Quakers get ready for general election

'All the candidates were engaging and thoughtful on serious subjects that need really serious attention.’ Fred Ashmore

‘It was an interesting, respectful and well-attended event. There must have been about 120 people in the hall.' | Photo: courtesy of Faiths Forum for London

London Quakers were involved in an interfaith hustings last week just nine days before the general election.

The event was organised by Faiths Forum for London, of which Quakers are members. Participants included Labour’s Stephen Timms, former chief secretary to the Treasury; David Burrowes, former MP and from Conservative Christians; and Hina Bokhari, a Lib Dem member of the London Assembly.

London Quaker Fred Ashmore, who is on the Faith Forums council, told the Friend: ‘Timms said in response to my question “Will Labour repeal the Illegal Migration Act 2023?”: “Yes, Labour will repeal the act.” That was a good thing to hear. It’s not in the manifesto, though. He also repeated the manifesto commitment that Labour will act to clear the backlog of people in asylum limbo – currently several tens of thousands.’

On the issue of faith, Hina Bokhari was ‘emphatic about the importance of investing in the young and education in the areas of faith, and making young people faith-literate’, added Fred. ‘David Burrowes said that we definitely needed dialogue [within the faith community], and talking and doing things together. He also said that the model for the pandemic of faith groups working together was admirable, and he wanted to see more of that happening.’

During the event at St Martin-in-the-Fields on 26 June, Fred Ashmore said he was pleasantly surprised by the tone and level of debate. ‘It was an interesting, respectful and well-attended event. There must have been about 120 people in the hall. I thought all the candidates were engaging and thoughtful on serious subjects that need really serious attention.’

Elsewhere, Rebecca WalkerWoo, climate justice lead for Britain Yearly Meeting (BYM), has looked at how the manifestos of each major political party fit with Quaker calls for climate justice. BYM is focusing on three key areas for climate justice in this general election, she outlined. These are: phasing out fossil fuels; committing to and investing in a just transition to a sustainable economy (such as renewable energy and home insulation); and establishing new sources of finance for the international loss and damage fund. This could be through taxing fossil fuel giants, she said. ‘Three out of six of the manifestos include references to climate-induced loss and damage: the SNP, Green Party and Liberal Democrats.’

The in-depth analysis can be read on the Quakers in Britain website. The Faith for the Climate general election webpage includes information on building support for future climate and nature bills, and tools to research local candidates and climate action.

Editor’s note: last week we pledged to try to speak to Quaker candidates from each major political party. Alas only Paul Dawson of the Green Party added to our interview of Tania Mathias. This is available on our website.

You need to login to read subscriber-only content and/or comment on articles.