THE unexpected outright victory
of the Conservative party in the General Election shows that "the
British people voted for competence", the chief executive of the
Conservative Christian Fellowship (CCF) said on Friday.
The result - a majority for the
Conservative party, which secured 331 seats to Labour's 232 -
contradicted earlier polls which had suggested a
But Colin Bloom of the CCF, who
has predicted for weeks that the Conservatives would get at least
326 seats, was unsurprised. Pollsters had "tried to turn politics
from an art into a science", he suggested.
While "absolutely delighted"
with the result, he was also "conscious that very many good people
from various parties have found themselves now out of public
service. My thoughts are with them."
He paid particular tribute to
the Leader of the Labour Party in Scotland, Jim Murphy, who was
ousted by his SNP opponent as part of a huge landslide for the
nationalists, who took 56 out of the country's 59 seats.
Mr Bloom said that Mr Murphy
had done "a magnificent job for the No campaign to hold our union
together". He also wanted to put on the record his appreciation for
the Liberal Democrats, who, by joining his party in coalition, had
"put national interest ahead of short-term political
On Friday morning, Nick Clegg
resigned as leader of the Liberal Democrats. The results had been
"immeasurably more crushing and unkind than I could ever have
feared". The party now has just eight MPs, down from 58 in
Mr Bloom described Mr Clegg as
a "genuine British statesman, and somebody who I hope remains in
high public office in some capacity".
The defeat of many senior
members of Mr Clegg's party, including Vince Cable, Danny
Alexander, and Simon Hughes, means that there are limited
candidates from which to choose a new leader. A favourite is Tim
Farron, who won Westmorland & Lonsdale with a comfortable
A prominent Christian, he has
described his conversion at the age 18 as "the most massive choice
I have made. It didn't seem like it at the time - it was a
wonderful experience; I didn't realise how fundamental and
life-changing it was" (Back
Page Interview, 20 May, 2011).
It was a crushing night for
Labour, which lost heavyweight members including the shadow
chancellor, Ed Balls, and the election campaign chief Douglas
Alexander. On Friday, the Labour leader Ed Miliband resigned,
taking "absolute and total responsibility for our defeat"
before adding that "issue of our unequal country will not go away .
. . The fight goes on and, whoever is our new leader, I know Labour
will keep making the case for a country that works for working
people once again."
Andy Flannagan, director of
Christians on the Left, said on Friday that he was "obviously
disappointed" by the result, but "very positive about the future,
and the role we can play in reshaping the Labour party".
The result had shown, he
suggested, "the difference in scale between the air war and the
ground war". The Labour party had undertaken five million
conversations on the phone or doorstep and he laid the blame at the
door of Conservative newspapers.
"The Express, Mail, Sun, the
Evening Standard are becoming increasingly less journalistic and
more one-sided, and that is a pity in terms of the future of the
nation's conversation. We are sliding towards a more American style
of political discourse, which I find worrying."
He had been encouraged, however
by both a surge in membership of Christians on the Left and the
"unprecedented" number who were standing as candidates, including
24 seeking election for the first time. Victories included that of
Catherine Smith, who unseated the Conservatives in Lancaster &
"It's hugely encouraging that a
lot of younger candidates are standing for the very first time and
learning the ropes," Mr Flannagan said. "A lot of younger
Christians are behind them and realising the importance of being
He had a prescription for the
"The Labour party is at its
best when it is at its broadest, with a range of opinions on
various issues, and not a narrow, secular, progressive, humanist
party," he said. Votes for UKIP and the SNP were in part, he
suggested, "a reaction to us seeming like a liberal, cosmopolitan,
He cited as an example of what
Christianity could bring to Labour, the victory of Stephen Timms in
East Ham, who secured 78 per cent of the vote.
"You can see what can happen
when a Labour candidate is able to speak the language of faith to
Christians and also a large Muslim population. . . We have
lot to bring to the party to make sure, both in politics and
communications, we are working with people of faith, and those who
have a real contribution to make to left of centre politics."
Conservatives celebrating today
include Caroline Ansell, also a member of CCF, who took Eastbourne
from the Liberal Democrats by 733 votes (News, 24 April). In her
victory speech she pledged to work "for all those in Eastbourne
& Willingdon and to ensure we see a more prosperous future in
these next incoming years".
Mr Bloom suggested that the
retention of seats by Christians including David Burrowes in
Enfield and John Glen in Salisbury "will mean that kingdom values
will remain at the heart of this government".
In his victory speech, Mr
Cameron articulated his belief that "We're on the brink of
something special in our country: we can make Britain a place where
a good life is in reach for everyone who is willing to work and do
the right thing."
He also thanked his coalition
partners, including Nick Clegg: "Elections can be a bruising
clashes of ideas and arguments and a lot of people who believe
profoundly in public service have seen that service cut short."
His Government would work to
deliver a recovery for all, he vowed, including "building
that northern powerhouse" and "giving the poorest people the chance
of training, a job, and hope for the future".
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the
president of the bishops' conference of England and Wales, sent his
congratulations to Mr Cameron, who would face "many challenges, not
least encouraging and sustaining economic growth and, at the same
time, giving particular attention to the needs of the poorest
people in our society today".
The reaction of Church of
England Bishops on Twitter was, by and large, gloomy.
"What the UK electoral system
needs most it is now unlikely to get: PR," wrote the Bishop of
Sodor & Man, the Rt Revd Robert Paterson.
The Bishop of Hereford, the Rt
Revd Richard Frith expressed sadness that his son, James Frith,
standing for Labour in Bury North, had narrowly failed, by 387
votes, to unseat the Conservatives: "Couldn't resist national tidal
wave, but brilliant effort. Proud of him."
The Bishop of Chelmsford, the
Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, tweeted: "All manner of things may not be
quite as well as some of us hoped. Julian of Norwich pray for