|Christian Peoples Alliance|
|Headquarters||85 Tarling Road, London, E16 1HN|
|European affiliation||European Christian Political Movement|
|European Parliament Group||None|
|Politics of the United Kingdom
The Christian Peoples Alliance is a Christian democrat political party in the United Kingdom. Founded in its present form during the late 20th century; it grew out of a cross-party advocacy group known as the Movement for Christian Democracy. The party operates all over Great Britain and has fledgling groups specific to Scotland and Wales. To date, the party has five elected members as town councillors in England. The current leader of the party in general is Alan Craig, who took over the role from Ram Gidoomal in 2004.
Public awareness of the party was first achieved due to members standing in the London mayor elections, in which they achieved almost 100,000 at their very first attempt. The values and policies the party looks to uphold — Christian democracy — were already well established in many European countries, but the Christian Peoples Alliance were the first to bring them to the United Kingdom. The CPA has also received encouragement from other Christian democrat parties and are 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.
Political writers 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 various 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, amongst others — 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 enter 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 at the time 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 politically 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. The campaign was committed to winning more jobs for Londoners, leading to the 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."
Following on from this, the party continued its activities, mostly in London such as fairly deprived working class areas like Canning Town in Newham. The Mayflower Declaration was authored which laid out in detail the parties values and policies. It was at Canning Town in 2002 that Alan Craig became the first ever Christian Democrat elected in Britain, as member of the local 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 Alan 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 commitments second. The party had more success in 2006, gaining two more council seats in Canning Town. The following year the party made way into Northern England, getting two members elected at council level for Aston-cum-Aughton in 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. The CPA campaigned against the building of Abbey Mills "mega 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.
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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 Alan 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:
Christian democracy is sometimes described as to the left economically, however it is social, not "socialist". 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 party has campaigned on a wide 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' before seeing relatives. 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 taken a firm stand against the reclassification of cannabis, in favour of linking Christianity to the European Union constitution, building more church schools and supporting traditional Christian morality. He 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. In fact this is a regeneration scheme and any families who move have been guaranteed a right to return by Labour Newham Council. Ironically though, last year, and before the recent reported fall in property prices,Craig himself sold a property close to the regeneration area and moved to Forest Gate.
He has also campaigned against proposals to demolish parts of Queen Street Market in favour of "non-invasive refurbishment" environment.. Since its inception, 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.
|Alan Craig||Canning Town Council||2002—present|
|Simeon Ademolake||Canning Town Council||2006—present|
|Denise Stafford||Canning Town Council||2006—present|
|Paul Martin||Aston-cum-Aughton Council||2007—present|
|David Gee||Aston-cum-Aughton Council||2007—present|