Sutton's Prominent Tory
The Conservative high command are very keen that Philippa Stroud wins the Sutton and Cheam seat on Thursday. Hers is a much more high profile campaign than that of her neighbour, Ken Andrew, the third-time standing Conservative candidate in Carshalton. So it will be interesting to see if the burghers of Sutton are attracted or repelled by a story in the Observer this morning. The story focuses on Stroud's recent past as an evangelical church founder, who was keen to help congregants 'pray out' their demons, including the demon of homosexuality. There is no doubt that Stroud is a caring person - she "genuinely cares about people" says one disaffected former member of her church, and the quotes provided from her book are not so much judgemental as pitying. It's just that many of her potential voters may find the level of her spiritual campaign against homosexuality, and her willingness to see it as a work of the devil, to be a little too much to bear. A further quote from the book, provided by the Observer, has Stroud recalling the death of a young girl struggling with drink, who choked on her own vomit after a drinking bout. Stroud reflects that, knowing the girls' struggle with changing her lifestyle after conversion, perhaps "God was calling her home". Sutton is in what is sometimes referred to as England's Bible Belt - looks as if the Thursday election really will provide a clash of cultures between secular liberalism and evangelical christianity! Never mind the parties!
Further thoughts on this issue are blogged here.