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Andrew Graystone is a theologian and writer who is running against Tommy Robinson to be a North West MEP. In this interview with Premier's Cara Bentley, Andrew explains why he believes standing for ChangeUK is an outworking of his Christian faith
What's it been like on the doorstep campaigning?
My experience is that an awful lot of people are tired of the way politics has been going and the state that it's in. A lot of people don't have much patience for the way that the Westminster parties have handled things. Some just want Brexit to be over and done with. Other people are very anxious about what it's going to do to British society.
Why should people vote for Change UK instead of Lib Dem or other remain candidates. What policies make you different?
One of the things that Brexit has uncovered is that there's a fault line running through the middle of British society. And it's not based on class, income or race. It's based on a fear of the future and a fear of other people. People who are not like us, people who are different. And that fault line has clearly run through the old parties and divided them.
What we're trying to do is to build bridges, rather than walls. Whether we stay in the European Union for another five weeks, or five months or five years or longer, we're still need to go going to need good relationships with our neighbors, in Europe and beyond. And the only way to do that is to build bridges of friendship and cooperation. We've had an awful lot of 'the politics of the clenched fist', what we're trying to develop is 'the politics of the open hand' instead.
Are you not worried that you'll split the vote with a Lib Dem or a remain Labour candidate?
Actually, that's not what I've been hearing. What I'm seeing is that we're actually growing that vote because there are people who might vote for Change UK, who want to see things differently, but don't want to support any of the old parties, including the Labour Party, which is very divided. And if the Liberal Democrats were going to provide a solution to the Brexit problem, we'd have been hearing much more from them in the last three years than we have. My hope is that we will grow the vote and people who just want to see something different and new and fresh, will come to Change UK.
You're standing against Tommy Robinson from the English Defence League. Is that right?
Yes one of the key issues of this election is that we're seeing parties from the far right base themselves around fear. Tommy Robinson is standing on a platform of fear and separation. And we also have a Brexit party standing and UKIP - all of whom are saying we want this country to go it alone in the world. It's been important for me to take a stand and say, as a Christian, actually, we're all about collaboration, we're all about working together. In order to be patriotic, in order to love your own country, you don't have to hate everybody else's country. In order to work for a better society all of us has to have to prosper, and not just a few.
Does your Christian faith influence your politics?
Absolutely. My Christian faith is absolutely primary. It comes before and ahead of any kind of political commitments that I have. Working in politics is an outworking of my Christian faith. And for every Christian that involves compromise. What you can't do as a Christian is throw up your hands and say, 'Well, nothing can be done. They're all the same. We will retreat into our own little huddle.' What you have to do, I believe, as a Christian, is you have to throw yourself into the mess and the muddle of ordinary mainstream secular politics, and see if you can find God and see if you can work with God there. Now, I'm not saying Change UK is God's party. But it is a party that I think represents new hope and the will for collaboration and working together, rather than working against each other.
Andrew Graystone was speaking to Premier's Cara Bentley. To hear from Christian candidates in all the main parties, listen to Premier Christian Radio's The News Hour between 1-2pm on Wednesday. To find out who else is standing in your area, click here
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