A NEW REPORT from independent think-tank Theos has shown that religious belief does make a difference to national voting intention. The report says that there has always been a link between religion and party politics, most considerably a noticeable affiliation between Anglicanism and the Conservative Party. The report found a link between regularity of Church attendance, higher among those who are likely to vote Conservative as well as a generational increase in support for the Conservative Party among Catholics.
The report says that religion is a telling indicator of party division, and once stood as its ‘principal source’, way before Peter Pulzer’s comment, “class is the basis of British party politics; all else is embellishment and detail.” The report says: “The persistence of religious cleavages in contemporary political behaviour may be a relic of past political controversies”, and so remains a telling factor of today’s political allegiances among religious groups. The report looks at religious affiliation and voting behaviour between Anglicans, Roman Catholics, Nonconformists, Presbyterians and those with no religious affiliation, stretching from 1959-2010. Among the findings the report also says that Anglicans in non-manual occupations were more likely to support the Conservative Party, whilst their co-religionists in manual occupations gave about equal support to the two largest parties.
Roman Catholics in white-collar employment were slightly more likely to vote Labour than Conservative, whereas the differential in party support was much larger amongst Catholics in manual employment. Among Nonconformists, the report says, those in white-collar work were more likely to support the Conservatives, but, as with Catholics, those in manual work preferred Labour in 2010 by a large margin. According to Professor Linda Woodhead, 33 per cent of self-identifying Anglicans are classed as ‘Non-churchgoing doubters’, the same group of Anglicans mirroring Prime Minister, David Cameron’s faith, which he recently described, quoting Boris Johnson, as “a bit like the reception for Magic FM in the Chilterns: it sort of comes and goes”. Meanwhile Labour Leader Ed Miliband described himself as a ‘Jewish Atheist’ and Liberal Democrat Leader, Nick Clegg, as ‘agnostic’.