Christians on the Left?

Posted on February 7, 2014 at 11:22 am,

One of the drawbacks of belonging to a smaller political party as a Christian is that there is rarely a specifically Christian group within the party, and because your time as a party activist is limited, it’s difficult to find the capacity to set one up. As a result, I was somewhat interested to read that the Christian group within the Labour Party Party was rebranding itself from the “Christian Socialist Movement” to “Christians on the Left”. The name change clearly sends the message that the organisation wants to expand itself to cover those of us in other left-wing parties (and yes, Ed Miliband does seem to have moved Labour from centre-right Blairism to a genuine centre-left position).

So, I contacted them to find out whether the impression they had given was actually the case. Their response was the following:

Christians on the Left has always been open to members of any party and, indeed, we have individuals who are Greens, LibDems, Communists and Christian Party members. As an organisation, however, we are and will remain affiliated to the Labour Party.

Which seems to be a definite “no” to the question of whether the new name actually reflects the reality. Because, as an active member of the Green Party I cannot in good conscience join an organisation where part of my membership subscription goes directly to a party which I will be standing and campaigning against in an election (which means that I have opted out of my trade union’s political fund). So, I e-mailed them back, asking

But if I were to join, part of my membership fee would go to the Labour Party? Thus implying that I support them.

Their response was the following:

It works out at 83p per member goes on the affiliation fee to the Labour Party. You could perhaps counter that with a donation of 83p to the cause of your choice?

Which completely misses the point. If Christians on the Left offered a non-affiliate membership, Christians like me within smaller left-wing parties would be able to have the same kind of support as those within the big three parties do. As it is, they are sending the clear message that left-wing Christians are honour-bound to support the Labour Party. A message which, in my opinion, is incredibly harmful to Christian involvement in politics.

7 Comments

  1. Posted February 26, 2014 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    This post names just my quandary: I identify with so much of what ‘Christians on the Left’ is about, I just don’t think the Labour party is a good vehicle for some of the most pressing issues. Like you, I find the Green Party more expressive of my values and commitments. Thanks for putting this out there.

  2. Gareth McNab
    Posted February 26, 2014 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    And it poses a problem for me as I do not intend to join a political party but do wish to further my thinking as it has developed from a right wing point of view to a more centre-left: I reject the premise that the Labour party is the only vehicle for someone who thinks that the poor must have their rights promoted and protected and those with power must have their responsibilities encouraged and then enforced.

    Although if Labour want to accept this simple premise as their manifest commitment, then I will gladly change my view!!!

  3. Jon Orrell
    Posted May 5, 2015 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    So as the Green party is growing in numbers; should we form a Christian Greens group?
    Maybe we would be the only two members, but I hope there would be more.

  4. Jon Orrell
    Posted May 5, 2015 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    Forgot to put links to ensure I received a reply

  5. Stephen Gray
    Posted May 5, 2015 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    Hi Jon,

    There is in fact a Christian Greens group that is currently in the process of forming (the process has been slowed down because it’s been happening so close to the General Election). If you message me via the contact form, I can put you in touch.

  6. Mike Smith
    Posted May 7, 2015 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

    Certainly would not be just two members – you can count me in as a Christian Green. Was encouraged to see that Christian Socialist Movement had changed to Christians On The Left , as thought along with the red and green cross that they must have broken away from Labour affiliation. Not so it seems.

  7. Posted May 8, 2015 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

    and me -makes threee …
    To be fair, Christians on the Left do say they don’t insist on Labour party support or affiliation.

One Trackback

  1. […] Party. Usually, they ask me one of two things. Firstly, whether the party has an equivalent of Christians on the Left in Labour, the Liberal Democrat Christian Forum, or the Conservative Christian Fellowship. Secondly, they […]

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