Eastleigh: ‘Jesus would approve of Labour’

By Stephen Slominski

Labour party candidate Leo Barraclough has told voters in Eastleigh that his party’s policies would be approved of by Jesus Christ.

While speaking at a hustings organised by St Thomas Church, Mr Barraclough told the congregation: “It’s always been important to me that my Christian values also tallied with my values in politics and I’ve tried to look at all the policies of the Labour party in that light and that if Jesus was looking at these policies he would find something he could approve of.”

He also quoted Jesus as saying ‘love others as well as you love yourself’ adding: “Hopefully that comes through in the policies of the Labour party.”

A recent poll carried out by ComRes on behalf of Theos, the religious think tank, suggested that that 61% of practising Christians are “absolutely certain” to vote while another survey conducted last year by the Evangelical Alliance put the figure as high as 81%, compared to only 47% of the general public.

As the Eastleigh constituency is a key marginal where 560 votes separated Liberal Democrat Chris Huhne from his Conservative rival last time, both he and Tory Maria Hutchings were anxious to share their beliefs with the 300 strong congregation and to explain their personal position on issues such as abortion and assisted suicide.

Although the Mr Barraclough claimed divine approval for Labour party policies, after the meeting several parishioners seemed not so sure.

Pensioner and widow Joyce called the 25p per week additional age allowance she receives for being aged over 80 as “ridiculous”.

“It won’t even pay for a second class stamp let alone a first class one, sometimes I think -why?” she said.

Low earner Daphne Bright is still upset about the abolition of the 10p tax band: “Two years ago Labour doubled my income tax from 10% to 20%. That’s not so ‘fair for all’.”

Mark, a married man with a young family said he felt that Labour policies had resulted in a “breakdown in society and in the family, views that anything is OK in what constitutes a family nowadays- gay couple, lesbian couples – it all seems to have gone a bit mad from my point of view.”

The seat is also being contested by a further four candidates – Ray Finch for Ukip, Keith Low for the National Liberal party, Tony Pewsey for the English Democrats and Dave Stone – an independent who briefly addressed the meeting.