The Bishop of Derby, the Rt Revd Alastair Redfern, has defended a controversial move to exclude British Independents leader David Gale from a hustings event taking place at a church in Derby. Gale, the Brits’ parliamentary candidate for Derby South, made the headlines when he was excluded from a University of Derby Students’ Union hustings event in 2012, during an election in which he went on to secure 16% of the vote.
Gale said, “It seems bizarre that in an election where the balance of power will be decided by Scottish and Irish voters, the Church is not encouraging its congregation to think outside the box. Individual MPs who are not controlled by the vested interests of the old parties will have huge leverage that will allow them to focus on representing their constituents. It confirms my worst fears that Church of England leaders are little more than another layer of establishment power.”
The Bishop’s office has defended its inclusion of a Green Party candidate despite the party not having stood in Derby in any recent major election. The Greens are forecast by pollsters to have just one MP in 2015. The Church has since declined an invitation to further discuss its stance.
The Bishop of Derby has recently come under fire for his controversial support of Tony Blair after a refusal by Archbishop Desmond Tutu to share a platform with the ex-prime minister. In a letter to the Guardian from Occupy Faith UK, the multi-faith group said: “We therefore view with regret the contrasting Tale of Two Bishops in the recent statement by the Bishop of Derby, Dr Alastair Redfern, that “Tony Blair is not a war criminal” – speaking in his role as chair of the Inter Faith Network for the United Kingdom (of which Occupy Faith UK is a member body). This expensive taxpayer funded body is the national arena for the faith organisations in Britain, and has strongly resisted protests from faith leaders at its decision to admit to full membership the former prime minister’s Tony Blair Faith Foundation.”
Gale said, “I think it is extraordinary that a senior church official and member of the House of Lords is publicly pre-judging the outcome of the Iraq inquiry. Given the public concern about Blair’s role in attacking Iraq, it raises serious questions about the bishop’s impartiality that are strengthened by his refusal to allow a candidate with a proven electoral track record access to a public hustings.”
The hustings event takes place at St Alkmund’s Church, Keddleston Road, Derby, DE22 1GU. Doors open at 6.45pm with the event commencing at 7.30pm on Wednesday 22nd April 2015. Further details of the event are available here.
British Independents’ policies include the removal of Lords Spiritual from automatic selection to the House of Lords: http://www.britishindependents.org/index.php/policies/item/4-parliament
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David Gale | Leader | British Independents | Derby | England | W: www.BritishIndependents.org