Church or Chapel: for whom do we Vote?

This was the great Victorian divide. ‘Church’ referred to membership of and subscription to, the established Church of England. It supposed you were a Tory or Conservative voter. It dominated the shires and was the mainstay of the gentry and aristocracy and their most loyal tenants. They valued order and tradition, cherishing the links with Britain’s past.

‘Chapel’ folk invariably voted Liberal, the party led by William Gladstone, above. Attended by middle class rather than upper class folk, their support lay among the new breed of factory owners, small businessmen and the more aspirational workers. The nonconformists had weathered a century of persecution and another of being side-lined. In Victoria’s reign, they relished their rivalry with the established order. More egalitarian that their Anglican brethren, they did not expect their ministers to hold degrees and allowed their laymen to preach and lead worship. 

Such crisp divides are nearly all gone. Secularism has diminished the Christian constituency; the political parties, while still the recognised heirs of their nineteenth-century forbears, have lost their sectarian bias.

Christian voters today either cherish equality and help for the poor, drawing them leftwards, or prefer traditional values and politically incorrect morality. This draws them towards the right. In this 2017 General Election, Christians must vote for whom they see fit, regardless of their church family’s historic identity.