This is one of a series of articles in which representatives of the main parties make their pitch for the Catholic vote.
In an ideal world, there would be a simple choice for Catholics at general elections. A party would present itself which married economic justice and social tradition. It would be committed to human flourishing, promising a politics of the common good and individual conscience. There would be a guarantee of a level playing field for all, with excessive wealth and power kept in check.
This party would have encouraging things to say about the role of the family and the importance of respecting the dignity of human life from conception to natural death. It would be passionate about international development, environmental stewardship and seeking peace in the troubled corners of the world.
Alas, Catholics have no such luxury. We are presented with an imperfect choice. There are good people across British politics and positive aspects in all their manifestos. Ultimately, however, the British system requires our parties to be agglomerations of opinion, appealing to the largest cross-section of the electorate. They are guaranteed to disappoint the pure of heart.
While you may be lucky enough to be represented by someone committed to Catholic teaching, the chances are you will find yourself having to decide if you are one of the “values voters” common in America, for whom the personal views of the candidate are paramount, or whether to vote on the basis of a party’s policies and broad direction of travel.
For most British Catholics, this dilemma has seen them opt for the latter. The British Religion in Numbers (Brin) programme at the University of Manchester shows that Catholics consistently support Labour in overwhelming numbers. This peaked at the 2001 general election, with three-fifths voting for Tony Blair. Even at the last election in 2015, 41 per cent of Catholics backed Labour, although Ed Miliband won just 30 per cent of the popular vote.
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