Some major gains have been reported today from the London constituency of Ilford South. Phil Butcher, Director of the Commission for Justice and Social Responsibility at the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brentwood, leads a team representing over 2000 people from Catholic and Baptist churches as well as the local Albanian community.
In a difficult constituency which has previously had some BNP presence, Toby Boutle* (Cons) Mike Gapes (Lab) Wilson Chowdhry (Greens) have all readily and without reservation signed the Pledge. We have yet to hear back from the Lib-Dems who have not yet responded to our mails.
By contrast reports from the nearby Brentwood and Ongar constituency, led by Davina Bolt, suggest that Conservative candidate and former MP Eric Pickles has been reluctant to sign.
Asked to give advice to struggling delegations, Revd Butcher stated: "ensure that you have your power base; use whatever power you've got; and don't give up". He added that working on the Sanctuary Pledge has enabled him to "focus on some of the key issues" of relevance to the community.
An accountability meeting has been arranged with Mike Gapes.
* We would like to apologise to Mr Boutle and issue a retraction of comments previously posted in this article that wrongly suggested that he was avoiding discussion of this issue. We are delighted that he has signed the Sanctuary Pledge and are happy to apologise for our error.