A CONSERVATIVE inspired by her dealings with the NHS, a Labour
candidate who worries about where the next George Lansbury is, and
a Pirate keen to debate Edward Snowden's revelations are among the
Christians fighting for a seat in Parliament this year.
Representing parties from across the spectrum, they all believe
that their party best reflects their Christian faith.
"Our faith teaches us that we should build a society where
people can fulfil their potential," Suzy Stride, the Labour
candidate for Harlow, a semi-marginal Conservative seat, says. "It
is ridiculously obvious that we live in a country where your
postcode and facts outside of your control can determine your
Brought up in one of the most deprived areas of the country, she
has worked for many years for a charity helping disadvantaged young
people in Tower Hamlets.
"I struggle to understand a lot of Tory MPs, because I believe
our first priority has got to be justice. . . Conservative MPs
voted 18 times to protect millionaires' bonuses, but voted to scrap
the Jobs Guarantee."
She feels "sad" that Christians are "so hands-off about
politics. . . Where are the present day George Lansburys and Keir
Hardies -Christians who joined the Labour Party to fight for social
justice and sort out workhouses?"
Caroline Ansell, the Conservative candidate for Eastbourne and
Willingdon, a marginal Liberal Democrat seat, was inspired to enter
politics after her son was diagnosed with a brain tumour.
"The only question we did not have to ask was: 'How much will it
cost, and how will we ever pay for it?'" she says. "We fell into
the arms of the NHS, so have this powering sense of gratitude to
Her faith marries with her choice of party, she says, because it
"relates back to that belief that every person is created in the
image of God, and is unique and has potential and promise and
something to bring to to the world. Conservatives are looking for
people to fulfil that potential."
Asked about the media's portrayal of the Government's programme,
she felt that the party had been "held hostage to some rather
negative presentation. . . Although we have weathered the storm . .
. there are still people here who need a new opportunity, who need
a second chance, who need that lift. So that has been my pledge: no
one to be left behind."
Dr Brian Mathew is standing for the Liberal Democrats in
Wiltshire North, a safe Conservative seat, after working for years
as an engineer in international development. Growing up with two
deaf sisters had a "profound effect" on him.
"I have always found, personally, the Conservatives too much in
favour of big business and not taking into account people; and the
Labour Party too controlling," he said. "The Liberal Democrats are
a broad church of what is fundamentally decent in the human
One of his priorities, were he to be elected, would be tackling
climate change, the effects of which he has seen as an aid worker:
"In terms of the great tradition of Christian stewardship, we need
to be taking this very, very seriously."
Jonathan Bartley is running for the Green Party in Streatham, a
semi-marginal Labour seat, where the Greens had two per cent of the
vote in 2010. He has "never been particularly tribal about my
politics", he says, but believes that the Green Party is a "natural
fit" for him. He cites its commitment to "active peacemaking" and
the Living Wage, and argues that "it is the only main party that is
consistently challenging austerity."
He questioned the claim made by some Christians that it was
necessary to join one of the bigger parties in order to make a
difference. "My experience working in and outside the House of
Commons is that quite often Christians are pretty ineffective. The
party whip is strong and the tribal spirit means that they often
end up voting for their party rather than standing up for what is
This message should encourage Mark Chapman, who is standing for
the Pirate Party in Vauxhall, a safe Labour seat. Started in Sweden
in 2006, "standing up for internet freedom and government
transparency", the party has two MEPs.
"There is an element to which the core principle of the party is
evidence-based policy which leads it to be quite scientific and
rationalist; so it might not seem the most obvious Christian fit,"
Mr Chapman said. "But for me the element is liberty and freedom. .
. Christ came to preach freedom to everyone."
Mr Chapman is concerned about civil liberties, and believes that
the debate that is needed is not happening: "Things revealed by
Edward Snowden and others about mass surveillance haven't even been
discussed effectively in this country."
A request to UKIP for the contact details of a Christian
candidate was unsuccessful.
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