Felixstowe clergyman to stand in General Election
A Felixstowe clergyman has today declared he is standing as an independent candidate in the General Election for the Suffolk Coastal constituency – one of the first clergy to do so since the law was changed in 2001. Keith Morris reports.
Rev Philip Young, a former vicar at St Thomas Heigham in Norwich, is calling for a new era of politics where love, peace and justice for all take centre stage.
The long-standing columnist for our sister website Network Norfolk says he is calling for “a revolution of love in our politics so that love and care for each other and for our beautiful planet become the driving force of political decisions.”
He said: “I have learnt during my 64 years of life on earth that love needs to be put at the centre of all that we do as human beings. Love heals us and takes us away from being self-centred to being community centred.’
“On seeking to become Member of Parliament for Suffolk Coastal I would seek to take love into the heart of Westminster and of our country. I want to be part of a debate as to how we can best love our citizens and look after everybody. How can we best look after our green and pleasant land and hand it on in a good condition to future generations,” he said.
Philip has lived in Felixstowe, Suffolk, for the last two years since leaving Norwich. He is now a retired priest in the Church of England and helps out at his local church. He is also a Quaker and a pacifist and believes that to work for a world without war is both worthwhile and desirable. He is also a member of the Franciscan Third Order and seeks to follow the way of Jesus as a Franciscan.
Up until 2001, clergy were disqualified from sitting in the House of Commons and therefore unable to stand for election. The House of Commons (Removal of Clergy Disqualification) Act 2001 removed the disqualifications for clergy. The Act also allowed clergy to sit in other elected bodies including the European Parliament. Some bishops of the Church of England continue to be disqualified, as they sit in the House of Lords as Lords Spiritual.
Philip says his campaign will focus around three issues:
Equality – “There are many poor and disadvantaged people who are struggling with poverty in our country. As an MP I would want to hear particularly from those in Suffolk Coastal who are struggling to heat their houses or feed their families. I would seek to convince people that cutbacks and austerity are hitting the poorest hardest and that more needs to be done to lessen the gap between rich and poor,” he said.
Peace – “I would represent all those who long for a world without war. I believe that Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King have shown us, in our fairly recent history, that non-violent activism can bring about positive and practical change for the good. We have a problem with war and terrorism and we need to be thinking how we can move away from war towards peace.”
The environment – “Suffolk Coastal is a beautiful area and like much of our country very rural and green. I love living here by the sea. Loving and caring for the natural world should be much higher on our list of priorities. Human beings are part of nature and our continued existence depends on us looking after our planet. As an MP I would seek to explore moving the country to be a leader in the Green movement worldwide. Climate change is real and we need radical change to work together in order to protect the environment. Given the right leadership and encouragement we could become pioneers in a Green revolution.”
The other candidates who have already declared they are standing in Suffolk Coastal are: Conservative: Dr Therese Coffey, Labour: Cameron Matthews, Liberal Democrat: James Sandbach, Green: Eamonn O’Nolan.
Philip Young can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Story copyright Network Norfolk.