Christian Peoples Alliance
||The neutrality of this article is disputed. (May 2014)|
|Christian Peoples Alliance|
|Leader||Sidney Cordle MBE|
|Preceded by||Alan Craig|
|Headquarters||15 Abbey Road Belvedere Kent DA17 5DF|
|European affiliation||European Christian Political Movement|
|European Parliament group||None|
|Politics of the United Kingdom
The Christian Peoples Alliance is a Christian democratic political party in the United Kingdom. Founded in its present form in 1999, it grew out of a cross-party advocacy group known as the Movement for Christian Democracy. The first leader of the party was Ram Gidoomal CBE. Alan Craig then took over from him in 2004 and resigned in 2012. He was then replaced by Sid Cordle MBE who is the current leader.
The values and policies the party looks to uphold — Christian democracy — were already reflected elsewhere in Europe, but the Christian Peoples Alliance claim[by whom?] to have been the first to bring them to the United Kingdom. The CPA is affiliated with the European Christian Political Movement.
As part of Christian social teaching, the party emphasises social justice; commitment to the "poor, the elderly and the vulnerable". Based on the teaching of Jesus Christ, it also supports reconciliation between classes, nations and peoples. CPA has also voiced advocation of environmentalism when considering economic policies. An important part of the party's outlook is respect for life, manifested in opposition to "abortion as a form of contraception, euthanasia, cloning and practices that directly or indirectly violate or de-value human life". The CPA holds that traditional marriage and the family in general are essential bases for all social cohesion.
Membership and affiliations
Political writers[who?] have asserted that the Christian Peoples Alliance wish to create an alternative to the perceived moral relativism of other parties in the United Kingdom, along the lines of Norway's Christian Democratic Party and Sweden's Christian Democrats — rather than a fundamentalist position. Since 2007 the party has been affiliated to the European Christian Political Movement including its Youth Network, an association of Christian Democrat parties, think tanks and politicians across Europe who also advocate a Christian Social view. When the CPA joined, Federal President of the party Stephen Hammond stated; "we want to learn from what other Christian parties are doing in their own countries, but also make a distinctive British contribution ourselves". It also has good relations and has received encouragement from other Christian democrats, such as Andre Rouvoet of the Netherlands' ChristianUnion, Päivi Räsänen of Finland's Christian Democrats and Senator Rónán Mullen an independent member of Ireland's Seanad Éireann amongst others.
From its inception in 1999, the party has taken the bulk of its membership from Anglicans, Catholics, Evangelicals and the Black Churches. Some of the latter group splintered off in 2004 under George Hargreaves to found the Christian Party, which compared to the Christian Peoples Alliance has more of Christian right perspective. The two parties remain separate entities, but in 2008 and 2009 entered electoral pacts with each other as Christian Party-Christian Peoples Alliance. The Christian Peoples Alliance does not limit its electoral appeal to just Christians, it quotes one supporter saying "I don't believe in God, but I do believe in Christian values". It generally looks to a range of people who feel disenfranchised by the stances of existing parties. It has also gained support from some people of minority religions as an opposition to secularism, social breakdown and moral relativism.
The roots of the party can be traced back to a movement founded in 1991 by Christians — both Protestants and Catholics — known as the Movement for Christian Democracy. It was founded in Westminster at a rally which drew an attendance of 2,000 people, with the motivation of providing an answer to increasing secularism. The three founding members were David Alton, Derek Enright and Ken Hargreaves, who were Members of Parliament representing the Liberal, Labour and Conservative parties respectively. While the tradition of Christian democracy parties was well established in many other parts of Europe, it was not introduced into Britain until the MCD movement of the 1990s.[note 1] The movement existed as a cross-party advocacy group of sorts and although there were rumours in the media of it becoming a fully fledged political party it never materialised.
However, out of the movement its chairman Dr Alan Storkey and vice-chairman David Campanale, led an internal consultation of MCD members that led to the formation of the Christian Peoples Alliance by leading MCD activists in 1999. Elements of proportional representation at local government level, brought about after the devolution of the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly saw the party gain confidence. By 2000 Ram Gidoomal had become leader of the party, a businessman and banker who had been awarded a CBE. He had converted to Christianity from Hinduism and is a Briton of Asian background. Gidoomal stood for election for the London mayoral election, 2000. Gaining 98,549 votes at the first attempt, the party surprised some; finishing 5th, ahead of the Greens in first preference votes. The campaign was committed to winning more jobs for Londoners, leading to The Times claiming, based on multiple choice results from a website run by New Statesman: "if Londoners elected a mayor purely on how his or her policies match the electors' views [...] the winner would be Ram Gidoomal.". In November 2000, a candidate supported by the Christian Peoples Alliance stood at the Preston by-election, 2000, finishing seventh.
Following on from this, the party continued its activities, mostly in London such as fairly deprived working class areas like Canning Town in the London Borough of Newham. The Mayflower Declaration laid out the party's values and policies. It was at Canning Town in 2002 that Alan Craig became the first Christian Democrat elected in Britain, as member of the local Newham council. The party voiced its opposition to the prospect of the Iraq War, deeming it "illegal, unwise and immoral" — a position which they have stood by. After the London mayoral election, 2004, Gidoomal stepped down as party leader to be succeeded by Cllr Craig. The party stood members for the 2005 general election with little success, yet a "blind candidating" contest run by BBC's Newsnight programme placed the party manifesto policies second. The party had more success in 2006, gaining two more council seats in Canning Town. The following year the party had two members elected at parish council level for Aston cum Aughton in the Metropolitan Borough of Rotherham.
The same year it also gained encouragement from Scottish Catholic bishops Keith O'Brien and Philip Tartaglia for its social stances, including marriage, rights for unborn children and supporting the Church in the adoption debate. The party also defended Anglican bishop Michael Nazir-Ali after comments made in the media regarding Islam. The CPA campaigned against the building of Abbey Mills Mosque in West Ham, planned by an alleged radical sect,[note 2] the party stated it was an "unwanted landmark" and would undermine community cohesion. More than 255,000 British people supported the stance in a petition on the Downing Street website. As part of a party pact with the Christian Party, Craig stood for the London mayoral election, 2008 as "The Christian Choice", gaining almost 3% of the vote. This was followed up with 249,493 votes at the European Parliament election 2009, 1.6% of the total.
Policies and stances
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The founding MCD principles, adopted in 1991 as the Westminster Declaration were then adopted by Christian Peoples Alliance council in September 2001 as the Mayflower Declaration (after the Mayflower Family Centre in London's Canning Town). The use of the term "Mayflower Declaration" as a statement of the CPA's Principles must be regarded a controversial because the Mayflower Family Centre (of which, at the time of the declaration Craig was Director) was a Community Centre registered with the Charity Commissioners. As such it was required to conform to Charity Commission rules, which preclude party political bias or association.
All the policies of the CPA are linked to these policies and are summarised as:
- Recognition of Christ's sovereignty (supreme authority) over the nations and in politics.
- Respect of God's law as the basis for constitutional government and a stable society.
- Reconciliation among nations, races, religions, classes, gender and communities [with God]
- Respect for human life given by God.
- Social Justice to address wrongs and provide restitution to the wronged.
- Peacemaking, by addressing the causes of wars.
- Open, transparent government, which subjects itself to debate and critique.
Economic and European policy
The Christian Peoples Alliance rejects class struggle doctrine and supports a mixed market economy, with an emphasis on the community, social solidarity, support for social welfare provision and some regulation of market forces. The central theme being social justice, responsible charity and an emphasis on "people before profit". Within the Mayflower Declaration the party sets out as goals and desires; providing resources to discourage economic dependency and promote gainful employment. A holistic approach to care, which moves beyond mere financial assistance, as well as help for those in danger of being pushed to the margins of society, like the homeless and disabled. The Mayflower Declaration was updated and reprinted in early 2013 just after Sid Cordle became leader. It now has a new introduction and at the back the policy on Europe was changed from support for the EU to "While we are members of the European Union to work with fellow Christians to seek to bring about moral and democratic reform." It subsequently went further and in its 2014 European manifesto said it wanted a referendum on the EU and that if a referendum was held now would support leaving the EU.
The party has campaigned on a range of issues, winning success in 2000 when it organised a petition against government plans to require Asian visitors to the UK to place a £10,000 'bond'. In 2000 and 2004 in London it put inner-city regeneration and fighting discrimination as its top policy priorities. Its policies to cut energy-use and road congestion through a motorway coach-network won acceptance at government level. Its policies in support of marriage and church schools have become popular currency among secular parties. The CPA has also opposed the reclassification of cannabis, When Craig became leader he introduced policies in favour of linking Christianity to the European Union Constitution, building more church schools and supporting traditional Christian morality. Craig also has led campaigns backing the UNISON steward at Newham Council who faced disciplinary action; against plans to build London's large casino in Newham, against the Excel Arms Fair; against what he claims are Labour's plans to move local families out of Canning Town in support of yuppie housing. Craig has also campaigned against proposals to demolish parts of Queen Street Market in favour of "non-invasive refurbishment" environment.
The CPA has fought local authority elections at parish, borough, city and county level in London, Glasgow, Sheffield, Leeds, Rotherham, Middlesbrough, Ipswich, Gloucester, Northampton and Suffolk. Since Cordle became leader, campaigns have focused more on moral issues and the party has taken a more hostile line on the EU. The party fought three regions in the 2014 European Parliament elections and had just over 60 local government candidates.
|Alan Craig||Newham London Borough Council||2002—2010|
|Simeon Ademolake||Newham London Borough Council||2006—2010|
|Denise Stafford||Newham London Borough Council||2006—2010|
|Paul Martin||Aston-cum-Aughton Parish Council||2007—2009|
|David Gee||Aston-cum-Aughton Parish Council||2007—2009|
The party took a leading role in the campaign against the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 with its leader Sid Cordle speaking at a rally in Trafalgar Square and also while the debates were taking place he spoke at a rally outside Westminster.
In May 2014 during the EU elections under questioning from Andrew Neil on the BBC Daily Politics programme Cordle said that it was possible that recent storms in the UK could have been caused by God. Saying "I think all Christians believe that God does, and can do, things with nature," he said. "A lot of Christians believe God is angry over 'gay marriage' and God can show that anger if he wants to."
- There had been some earlier movements in the United Kingdom which claimed to represent Christian values, for example the Protestant Unionist Party in Northern Ireland. However, academics differentiate between the two kinds in that PUP was associated with regional identity and exclusively Protestant basis, entwined with local politics of Northern Ireland. While the Movement for Christian Democracy was established on an inclusive Christian basis, with Protestant and Catholic involvement. A Christian democracy aimed at confronting secularism and representing Christians and their values in the United Kingdom in general.
- The sect known as Tablighi Jamaat are behind the planning. A group whom the Federal Bureau of Investigation has claimed are a "key influence on terrorists targeting Britain" and "a common link to a string of attacks and conspiracies". The party's broadcast in relation to the planning was censored on BBC and ITV, which led the CPA to take legal action. A 23-year-old named Muhammad from Stevenage posted a death threat on YouTube in response, which was described in the national media as "chilling".
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