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Bishops prepare guidance for voters ahead of general election

The General Election will be held in May next year (PA)

The Bishops of England and Wales discussed their guidance for next year’s general election at their plenary meeting in Leeds this week.

The document will not tell voters which party to vote for, but it will urge them not to vote for a party on the basis of a single issue.

At their autumn meeting this week, the bishops discussed the guidance they will offer to Catholic voters next year. A draft has been drawn up and the final document is likely to be released in February.

A spokesman for the bishops said the text will be similar to the statements issued before the general elections in 2005 and 2010. It will include a “general encouragement to participate and vote”, as well as offering guidance on specific issues, including respect for life, “not only for the unborn child but also reiterating our position in regards to assisted suicide”.

In addition, the text will discuss education, marriage and family life, and also immigration.

“Under migration it will be about the human dignity of all,” the spokesman said. “If there was a party that specifically ignored the dignity of migrants then that is something Catholics should consider.”

Although the spokesman insisted that the guidance “is in no way, shape or form party political”, it is likely that some will interpret the bishops’ comments on immigration as a rebuff to Ukip, the party led by Nigel Farage that now attracts one in six voters. A recent opinion poll put Catholic support for the eurosceptic party in double figures and a number of its MEPs are Catholic, including deputy leader Paul Nuttall.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols is expected to discuss the results of the bishops’ plenary meeting at a press conference on Friday.