Prior to the general election we made a number of posts touching on the relationship between religion and politics/voting. Now that the results are in, we can report a few more snippets of information which touch on this theme.
On 10 May the Westminster 2010 Declaration of Christian Conscience, which has attracted almost 65,000 signatures (and about double that number of visitors to its website), issued a press release claiming that the general election had resulted in a House of Commons which was ‘better balanced on Christian conscience issues’. The release can be found at:
Of the 491 MPs who were standing for re-election, 32% had been categorized by Westminster 2010 as being supportive of Christian conscience issues, in terms of their Parliamentary voting record. 412 of them were re-elected, of whom 36% had pro-Christian voting records. ‘So overall we lost 63 MPs with poor voting records but only 10 MPs with good voting records.’
The 237 new MPs were assessed in the light of their public statements, email correspondence and their willingness to make the Westminster 2010 pledge to ‘respect, uphold and protect the right of Christians to hold and express Christian beliefs and act according to Christian conscience’. On this basis 70 (30%) were judged to be supportive.
Overall, Westminster 2010 claims that 34% of the 2010 intake of MPs are supportive of Christian conscience issues, 37% are unsupportive and the views of the remaining 29% are unclear or unknown.
Westminster 2010 made light of the poor showing of the Christian Party, which polled fewer than 18,000 votes in total for its candidates. Rather it highlighted the successes of Christians standing for the main political parties, including the evangelical Nicola Blackwood who unseated the secularist Evan Harris in Oxford West and Abingdon.
Meanwhile, The Muslim News for 7 May reported that the number of Muslim MPs had doubled from four (in the 2005 Parliament) to eight, equivalent to 1.2% of all seats, less than half the proportion of Muslims in the population at the 2001 census (2.8%). The eight comprise six Labour MPs (three of them women) and two Conservatives. More than 90 Muslim candidates stood for election in all. The Muslim News has subsequently published tables of the performance of all Muslim candidates at:
The number of Jewish MPs elected was 21, according to The Jewish Chronicle for 14 May. They represent 3.2% of the new House of Commons, more than six times the proportion of Jews in the country in 2001. The new MPs comprise 12 Conservatives, 7 Labour and 2 Liberal Democrats. The most famous unsuccessful Jewish candidate was Andrew Dismore, who lost his seat in Hendon to the Conservatives by just 106 votes. The Muslim Public Affairs Committee has claimed it campaigned for his downfall.
The Catholic Herald for 14 May stated that the number of Roman Catholic MPs had risen from 64 to 68 (17 of them newly elected), despite prominent figures such as Ruth Kelly and Ann Widdecombe stepping down. This is 10.5% of the new House of Commons, a similar figure to the number of Catholics in the adult population as measured by opinion polls. The 68 comprise 40 Labour MPs, 19 Conservatives, 5 Liberal Democrats, 3 Northern Ireland SDLP and 1 Scottish Nationalist. The pro-Labour bias of Catholics was demonstrated in Ipsos MORI data in the run-up to the general election, as featured by BRIN on its website on 4 May.