The election has resulted in a hung parliament but it has also resulted in a parliament that is better balanced on Christian conscience issues.
Prior to the election we reviewed the voting records of the 491 MPs who were standing again and classified them with respect to the Christian conscience issues in the Westminster 2010 Declaration as supportive (159, 32%), unsupportive (297, 60%) or unclear (35, 7%).
Of these 491 MPs 412 were re-elected classified as follows: supportive (149, 36%), unsupportive (234, 56%), unclear (29, 7%).
So overall we lost 63 MPs with poor voting records but only 10 MPs with good voting records. While it is very sad to see the loss of people like David Drew and Geraldine Smith, we can be thankful that re-elected MPs are overall balanced more in our favour.
What about the 237 new MPs? What do we know about them?
We do not have past voting records here to rely on so assessment is more difficult. However we can make some sort of judgement from public statements, email correspondence and their willingness to make the Westminster 2010 pledge to ‘respect, uphold and protect the right of Christians to hold and express Christian beliefs and act according to Christian conscience’.
32 new MPs have made the pledge and a further 38 were judged supportive on the basis of their emails and public statements – 70 in total or 30% of the 237. Five were unsupportive. Of the remaining 162 we do not have enough information to make a judgement.
So overall of our 650 current MPs (assuming that the Anne McIntosh gets re-elected for Thirsk and Malton) 219 (149+70) are supportive (34%), 239 (234+5) are unsupportive (37%) and the views of the remaining 191 (29+162) are unclear or unknown (29%).
If just 15 of these192 unknowns are supportive (and we would expect many more than this) then the balance of supportive to unsupportive MPs will be better than that of the 491MPs who stood for re-election.
What was the overall effect of the Christian vote? The Christian Party won less than 18,000 votes in total for its candidates. However it is very clear that most Christians vote for candidates from one of the three main parties and around the country a number of Christians are amongst the new MPs. Entering parliament for the first time are nine members of the Conservative Christian Fellowship and one member of the Christian Socialist Movement. More than ten other new MPs indicated in their correspondence to us that they were Christians.
Amongst our gold star (supportive) and silver star (tactical vote) candidates in marginal constituencies a number won their seats on significant swings against sitting MPs with poor voting records on Christian conscience issues.
For example in Oxford West and Abingdon, Nicola Blackwood, an evangelical Christian, edged out outspoken secularist MP Evan Harris with a 6.9% swing. Robert Halfon cruised in with a 5.9% swing in Harlow (expelling Bill Rammell) and Jeremy LeFroy managed a 7.4% swing in Stafford to oust David Kidney. Similarly Gavin Shuker held firm against a smaller than average swing of 4.6% to hold Luton South for the Labour Party.
The real impact of the Christian vote in this election will require more detailed analysis – but Christians have been mobilised to vote on conscience issues in greater numbers than ever before.
Over 120,000 have visited our website, over 60,000 have signed the Westminster Declaration and over 8,000 have joined our Facebook groups in just four weeks. Hundreds of churches have sent in petition forms and thousands have written to local candidates to enquire where they stand. The church is awakening.