From the vicarage extra – a summary of the local candidates.

It’s four days until the general election. This post is a summary of what I’ve discovered about the candidates for West Bromwich East. I have listed their responses to my questions set out in from the vicarage March 2010 and whether they’d sign the Westminster Declaration of Christian Conscience. I’ve also listed their strengths and weaknesses under the two headings of national issues and local issues.

The questions I asked were:

  1. What is your faith?
  2. What do you think life is for?
  3. What do you think government is for?
  4. Will you sign the WDCC?

Tom Watson (Labour)

Tom Watson

1. No direct response but said “I do have concerns about an aggressive secularism entering political debate in this country and suspect that I could answer your three questions favourably.”
2. No direct response
3. Answered, in part, in question form focusing on UK child poverty, education, global infant mortality, workers rights in West Bromwich.
4. Will not sign but 90% supportive.

Tom himself said his response to the questions on “from the vicarage” were rushed.

National Issues: he has the strength of long service in government and with it experience and knowledge. He has a weak moral voting record according to the Christian Institute’s categories.
Local issues: strength again linked to long service. Tom knows West Bromwich, its people and civic government very well and has been willing to work cross-party to achieve good results for West Bromwich, such as the new FE college.

Alistair Thompson (Conservative)

Alistair Thompson

1. The simple answer to this is I am a traditional Anglican whose faith underpins my values and my morals.
2. …ultimately life is for ‘doing good’ whether it is working hard, raising a family, giving back something to your community, or simply bringing joy into the lives of others.
3. In simple terms I think that Government is there to protect and support people. When I say protect people I mean, protect them from harm be it internally from crime, illness or poverty, or externally from terrorism, climate change and the threat of invasion. And support people by helping them to find work, educating them and treating them when they are sick.
4. First candidate to sign.

National Issues.
Alistair has played an active part in national politics as press co-ordinator for “Care not Killing” and has a working knowledge of central government.
Local issues. He has few ties with West Bromwich and would take some time to find his feet here.

Steve Grey (UKIP)

Steve Grey

1. I am a Christian, a Protestant; and would consider myself to be very low church Anglican (C.O.E.).
2. To be lived positively and to the full each and every day, in partnership and good fellowship with family, friends, neighbours, work colleagues and all others you may happen to meet along the way.
3. To uphold freedom, justice, liberty and democracy; and to be bound by the will of the people; and to serve the people honourably, decently and lawfully at all times.
4. Yes

National Issues. ?
Local Issues. Lives in Great Barr and has a breadth of knowledge regarding local issues.

Ian Garrett (Liberal Democrat).

Ian Garrett

1. Christian and wrote “I didn’t want to seem to “pitch” for a Christian vote or endorsement”
2. no direct response
3. no direct response but Ian seeks to think biblically about politics and takes seriously the teaching of Jesus and the practical application of Luke 4:18-19.
4. Has signed but suggests the issues have too narrow a focus.

National issues. Ian has a working knowledge of national issues.
Local issues. He has lived and served as a councillor in this area and now lives in Quinton, West Birmingham.

Mark Cowles (English Democrat)

Mark Cowles

1-3. not asked directly due entering election race after I’d asked the questions.

National issues. Focused on issues which effect the English against Scottish and Welsh but has not demonstrated working knowledge of wider political matters.
Local issues. In the hustings demonstrated the best knowledge of what local people really care about.

Terry Lewin (BNP)

Terry Lewin

No response to my email.

Final Thoughts

In a democracy the will of the people determines the nature of the government, as it should. So, under God, we get the government we deserve.  I pray that God will turn the will of the people to want his will to be done on earth as it is in heaven and for candidates to stand in line with the good, pleasing and perfect will of God (Romans 12:1-2).

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