Thursday, 22 April 2010

God on her side?

Back in February Blood and Property posted a story called "Brain cancer will not halt Christian bid for Diane's seat". It came from the Scotsman which reported that the Reverend George Hargreaves - the leader of the Hackney-based Christian Party - had pulled out of an election because his wife, Maxine, had fallen ill with cancer.

The paper said that Maxine Hargreaves had already recovered once from the disease and had undergone brain surgery in 2007. It also said that she still aimed to take on Diane Abbott in Hackney South and Shoreditch.

Yesterday her candidacy for Hackney North and Stoke Newington was announced.

How serious a threat does she pose? In February Diane Abbott told Blood and Property: "A large proportion of my constituents go to church so understanding religion is important to me. Huge amounts of money are being poured into the Christian Party here in Hackney, as your blog has pointed out. This seems to suggest religion may be on the agenda of politicians in the future but it will only really make a difference if candidates can win the support of people outside of their churches as well as within them."

The Christian Party now has the backing of some rich and powerful figures: Hackney Christians: money, power, demonic possession.

It also came 7th in the 2009 European elections, behind the BNP, in the London Region winning 51,336 votes (2.9%). (These figures are from Wikipedia which is worth a look for an interesting set of policies ranging from music copyright law to "discouragement of the practice of addressing women as Ms")

The success of the party, or the damage it could inflict on Labour in Hackney, will depend on how large the borough's fundamentalist Christian population is. Many of these could come from the African community which Hargreaves has been targeting, at home and abroad: Hackney Christian politician in BNP 'mistake'

However Hargreaves and his party are not well regarded in some quarters. On April 2nd the Guardian described Rev Hargreaves as "The black man who could help the BNP win Barking"

On Tuesday April 20th, the BBC published a piece called "Will Christians swing the 2010 election?" It concentrated on marginals and quoted Rev Hargreaves saying his party could have a "king-maker" role in some constituencies.

The Christian Party was started by Rev Hargreaves in 2004 and took on its current name at the end of 2005 (according to Wikipedia) so it has not stood candidates in a General Election before.

The party is also fielding a candidate in Hackney South and Shoreditch and in the borough's Mayoral elections.

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