Responding to the Conservative manifesto

28 November 2019

The Conservative manifesto, released over the weekend, contains no policy proposals on liberalising abortion, gender self-declaration, or no-fault divorce. This sets the Conservatives apart from the other two main parties, both of which have extreme proposals on abortion and gender self-declaration, and both of which propose to introduce unilateral destruction of families through no-fault divorce.

Same-Sex Marriage Precedent

While the Conservative manifesto makes no mention of proposals on these issues, it must be remembered that the Conservative Party introduced same-sex marriage in 2013 without having mentioned it in the manifesto of 2010. Having no manifesto commitment does not therefore rule out a Conservative government pursuing these destructive policies. The 2019 manifesto makes no commitment to strengthen or to liberalise laws on abortion, gender recognition, or divorce. Individual candidates should be questioned about which way they would vote if these issues come up in the next parliament.

Free Speech

The Conservative Party is also the only one of the three major parties not to have formally adopted the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims proposed definition of Islamophobia. This definition is problematic because it will inhibit free speech in relation to criticism of Islamic beliefs and practices.

The Conservative manifesto makes an explicit commitment to “strengthen academic freedom and free speech in universities” (p37) and to defend freedom of expression (p20). There are no similar commitments in the Labour or Lib Dem manifestos.

The persecution of Christians

Page 53 of the Conservative manifesto contains a promise to implement the recommendations of the Truro Review. This refers to an independent review by the Bishop of Truro, Rt Rev. Philip Mounstephen, into the extent and nature of worldwide Christian persecution. The interim report recommends many productive policies and actions that the UK government could take to reduce the persecution of Christians worldwide.

The review was first commissioned by the Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP (Conservative), then Foreign Secretary, so it is no surprise to see it taken forward into the Conservative manifesto. Nevertheless, they are the only party to explicitly do so, and other parties are less tied to implementing the recommendations.

In the same paragraph, the Conservative Party announced its intention to hold the government’s first ever international LGBT conference. Sadly this indicates the intention of the Conservatives to continue to promote and support the anti-family LGBT agenda worldwide.

‘Little commitment to upholding marriage and protecting lives’

Andrea Williams, Chief Executive of Christian Concern commented:

“The Conservative manifesto does not contain extreme policy proposals on abortion and gender issues as Labour and Lib Dem manifestos do. This is encouraging, but there are also no commitments not to further liberalise the laws in these areas.

“In recent years, the Conservative Party has shown very little commitment to upholding traditional marriage or protecting vulnerable lives. Previously the party has shown itself to be an advocate for no-fault divorce, devaluing marriage and family – the building blocks of society. It has also weakened parental rights on relationships and sex education, leaving very young children vulnerable to confusing and harmful ideologies pushed by LGBT groups. With the passing of same-sex marriage in 2013, the party has shown that it cannot be trusted not to bring forward liberal policies that were not in the manifesto.”

“Conservative candidates should be questioned about their views and voting intentions on these issues. It is likely that they will come before parliament whoever wins the general election.

“The Conservative Party has shown by its refusal to adopt the APPG definition of Islamophobia that it is committed to free speech. We welcome the commitments in the manifesto to defend freedom of expression. Free speech is under threat in this country as street preachers are arrested, and police investigate ‘hate speech’ incidents. Candidates should be questioned about how they propose to defend free speech as no concrete policy proposals are provided.

“The extreme proposals of Labour and Lib Dems on abortion, gender recognition, and divorce raise real questions about whether Christians can vote for these two parties. Christians should follow their consciences as they consider who to vote for in this election, and quiz the individual candidates for their views on these important issues.”

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