Sunday, 4 April 2010

Christian Peoples Alliance (CPA) of Newham

For weeks I’ve been agonizing, over whether or not, or should I just send in my voter registration form and be a part of the so-called ‘democratic’ process that’s about to come down like a bat from hell. As an independent non-aligned socialist this has not been an easy decision to make; for one thing there will be no candidates that I could possibly support come polling day here in Newham. And then almost on the very eve of Gordon Brown calling the general election I’ve finally made up my mind to register my vote with the sole purpose of spoiling my ballot paper or rather voting against all the parties of capitalism.

If the election and as expected now is called on the 6 May then that will mean in London we will have in addition, to elect our local councils and in the case of Newham a directly elected Mayor, but more about later on in the week. So as you can see for some of us there will be a lot of paper work or in my case, three ballot papers to spoil.

I received my first election leaflet the other day from the Christian Peoples Alliance (CPA) who hold three seats for Canning Town South, and I presume will be contesting Canning Town North where I live and the parliamentary constituency of West Ham. Now this is a very interesting organisation led by Alan Craig who was first elected a Newham councillor in 2002 and for four years was the only Opposition councillor confronting 59 Labour councillor's but has subsequently been joined by two others making an opposition group of three, and I think I should also say that the last time the full council was up for re-election- Respect won three seats, but have since fallen apart with two Respect councillors now sitting as independents following some sort of a (spat) full-out with George Galloway. I don’t think Respect will be contesting Newham with the same enthusiasm and as it did four years ago, or if at all and when you consider that in Tower Hamlets they have a real fight on their hands and will need all the manpower they can muster to avoid a wipe-out, or at least that’s what I think.

So coming back to the CPA, the party operates all over Great Britain and has fledgling group’s specific to Scotland and Wales. To date, the party has five elected members as town councillors in England, its leader Alan Craig stood for the London mayoral election in 2008 as The Christian Choice, gaining almost 3% of the vote. This was followed up with 249,493 votes at the European Parliament election in 2009, 1.6% of the total. Now Craig is set to run for Newham Mayor his second attempt at it, Craig say's that becoming a Christian in his late twenties, he turned his back on a career in business management, moved to one of England's most deprived areas - Canning Town in east London - and started working with young offenders just out of prison.

                                                        Alan Craig

Speaking for myself I feel a little bit uncomfortable with the CPA as their politics seems to be all things to all people, for instance the headline on the election leaflet demands banning Mephedrone-based Shake n Vac that they've claimed was sold to them over the counter in a high street shop in Newham, it also referred to the two teenage friends (from Scunthorpe) as we reported in a previous post who died following a night out at which the drug was connected, but let us state again because it’s important to do so that we still do not know of any evidence to confirm its role in the deaths of young people who have used it. ‘Linked to’ is not the same as ‘caused’. The other point that needs serious consideration is by banning any particular drug, will it not have the effect of driving it underground, that it will still be obtainable and used possibly with more harmful effects and further fatalities if drug pushers mixed it with other substances as has been the case with heroin. And is banning drugs the way forward or would it not be better to deal with the use of drugs there harmful effects by an adult educational approach, lets just remember that these are young adults not children and they are quite capable of making an informed decision based upon fact and mutual respect, if only the older generation had a little more faith!

One other point that I would like to take up in regard to this election propaganda and the CPA leaflet is the piece about Honour Our Troops, the following is from it:

“Lots of people have been against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But we all honour the brave men and women who fight for Queen and country and put their lives at risk on our behalf.”

This was then rounded off with a quotation from the chairman of (their words) the local branch of the excellent Royal British Legion: “We all fully support the British troops in Afghanistan.”

Now when I say all things to all people, there is no finer more all right, more hunky-dory example than the CPA position on the war, in 2002 they said they were opposed to the wars, but it is not at all clear in this leaflet weather they have changed position and support the continued military deployment or they just support our young people doing an unpleasant job as ordered by the politicians. But the language used is suspect: Queen and county or even what Councillor Alan Craig said at the bottom of the leaflet: “They are brave men and women and we’re proud of them all.”

There is a great deal more that I could say about the CPA but let’s just leave it there for the time being, and as I intend sending a copy of post to them in the hope they make a comment!
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