by Angus Macdonald SOME 18 of the new MPs in the House of Commons have confirmed their support for the aims of the Movement for Christian Democracy (MCD) the lobbying group founded in 1990 by Catholic MPs David Alton and Kenneth Hargreaves to promote Christian values in politics.
The new MPs including eight Catholics come from all three of the main parties, and include such prominent parliamentarians as Charles Kennedy, president of the Liberal Democrats, and James Pawsey, Conservative MP for Rugby and Kenilworth and chair of the Conservative backbench education committee. David Alton, who was re-elected with a 2,606 majority, remains as a driving force behind the lobby group and its parliamentary sponsor. Other Catholic MPs to put their names to the MCD programme are John Battle, Lawrence Cunliffe, Derek Enright, Bob Parry and John Hume.
One well-known figure who is not among the 18 is Kenneth Hargreaves co-founder of the MCD with David Alton who lost his seat as Conservative MP for Hyndburn in Lancashire to fellow Catholic Greg Pope.
"We're obviously very sad that Ken has lost his seat, but it means that he will now be able to spend more time putting greater energy into the movement," MCD general secretary Christopher Graffius told the Catholic Herald. Mr Hargreaves will continue as elected vice-chair of the movement.
Mr Graffius went on to welcome the parliamentary boost offered by the new MPs. "It means that our support in the House of Commons increases ninefold!" he said. "1 am particularly delighted that it comes from a cross-section of the parties. The movement now has an opportunity to make a real difference."
Mr Graffius stressed that a great opportunity had been created by the small majority of the new administration. "The government won't be able to be so doctrinaire about legislation because for the first time in 20 years it won't have a 120-scat majority. That means groups such as ours can lobby more effectively," he said.
Mr Graffius also laid out the areas the movertitrif plans to target in the coming parliament. "We hope to address the position of the elderly within society, as well as initiating a campaign on homelessness," he said.
Other issues the movement hopes to concentrate on in the immediate future include recent developments in Russia and Romania.
Mr Graffius said he hoped the movement could now expand its lay membership and appealed for "Christians in the pews" to join. up.