Alan Craig was the only London Mayoral Candidate from a Christian party. Peter Campbell talks to him about Boris Johnson, giving up personal wealth, and receiving deaths threats from an Islamist group.
“I am convinced that we won’t get Christian values back into public life unless people who are Christians stand up and argue for them. The mainstream politicans mouth words about Christianity but it’s only skin deep. Deep down, the secular authorities are deeply hostile to Christianity.” Councillor Alan Craig, who marketed himself as the ‘Christian Choice’ in the London Mayoral Race, came sixth in the election, losing out to the BNP and the Greens as well as the three major parties.
When talking to him, Craig speaks enthusiastically about the process and experiences of running as a Mayoral candidate. “I thoroughly enjoyed it. It doesn’t bother me whether I’m London Mayor or not, what interests me is what people are talking about, what are the issues because it’s that that has a real impact on the agenda. The big question is ‘how do we do in today’s politics, what the Greens did in the 80s and 90s?”
Would Craig run again for Mayor of London? “I might, well, it’s four years away but I’m not against the idea.” Would he ever run in a general election? “I’m not against it in principal, but we need to sort ourselves out at a council level first.”
Yet already this is a long way from where he started out in the 1970s, as a young affluent businessman who, after a stint in Hong Kong with his own chauffeured Rolls-Royce, returned to England to become Chief Executive of a group of manufacturing companies that employed 2,500 people worldwide. All this before he was 27.
Having converted to Christianity in 1976, Craig spent the next years of his life running a trust centre for young offenders released from prison, almost all of whom came from broken homes. Then, in 2002, he became Britain’s first councillor for a Christian party.
Despite his background and achievements, Craig, now 62 and leader of the Christian Peoples Alliance party, is not particularly concerned about the level of his public standing.
In the Mayoral Election, Craig received just under 120,000 votes overall. Was he pleased with this? “If I’m honest I thought we would get 5%, this time around all of the small parties got squeezed by the Ken and Boris show … the BNP are quite well established, and so any small amount of media coverage available, they got it.”
The inevitable subject of Boris Johnson had to follow. “He [Boris] came in as a national joke, and everyone thought he would slip on banana skins during the election campaign, but he didn’t. Give him a chance.” On a personal level, Craig had a huge amount of respect for Ken. “I was queuing up outside [a conference hosted by Ken] and suddenly this small character with a scarf came through the crowd holding two children, and it was the Mayor of London. Had it been an American Mayor, or the Mayor of Paris, they would have come in with a motorcade, but our Mayor gets off the tube.” On a political level, however, he viewed Ken very differently. “He has become arrogant with power…that is why he is so dangerous.”
Craig, however, opposes plans for a Mosque in Stratford with a capacity of 12,000 worshippers. “I’m not some BNP Islamophobe: Muslims have as much right to mosques as Christians have to churches – that’s freedom of religion and it is essential in a democracy.” The Mosque would be owned and run by a group called Tablighi Jamaat. Alan says “this group have been associated with Richard Reid, the shoe bomber; with two of the 7/7 bombers including Mohammed Siddique Khan; and a number of those arrested after the August 2006 airline terror plot were active members and worshipped at Tablighi Jamaat run Mosques.”
When Craig tried to raise this in his party election broadcast, he was told by the BBC to change his wording. “The authorities are so scared of discussing Islam, whether they’re afraid of bombs or terrorism I don’t know.” In a hearing following the case, the judge ruled that the original format was not libellous.
In November, a video was posted on YouTube titled “In memory of Alan Craig”, sparking much controversy. Craig describes the inclusion of his two daughters, aged 5 and 7, in the film as “completely reprehensible” and said “serious Muslims do not quote the Qur’an as a joke and this means I should take this very seriously.” Will the Mosque be built? “It would be mad, literally mad but there’s no knowing where our government will go. They may think it’s electorally worth their while.”
How does Craig see the future for Party? “Many people tell me ‘Alan, you’re wasting your time. There’s no scope for a Christian Party’, but my guess is I will get re-elected, that we will make progress. But they [Labour] are very angry, and they’re gunning for us. That’s ok, that’s politics.”