The voting conundrum for socially conservative Christians like me

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I am sure I am not the only socially conservative Christian with a voting headache ahead of the General Election on July 4.

I would prefer to vote Reform. But to play my small part in trying to prevent a neo-Marxist elective dictatorship emerging in the UK I think I am going to have to vote Conservative in the North Lancashire constituency of Morecambe and Lunesdale where I live.

Writing about my dilemma in The Conservative Woman last week, I sympathise with Don Benson's comment in the thread: "In the present case, supporting the morally bankrupt Conservatives after the utterly shocking way they've behaved (and clearly would continue to behave) should not be crossing sound minds as either an intelligent or worthy option."

The problem I face here is that this is not a typical 'Red Wall' constituency in the North of England won from Labour in the Boris Johnson 'Get Brexit Done' victory of 2019. 

Its Conservative MP (now parliamentary candidate) David Morris first won the seat from Labour in 2010 and held onto it in 2015, 2017 and 2019. He is an experienced, well-liked constituency MP and therefore I believe he is best placed to keep Labour out. He is defending a majority from 2019 of 6,354.

I do not think Reform should be fielding a candidate here. But for every seat where Reform agreed not to run against the Conservatives, Nigel Farage's party should have been offered a clear run in a winnable seat for its candidate.

I asked Morris whether he would support former Home Secretary Suella Braverman as Conservative leader after the possible meltdown of the party's MPs to around 100 after July 4.

I have still not had a reply to my question. But if cabinet minister Grant Shapps is allowed to say, as he did in his June 12 interview with Times Radio, that the Conservatives are unlikely to win the election, why shouldn't a Conservative candidate speak his or her mind on who would make the best leader of the opposition in the elective dictatorship that a Labour victory is poised to usher in?

Miriam Cates, the Conservative candidate for the South Yorkshire seat of Penistone and Stocksbridge, argued on June 13 in The Telegraph that Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is more "dangerous" than Tony Blair was when he led New Labour to its landslide victory in 1997.

Cates, a committed evangelical Christian who won her seat for the Conservatives from Labour in 2019, wrote: "From 1997, Tony Blair and his allies remade the British state in their own image. Power and agency were taken from Parliament and the people and handed over to courts, arms-length bodies, technocrats and civil servants.

"These acts of constitutional vandalism changed Britain profoundly and have made it markedly more difficult for today's politicians to resolve some of our country's most pressing challenges."

She admitted that "it's true that the Conservative Party has had 14 years to repeal Blairite legislation". But she claimed "fair-minded voters will acknowledge that such reforms would not have been politically possible in coalition (with the Liberal Democrats from 2010 to 2015), nor practically achievable alongside Brexit, nor a priority during the pandemic.

She continued, "However, the great irony is that because the Conservatives have been unable to roll back New Labour reforms, Starmer may now get the chance to pick up where Blair left off. The Labour Party has already indicated that it would introduce a new Race Equality Act, beef up the Office for Budget Responsibility and make it easier to change gender.

"A Labour 'supermajority' could vandalise our constitution so irreversibly that no centre-right government could turn back the clock."

My main concern is the effect that a neo-Marxist Labour government would have on the freedom of orthodox Christians to proclaim and practise their counter-cultural beliefs. Since the Conservative-led government introduced same-sex marriage in 2013, incidents of orthodox Christian street preachers being arrested for criticising homosexual practice have increased. This site among others has extensively covered the brutal arrest of Pastor John Sherwood by the Metropolitan Police in Uxbridge in 2021 and his subsequent acquittal in 2022. 

Christians who have expressed their beliefs on marriage and sexual morality in the workplace or on social media have also been losing their jobs under the Conservatives and, assisted often by the Christian legal Centre, have been taking their employers to tribunals.

Bad though it has been in the past decade, I believe this trend will get worse under Labour for the reasons Cates has given in her political analysis.

The traditional Christian gospel is the only hope of eternal salvation for the people of this country but it looks as if they are going to give Labour an overwhelming mandate to make its proclamation much harder in the coming years, hence my voting headache.

Julian Mann is a former Church of England vicar, now an evangelical journalist based in Lancashire.