New research shows UK Anglicans still Conservative, Muslim vote is Labour's to lose

Ordinary Anglicans veer to the Right, regardless of the liberal-Left reputation of many Bishops, while Muslims veer strongly to the Left. This doesn't mean religion is decisive in UK politics, but it does mean politicians need to take heed

by the commentator on 26 January 2014 10:50


A fascinating new study by the Theos think tank, founded in 2006 with the support of then Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, suggests that despite the Anglican leadership's reputation for being what Theos called “beardy lefties” most Anglicans remain firmly on the Right, while Muslims in particular veer to the Left.

On Sunday, Theos highlighted the following findings, which are taken from their press release:

** People who attend a religious service regularly, irrespective of religion are most consistently pro-welfare. Non-believers and nominal believers tend to be more hostile to welfare and more individualist.

** Anglicans are most consistently authoritarian in their political values, in such areas as law and order, respect for British values, and discipline at school.

** Catholics are the most left-wing of Christian groups. They are more welfarist than Anglicans and also less authoritarian.

** People from minority religions (the majority of whom are Muslim) are most consistently left-wing in their values.

** At the 2010 elections, Muslims tended strongly to vote Labour, as did Hindus and Sikhs less strongly. By contrast, the Jewish vote was more Conservative and Buddhist vote more Liberal Democrat

** People of no religion are most consistently libertarian, taking a strong line against censorship, although they, like others, have become more authoritarian over the last ten years. They are also more sceptical towards management and more convinced that “ordinary working people do not get their fair share of the nation’s wealth".

Theos Research Director Nick Spencer said that, perhaps unlike America, religious block votes that could swing entire elections are not a feature of the British political scene. 

The report, "does show, however, that there are clear and significant alignments between various religious and political camps, of which politicians should be aware."

Other political analysts have argued that although the Muslim vote in particular -- representing around five percent of the total, but much more heavily concentrated in some urban areas -- is probably not yet large enough to influence the overall result of a general election, elected representatives increasingly take heed of what Muslim voters think on matters such as foreign policy in general and the Middle East in particular.

The Theos report showed, on aggregate between 1983 and 2010, that among non-Christian minority religious voters (mainly, though not exclusively Muslim) Labour attracted 51.5 percent of the vote, the Conservatives took 27 percent and Liberal-Democrats attracted 18.5 percent.

Given that Labour and the Liberal Democrats would both usually be considered centre-Left parties, 70 percent among non-Christian religious voters went for the centre-Left rather than the centre-Right. By 2010, both the Conservative and Liberal Democrat vote among this group stood at below 20 percent, with Labour around the 60 percent mark.

For the full report, click here.

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