Tooting View: The jilted religious voter
UKIP could be poised to take the religious vote. If the lessons from Tooting are anything to go by, there are a lot of people out there who are not being properly represented by the established parties
It could not be more apparent that the establishment parties offer no representation for the religious voter. Labour, in its pursuit of ethnic minority votes, has assumed that, by default, the non-Church of England population would vote for them, regardless of their policies.
However, with the expansion of online media over the last decade, people up and down the country have begun to see through empty slogans. The LibDems have traditionally been way too "enlightened" to bother themselves with matters of religion, perceived by them in the category of superstition.
Conservatives tried to convince the general public that they had become the last bastion of Christianity, until they formed the current Coalition Government which in turn passed a number of laws which contradict Christianity, as well as the other Abrahamic religions, namely Judaism and Islam.
UKIP has long stressed its commitment to the Christian ethos, whilst remaining welcoming towards other religions. At some point earlier in 2014 it was even suggested that UKIP has become the default go-to party for British Christians.
I very much believe so, given that Christians have been largely neglected by the LibLabCon establishment politicians, who try to out-do each other at being seen to embrace any other religion, whilst typically coming from Christian backgrounds themselves.
The political correctness championed by the Westminster establishment has created a bizarre situation in which it is almost a faux pas for a budding aspiring politician to reach out to their local church for support. At the same time, Christianity in Britain is definitely on the up, partially due to a large influx of Catholics from the East and South of the EU, who are more visible than ever in this country’s churches.
As a practising Christian, I made sure to reach out to my fellow Tooting Christians soon after being selected to stand for Parliament and found that churches are full to the brim. It is very heartening to learn that up to 2,000 attend the Sunday mass at Christ the King Polish Roman Catholic church in Balham High Road.
The Tamil mass at St Boniface Catholic Church in Mitcham Road was also very well attended despite happening on a Thursday evening. Needless to say, my local Catholic church, with masses celebrated in English, is always full to the point that some have to do without a seat.
This Christian electorate has been largely forgotten, which is exemplified by Christian needs being pushed to the back of the queue when it comes to public festivities.
As an example, it has been widely publicised that Diwali street lights in Tooting are recycled for Eid as well as for Christmas, which may be a smart idea for our age of austerity, but it might make sense to re-jig the theme once in a while, so that every few years Christmas lights are seen on the high street, even if they come on as soon as Diwali.
Saying that, I have decided to petition Wandsworth Council to that effect, please sign if you agree.
Of course, as is becoming ever more evident, UKIP has been attracting numerous voters and activists alike who identify with other religions. In particular, the prominent UKIP MEP, Amjad Bashir, is Muslim, as is the Chairman of the Ealing UKIP branch, Afzal Akram, both of British-Pakistani origin.
Interestingly, given its adherence to the Christian ethos, UKIP has become more acceptable to other religions, especially those with common roots i.e. Judaism, Christianity and Islam, than the areligious (or even anti-religious) stance of the establishment parties.
The laws coming from Brussels, many of them staunchly promoting atheism or at least downgrading the prominence of Christianity, also encourage people to vote for eurosceptic parties.
It remains to be seen whether the practising population will switch to UKIP in their droves. But the signs are there for all to see.
Przemek Skwirczynski is UKIP Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Tooting
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