged
with politics. "The first message [from Christians on the Left] is
take the next step in politics - if you don't vote, then vote. If
you do vote, think about being a candidate, whatever party you're
from," he said.
He also suggested that voting intention did not mean blind
support. For example, many of those campaigning against government
policies that had forced people to rely on foodbanks would be
Bishop Broadbent said things were changing. "I think there is a
generational thing here. That longstanding conservatism may not
last for ever."
Question of the week: Is the C of E a natural ally of the