New user? Register here:
Email Address:
Password:
Retype Password:
First Name:
Last Name:
Existing user? Login here:
 
 
Way In

In Labour

The race for the leadership of the Labour Party ends this month. The contenders have appeared at more than 50 hustings events, sponsored by local constituencies, unions, and lobby groups - including the Christian Socialist Movement.

Despite opposition from some of the party's secularists, the CSM event was very well attended, supporting Harold Wilson's claim that the Labour movement owed more to Methodism than Marx. Leaders from Keir Hardie to Tony Blair have been found 'doing God', and each of the new candidates was asked about their own faith position. In the end, their answers revealed more about how they might seek to engage religious groups than they did about the source of their own political values.

'I'm not a religious person but I'm a person of faith,' said early favourite David Miliband. 'I have faith in people.' He spoke approvingly about the Sermon on the Mount.

His brother Ed adopted the same tactic. He had 'not a religious faith but a simple faith', arguing that 'We need to reclaim words like love, compassion, caring'. The other Ed, Balls, spoke about his father the Sunday School teacher and the need to 'talk more about values'.

Andy Burnham, a Roman Catholic, insisted that 'the basic tenets of the Labour Party and socialism are one and the same with those of Christianity', and lamented the breakdown in communication between New Labour and the churches.

Diane Abbott, previously seen as most sceptical about the relationship between religion and government following her call for all churches to be state registered, said, 'We could do worse than return to values of faith, community and family.'

All charming stuff, if somewhat vague. Interest in the candidates' faith extends beyond religious groups, however, and judging by presenter Krishnan Guru-Murthy's tweet on the subject, answers given to Channel 4 News were somewhat more blunt. 'In answer to "Do you believe in God?": @dmiliband says "no", @andyburnhamMP says "don't know", @dianeforleader says "yes'''.