Churches Update

The Labour Party's latest Churches Update is now out. Focusing on the General Election, it begins with a message from Labour leader Ed Miliband. Writing about Labour's links with the churches, Ed Miliband comments: 

"As the Leader of the Labour Party I am proud of our movement’s roots in the Christian tradition. That tradition underpins our conviction about the importance of social action and our belief in the power of community transformation. "

The Churches Update also includes contributions from the CEOs of Christian organisations involved in a variety of social action and campaigning, saying what they would like to see from the next government.

The Churches Update can be downloaded here.

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Uk strengthens its covenant with global poor

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‘I am delighted that now after years of campaigning by faith groups and charities a legal commitment has been made to commit 0.7% of GNI as Official Development Assistance. This significant achievement is a cause that was resolutely championed by the Labour Party over recent decades and Labour MPs and Peers played a decisive role in ensuring its success. We have strengthened our covenant with the global poor and many lives will be saved and changed as a result.’ 

 Rt Hon Stephen Timms, Chair of Christians on the Left

 On Monday 9 March 2015 the UK became the first G7 member to enshrine in law its commitment to spending 0.7% on official development assistance. The Official Development Assistance Bill now awaits a date for Royal Assent where the Bill will become an Act of parliament.

Christians on the left is proud that the Bill cleared its final hurdle in the House of Lords and that several of our members championed and actively fought for this. We would like to thank those members, particularly those MPs and Peers who worked so tirelessly to see the 0.7% target enshrined in law.

We would also like to acknowledge the work done by The Labour Campaign For International Development for its commitment to see a world without poverty and injustice. 1 in 4 of the Labour MP’s who voted for the Bill were LCID members or encouraged to attend the vote by LCID.

You can read more about this and the Labour party’s commitment to international development here

You can access the Bill here

You can find out more about the campaign #turnupsavelives and the question of why Aid is needed here

 

 

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Prayer in the square




Show-Upwp.pngSHOW UP - BOOK READING AND PRAYER in PARLIAMENT SQUARE

Thursday 19th March – 4pm to 7pm (prayer 6pm to 7pm)

Please join us in prayer or in person next Thursday. The campaign has been incredibly encouraging. Already we have three members standing for the first time in council elections having been inspired by the SHOW UP video! 

The SHOW UP campaign has had a significant impact in its first few weeks. Its provocative video has caught the imagination of many Christians and has already been shown in many churches. It continues with a call to SHOW UP in prayer for the nation and the coming election. The book of the campaign “Those Who Show Up” by Andy Flannagan explains more of the thinking and stories behind the call to more positive Christian engagement in politics. showup.png.jpg

In the spirit of his book, Andy Flannagan will show up in Parliament Square on Thursday 19th March (come hail or high water) and read it. He will start at 4pm, finishing at 6pm and then in keeping with the last section of the book, the 6pm to 7pm slot will be a corporate time of prayer for the nation and the 2015 General Election.

Please consider coming to support Andy for a half hour slot (or longer) at some point between 4pm and 7pm. 

If you can’t make it down, then please join with us in prayer at 6pm from wherever you are. This prayer may be helpful.

GOD OF ALL GOVERNMENT

God of all Government,
Send workers into the harvest field of political life.
Call your people. Not simply those who pay you lip service,
But those who hear your voice and know your name,

Those who will not serve two masters,
Those who will choose kingdom over tribe,
Those who are not ashamed of the gospel,
Those who will speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,

Those who will seek justice, encourage the oppressed, defend the cause of the fatherless, and plead the case of the widow,
Those who will seek to reconcile more than separate,
Those who will seek to co-operate more than compete,
Those who will seek peace more than power.

Those who will choose your glory over self-promotion,
Those who will choose truth over expediency,

Those who will listen to the still, small voice more than the megaphone of the media,
Those who will care for the least of these, rather than genuflect to the greatest.

Those who find their identity and security in divine election more than election by man,

Those whose citizenship is in heaven, and whose primary allegiance is to another King,

Those who cannot help but speak of the reason for the hope that they have,
Those who know your grace for their failings. 

Call out an army that will march on its knees in humility
To fight not just with the weapons of this world
But the invisible ammunition of your Kingdom.
 
AMEN

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A welcome for the religious liberty commission

80% of all acts of religious discrimination across the world are aimed at Christians (Statistics from the International Society for RLC.pngHuman Rights). The coverage of the acts of Isil in Iraq and Boko Haram in Nigeria in recent months has brought the suffering of many Christians across the world back into the public realm. In response it seems that persecution is receiving oppportunity for an increased representation in our political institutions with the introduction of the Religious Liberty Commission on the 4th February and the recent promises from Douglas Alexander (shadow foreign secretary) that a Labour government would introduce a global faith envoy to bring a 'strong focus' to persecuted faith.

The Religious Liberty Commission has been set up by Open Doors, Release International and Christian Solidarity Worldwide. The key aim in setting up the organisation has been to provide one voice for organisation tackling the persecution of Christians across the world.

Douglas Alexander has also pledged that a Labour Government would introduce a global faith envoy, accusing the Government of Douglas_Alexander_1398729i.jpg'stepping back' in its efforts to tackle religious persecution. He did also say though that 'this is an issue beyond party politics' and that he would support the coalition Government if it implemented these plans and took a stronger stance.

The Bible tells us to love our brothers and sisters in faith and it is fundamental that the plights of the persecuted remain in our prayers. As we further spread word of the 'show up' campaign in the lead up to this election it also important that we encourage opportunities for the persecuted church to be represented in UK politics. We can also be excited at the fact this is already beginning with the Religious Liberty Commission and it is a cause for celebration in giving the work of amazing organisations tackling persecution a clear format to have a single clear message.

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Show Up - The Book

TWSU.jpgWe've been delighted by the response to the Show Up campaign. Churches up and down the country, from Lairg to Lizard via Lambeth Palace, have been showing the video and sharing the resources.

As part of the campaign, Andy has written a brilliant book which can now be ordered online. 

This book won’t try to get you to vote for a particular party. It isn’t going to try to get you to vote at all. Something far better.

It’s going to show you that you could be voted for. That it could be your name on the ballot paper. Or that you could be working with someone whose name is, influencing your community more than you ever imagined.

From food banks to debt counselling, soup vans to street pastors, the church is doing an amazing job treating the victims of a flawed system. But it’s never going to be enough. Unless we also get involved in the decision-making process.

God cares deeply about the heart of our state, as well as the state of our hearts. And, as Bart Simpson once famously discovered, the vote is won – and history is made, and the kingdom advanced – by those who show up.


What People Are Saying

Andy is reaching out, inspiring and equipping us to become engaged with a system that affects us deeply, and through which we in turn can effect radical and transformational change across our society.  -  Justin Welby

Andy’s passion, biblical insight and story-telling ability will convince even the most sceptical that they could and should be more than mere commentators on politics. - Gary Streeter MP

A book that powerfully challenges our misconceptions about politics and asks us not to stand on the side lines and moan but to get involved. - Patrick Regan OBE, Founder & CEO, XLP

Books about politics can often be worthy yet a little dull. This is far from the case with Those Who Show Up. Andy wears his humour and heart on his sleeve and by the end I would be surprised if you aren’t signing up. - Tim Farron MP

At a time when too many have given up on politics, Andy Flannagan issues a compelling clarion call for the churches to grasp the opportunity to serve.  In my work, I see no group or network better placed to do so.  And he is right: there is the opportunity for our politics to be transformed, and for democracy to be renewed.Stephen Timms MP

Andy is a poet, a troubadour, and a master storyteller.  His words are like incense, rising out of the muck and pain and poetry of the margins…Shane Claiborne

Christians cannot stand on the sidelines any longer where politics is concerned! We need to get actively and prayerfully involved to see transformation in our communities and Nation. It is when we show up and engage with our world  that we can influence what happens in our Nation and pray His Kingdom Come. I recommend this book as a prophetic call to engage.Dr Jonathan Oloyede, Convenor of the National Day of Prayer and Worship

 

If you want to pre-order the book, then you can do that right here.

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The battle to end inequality

As the World economic forum’s annual summit draws to a close, Oxfam have released a report including staggering new statistics concerning economic inequality. The charity states that the share of the world’s wealth owned by the best off 1% has increased from 44% in 2009 to 48% in 2014. John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York and Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury have oxfam_logo.jpgalso warned that economic growth pursued maniacally has increased inequality, which has to be tackled.

Oxfam made similar statements last year ahead of the Davos summit, but the situation has only got worse. It seems that although wealth inequality may have moved up the political agenda effective action has not been taken. Furthermore, Oxfam’s report also indicates a rising use of money in lobbying government – especially in the United States where lobbying is concentrated largely on tax issues which ‘can directly undermine public interests’ (Oxfam report). 

Winnie Byanyima (Executive director, Oxfam international) will be attending the annual meeting in Davos and in a report points out that “across rich and poor countries alike, this inequality is fuelling conflict, corroding democracies and damaging growth itself”. Evidently, wealth inequality in its extreme is detrimental to society and must change: emphasised further by the extent this money leads to political power: $50bn is spent by the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry on lobbying each year in the EU (data from Oxfam report). 

If trends continue, inequality is only set to increase across the world. Oxfam predict that by 2016 the top 1% will have more than 50% of total global wealth, as figures also suggest the wealth of those at the bottom will decrease. The effects of inequality are also highlighted in Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson’s book ‘the spirit level: Why more equal societies almost always do better’ where it shows that for 11 key health/social problems (physical health, mental health, drug abuse, education, imprisonment obesity, social mobility, trust and community life, violence, teenage pregnancies and child well being) outcomes are significantly worse in unequal countries. Inequality impacts every aspect of society negatively, clearly something needs to be done to reverse it, quickly. 

In terms of the UK, statistics have also been released today that for every 12 jobs created in the South 1 is lost in the North. Economic divides are regional too, and inequality exists in every neighbourhood.  As Christians we can work to support those that are struggling in our communities and try and bridge the gap between the rich and poor through the church. 

These facts are also particularly poignant in the wake of the launch of the ‘Show up’ campaign last Tuesday. This campaign is focused on getting Christians actively involved in influencing politics. As Christians, we are called to see ‘justice flow like a river’ (Amos 5:24), the current economic system is simply not delivering this and we need to affect change. Wealth is accumulated by the same few people, and power is concentrated among them – at the expense of everyone else.

Helping those suffering in our communities is important, influencing change is increasingly important, and getting on board with the ‘show up’ campaign is just one way we can attempt to change the political climate –  determined ever more by statistics such as those released today, and enthused by the work of charities such as Oxfam that have a voice for the poor to the highest political positions In the world. 

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Election 2015 #showup

The Evangelical alliance has put together a hub for all things election related. This is a really helpful resource, looking at why we should vote, how to register and why as Christians we should show up. It also contains links to the political parties and how to images.jpgorganise a hustings.  http://election2015.eauk.org/

You can also find information about Show Up Sunday, 25 January where churches across the UK are being asked to get on-board with Show Up and take a few minutes to play the Show Up video and talk about why it's important for Christians to vote in the upcoming election and participate in the political process.  For more information about #Show Up you can also check out http://www.christiansontheleft.org.uk/show_up_a_sneak_peak  on the Christians on the left website. 

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Show Up - a sneak peak

 

showup.pngWe are delighted to be part of the SHOW UP campaign which is gathering steam across the UK. You may have already seen the excellent campaign video. If not, you can watch it below. You can also find more resources for the campaign by visiting this website

 

 

The book of the campaign is called “Those who show up”, written by our director Andy, and here we can let you see a sneak peak sample of it. You can get hold of the whole thing from http://muddypearl.com/books/those-who-show-up/

 

 

SHOW UP 

In the second series of the animated TV show ‘The Simpsons’ there is a fascinating episode called “Lisa’s Substitute”. It includes an amusing subplot set in her brother Bart’s classroom in which he and his classmates must elect a class president. Their teacher Mrs. Krabappel nominates the outstanding pupil Martin, while Sherri and Terri nominate the less-than-outstanding Bart. During a ‘Presidential Debate’ Bart tells a series of infantile jokes which win the support of his classmates, much to the disgust of Martin who wants to focus on ‘the issues’. Bart is buoyed by the frenzied adulation like a teenage pop sensation. The groundswell is so overwhelming that Bart is obviously going to win by a landslide. He is in fact so confident of his victory that he does not even bother to vote. However his huge confidence has spread to his wide-eyed followers, who similarly do not feel the need to turn up at the ballot box. In fact the only kids who do vote are Martin (who votes for himself) and Wendell Borton (who also votes for Martin). Nobody had predicted that the kid famed for his nerdiness and nausea would be the king-maker!

The point here is not whether Bart should have been elected class president. This is not Florida and the year is not 2000. The point is also not whether Bart would have made a better class president than Martin (I think you may know the answer to that one). The point is that the firmly held opinions of Bart’s classmates counted for nothing because they did not ‘show up’. There is a difference between holding an opinion and actually expressing it. Then there is a further difference between just expressing that opinion out into the ether, and formally standing by it in something like an election. You can wish me ‘Happy Birthday’ on Facebook all you like, but it will mean an awful lot more to me if you actually show up at my party in person. One action takes three tenths of a second and the other takes considerably longer. Much of our modern-day campaigning is effectively ‘cost-free’. We click and share a good cause and that’s that. This book is about the intriguing discipleship and adventure that happens when what we believe starts to cost us something in terms of time, effort or reputation. Sorry – I hope you weren’t expecting a slick sales pitch. 

‘Hang on, is this another book telling me how important it is to vote?’ Actually no. I can already hear you saying, “But there isn’t anyone I want to vote for – I am equally unimpressed with all of the parties”. Tell me about it. No, this isn’t another book trying to convince you to do that. It isn’t trying to get you to vote. It’s going to suggest that you could be voted for. It’s going to suggest that it could be your name on the ballot paper. Or that you could be helping someone whose name is. It’s going to suggest that in one small way, Bart Simpson could be your role model for life. 

People all over the UK are unimpressed with politics and politicians. This book will delve into some of the reasons for this, but hopefully also point in the direction of some remedies. The passion expressed in the Scottish referendum campaign shows that people do care about how their countries and communities are run. The question is will we allow those thoughts to recline as mere opinions, or will we let them take a stand? All of us know the frustration of harbouring an opinion but feeling unable to express it meaningfully. In home or work contexts it usually leads to a lot of bitterness and resentment. As a nation (and especially as the church) we are in danger of sliding in that direction unless we break out of the mindset that we will simply always be the commentators, and not the participants. 

THOSE WHO SHOW UP 

No-one seems to be certain who first coined the famous phrase, “Decisions are made by those who show up”. Its potential authors include a range of people from former US Presidents to movie-maker Woody Allen, and it was popularised by its use in the American TV show “The West Wing”.

But whoever first uttered the phrase, it is hard to argue with. Throughout history, history has been made by those who show up. Decisions ARE made by those who show up. Not necessarily by the smartest, not necessarily by the most qualified, not necessarily by those of the best character, not necessarily by those who may have gleaned some divine wisdom, but by those who like Wendell Borton simply show up. It is sobering, but perhaps also empowering. You don’t need outrageous gifting to show up. You just need a body. 

The same is true throughout the stories of scripture. Yes, at times God moves in miraculous invisible ways, but much more frequently he moves through one or more of his unremarkable people who seem to be in the right ordinary place at the right time. The CVs of Gideon, Moses, or Rahab were not exactly screaming out for their respective jobs. They just showed up in obedience.

Where do people ‘show up’? I hear you cry. They show up in a variety of places which may not always be obvious. They show up at local residents’ meetings. They show up at parents’ associations. They show up at safer neighbourhood groups. They show up at town council meetings. They show up at political party branch meetings. You may well be one of them.

You see the places that these people show up are not the fun places. These places generally involve chairpersons, secretaries, treasurers and minutes. These places are generally dusty old halls. These places don’t have Welcome teams with Fairtrade coffee, doughnuts and biscuits, and even if they manage a biccie, it’ll probably just be a Rich Tea.

But these people run the world (in the macro and the micro). There are some seriously hard yards to do. There is a lot of tiresome, repetitive work that is non-negotiable. And to get to elevated positions these people have been often been showing up at some pretty dull meetings for a long time. But we rarely think about that because we usually only know about them once they’ve got to ‘the top’.

When we reflect on history we do remember those who showed up, but our focus tends to be on the endpoints rather than the starting points. We forget that in between forming an opinion and transformation occurring a lot of hard work happened. The civil rights movement didn't just believe racism was wrong. They showed up. The Suffragettes didn't just believe women should have the right to vote. They showed up. But it cost them. We don’t often read about all the meetings that paved the way for those mass movements. And there were many of them. (but they don’t make great movies.)

For example here is a summary of the minutes of the very first meeting of a campaign group (even the word ‘minutes’ has you dropping off doesn't it?)

  • They decided that the current law was bad and that the committee’s main aim was to persuade other people of that fact, mostly by producing publications
  • They decided who could be on the committee and that the Quorum would be 3 members – i.e. the minimum number who had to be present for a meeting to count.
  • They chose one of the group to be Treasurer but then said he couldn’t spend any money unless the whole committee said he could.
  • They agreed to announce what they had decided, then ask other people to join and send money. 

Then they adjourned and went for a drink.  In fact I could still take you to that very pub. It didn’t exactly feel like a dramatic start.  But these were the minutes of the first meeting on 22nd May 1787 of what would become the London Abolition Committee whose aim was to make the slave trade illegal. You can sit in the British Library holding those minutes, reading the original record book. There is no getting away from the fact that the meetings sounded quite dull. But year by year, through the leadership of folks like William Wilberforce, Olaudah Equiano and Thomas Clarkson, the campaign gathered steam, until eventually on 1st May 1807 the law outlawing the slave trade took effect. I think we can agree that even though it took twenty years, it was worth showing up at that first meeting. 

My hope and prayer is that this book will encourage you to ‘SHOW UP’ as they did. 

 

 

The SHOW UP campaign arose from a conversation between Christians in Politics and the Evangelical Alliance. It is now a growing coalition including the following organizations; the Church of England, Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, National Day of Prayer, Catholic Social Action Network, Christian Aid, TearFund, Spring Harvest, CARE, The Cinnamon Network, Premier Radio, Catholic Education Service, United Christian Broadcasters, Christian Aid, Bible Society, Conservative Christian Fellowship, Christians on the Left, Liberal Democrat Christian Forum, Christians in Parliament, Fusion, FaithAction, The Salvation Army, Centre for Theology and Community, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Open Doors, Release International, Kirby Laing Institute For Christian Ethics, JustLove, Jubilee Centre, Jubilee+, and the Joint Public Issues Team.

 

 

 

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Ed Miliband launches Labour's election campaign

Just now in Salford, Ed Miliband launched the Labour Party's campaign for the general election. Below, you can read what he had to say. If you have any thoughts on it, start a conversation at the bottom of this page.

 

Thank you Amina and thank you Narveshwar, Claire, Amman, Adrian and Sarah for those amazing stories.

The five people we have just heard from are why we are here today to launch our campaign for the general election.

Each of them remind us that we’re here not just to fly the flag of our Party, because in 2015, a victory for our Party is not nearly enough.

We’re fighting for something much bigger.

We’re fighting for a Britain where every day working people are properly rewarded once again.

We’re fighting for a Britain where every young person, whatever their background, can begin their working lives with a future that promises to be better, not worse, than their parents’.

We’re fighting for a Britain where everyone plays by fair rules, including the most powerful like energy companies and the banks.

We’re fighting for a Britain that deals with its debts responsibly, without shredding our NHS and vital public services.

We’re fighting for a true recovery and real, enduring prosperity that extends to the kitchen tables of all working families across Britain.

We’re fighting to be the kind of country that we all know we have it in ourselves to be.

More just, more equal and more prosperous.

And we’re going to fight that fight in the right way.

We will offer hope, not falsehoods.

We know the depths of our values matter more than the depth of our opponents’ pockets.

We will win this election, not by buying up thousands of poster sites, but by having millions of conversations.

I am going to be leading those conversations in village halls, community centres, workplaces right across the country, starting this very week and every week from now until the election.

I want you to be doing the same.

This year we will be making our case, explaining our vision, house by house, street by street, town by town.

Our campaign is setting the goal of holding four million conversations with people in just four months about how we change our country.

That is almost twice the number we’ve ever done before.

It is more than any British political party has ever done before.

And in every single one of those conversations, we will be talking directly with people on their doorstep.

And we will be reminding people what is at stake:

In this election there is a choice not just between parties but between two competing visions of how our country can succeed.

A Tory plan that believes we can succeed with just a few at the top doing well.

Or a plan – Labour’s plan for Britain’s future – that puts working people first.

1. The Tory Failure

For five years, the Tories have shown us their idea.

If we just strip the Government to its bare bones, give in to the powerful interests and give huge tax cuts to the very wealthiest, then all of Britain will somehow benefit.

And judging from what David Cameron said last week, they really think it has been a great success.

But that tells you all you need to know about what they think success looks like.

Because think about what has actually happened.

Millionaires have reaped huge benefits from the Tory plan.

There is no doubt about that.

But working people in our country are worse off.

Much worse off.

For the first time since the 1920s, working people will be worse off at the end of a government than they were at the beginning.

Zero hour contracts have exploded, driving wages down across our country, and have allowed some firms to play havoc with people’s lives.

The energy companies have doubled the profit they make from each family and the average bill has gone up £300 a year.

And most inexcusable is the shortchanging of the greatest hope for our future, our children, who this Government is failing to prepare for the challenges of the 21st Century.

At a time when education and training are critical to the chances of earning a decent wage—and to the long-term success of our country– tuition fees have trebled and apprenticeships for young people are actually falling.

And they call all of that a success.

We’re a country of food banks and bank bonuses.

A country where social mobility goes backwards and privilege is rewarded.

Where millionaires have had their taxes cut and millions pay more.

And they call that a success.

Well, I don’t.

And the British people don’t either.

And think what has happened to our NHS.

Longer to wait to see your GP.

Longer to wait in A&E.

Longer to wait for an operation.

An NHS without time to care.

The Tories have damaged the NHS in these five years.

Give them five more and the NHS as we know it just won’t be there.

Well, we won’t let that happen.

They’ve even failed on the one thing they claim to care about most.

The deficit.

David Cameron promised to eliminate the deficit by 2015.

Well, 2015 is now here.

And so is the deficit.

And the deficit is still here for a very simple reason: because it turns out if you depress wages and lack any real economic plan other than tax cuts for the wealthy, it doesn’t just fail working people, it fails to balance the books.

So this Tory experiment has been tried.

And the verdict is in.

By the measures of household budgets, prospects for our children, preserving the most vital public services and dealing with our nation’s debts, the Tory experiment has failed.

Theirs is not a record to run on.

Theirs is a record to run from.

And what is their plan for the next five years?

We learnt that on Friday.

More of the same.

Keep driving along the road to nowhere.

But press down on the accelerator.

Imagine what another five years would mean for you and your family.

The Tories telling you about the good economic news.

But you and your family not having enough to pay the bills at the end of each month.

The Tories telling you that there has never been more opportunity for young people.

But your son or daughter can’t afford to go to university and the only other option is a zero hours job.

The Tories telling you there is a housing boom.

But you not being able to afford a home of your own.

The Tories telling you that the NHS has been protected.

But you not being able to get your operation in time, and the only choice on offer is to go private.

And it’s not just short-term calamities that their policies will wreak.

It’s the long-term impact on our country, as well.

As sure as night follows day, an economy built on the success of a few will never prosper for long.

Britain can do better than this.

Britain must do better than this.

And Britain will do better than this.

2. Labour’s Plan for Britain’s Future

And we will show in the coming months that it doesn’t need to be this way.

Our plan is based on one simple truth – a truth so different from the Tories’ idea – that when your family succeeds, Britain succeeds too.

That’s why it is a plan that puts working people first.

It is a plan that makes real those principles that I talked about at the start.

The principles we’re fighting for.

It is a plan that says that all those who go out to work are as important and valuable to our country as those who get the six figure bonuses.

That means raising the minimum wage to over £8 an hour and dealing with the scandal of zero hour contracts.

It means supporting the wealth creating businesses of the future, in Green industries, that create those good jobs that reward hard work.

In an era of hard choices, it means putting cuts in business rates for small firms that will create most of the jobs of the future, ahead of further tax cuts for large corporations.

Ours is a plan also that says there is nothing more important for our country than opportunities for the young.

We are told by this Government that they are pro-business.

Yet we know that our country is hundreds of thousands short of the number of engineers businesses demand.

And we see this problem throughout our economy: well paid jobs, gone wanting, for people who have the necessary education and training to fill them.

So we will have a revolution in vocational education, so that as many young people leave school to do an apprenticeship as currently go to university.

This, and not slashing wages, is how you win the jobs of the future.

Britain won’t succeed with a Tory race to the bottom.

We need to run a race to the top.

And under a Labour government Britain will win that race.

Our plan is a plan that says that everyone should play by fair rules, and the most powerful interests in our country should be held to account.

Businesses large and small are the lifeblood of our economy.

But the banks and the energy companies have had things their way for too long and need to serve Britain properly.

We will require these businesses to operate in a competitive way, and Britain—all of Britain—will be the better for it.

No more broken markets that work for a few but undermine our economy.

And ours is a plan that will preserve our most vital public services.

Knowing that our NHS is our nation’s greatest treasure, to be protected and nurtured for generations to come.

A guaranteed GP appointment within 48 hours.

A one-week wait for cancer tests.

And a £2.5 billion Time To Care fund to support more midwives, care workers, doctors and nurses.

Yes, assuring decent, timely health care has a cost.

And that’s why we have proposed a Mansion Tax for the very richest to protect and improve the NHS for our entire country.

Something the Tories would never do.

Because we believe that those with the broadest shoulders should bear the greatest burden.

And that is just one example of our plan making different choices than this Government.

And it is by making different choices that we will deal with the deficit responsibly and still meet the obligations to our country’s future.

Ours is a plan to cut the deficit every year and balance the books as soon as possible in the next parliament.

And until that happens it does mean, outside protected areas, spending will be falling, not rising, department by department.

With no proposals in our manifesto funded by additional borrowing.

Not a single one.

Those of us who believe that government has a positive role to play in our nation’s future, know we have a special obligation:

To challenge government to do its work and deliver its services in innovative and more cost-effective ways.

Showing we can do more with less, just like great Labour councils are doing across the country.

Making better decisions, making sure that every pound really counts.

And giving power back to local people.

Ending a century of centralization in our country.

And our plan will also confront other hard truths.

Three million British jobs rest on commerce and trade within the European Union.

Exiting the EU would damage British jobs, British families, British businesses.

I understand the politics that has led the Prime Minister to play risky irresponsible games on the European Union, allowing his party to drift towards exit.

But I won’t.

If you want to know what chaos and a threat to prosperity looks like, just imagine a Tory government riven apart after the next election on Europe.

We must demand reform from Europe—a European Union that works better for Britain.

But make no mistake: exit from the EU would be a dramatic mistake for our country and our economy.

So, whatever the politics, I will not join those who cynically offer exit as a realistic plan for our future or the future of Britain’s working families.

And confronting hard truths extends to the challenge of immigration.

I am the son of immigrants, who came here with nothing.

They benefitted from the opportunities that Britain had to offer and built a life for our family.

And their story is not unique.

For generations, hard-working immigrants, eager to make their way, have helped build our country.

But this party will never again dismiss people’s concerns about immigration.

Britain should not—cannot— close ourselves off from those who can contribute to our economy and our country.

But people want to know that there are fair rules.

Fair rules so that benefits should be earned, so people must contribute before they claim.

And fair rules to prevent businesses from recruiting at slave wages, exploiting migrant labour to undercut pay and conditions.

So this is our plan:

Rewarding hard work and tackling the cost of living crisis.

Providing education and opportunity for all our young people, upon whom Britain’s future relies.

Fair rules for everyone in our country, from top to bottom.

Protecting our NHS.

All built on solid economic foundations.

A plan that puts working people first.

And this plan is not simply about a fairer society.

It is also about a more prosperous one.

Because only by putting working people first can we use the talents of all and succeed as a country.

The Tories think we succeed with a few at the top doing well.

We know we prosper together.

3. The Choice and the Campaign

In the next four months, there will be the usual sound and fury.

But it will all actually come down to something rather simple.

Who we are.

How we want to live together.

And how we succeed as a nation.

This is nothing less than a once in a generation fight about who our country works for.

It is a choice between a Tory plan where only a few at the top can succeed and our public services are threatened.

Or a Labour plan that puts working people first, deals with the deficit and protects our NHS.

We have a Government that will say: stick to their plan.

They really think this is as good as it gets.

That’s because they’re the pessimists about what is achievable for Britain and the British people.

And between now and the election, they will find all kinds of ways to tell you that change isn’t possible.

Just as the pessimists have always done down the years.

That change that puts working people first can’t be done.

But I don’t believe them.

And I don’t think you should believe them either.

We’ve done it before as a country in the face of even greater challenges and we can do it again.

It is seventy years this year since Britain won the Second World War and went on to win the peace.

Think about what they were facing.

That generation didn’t sit back and put up with what it had seen before.

With the dark days of the depression.

The negativity that said there was no other way.

Instead, they started to rebuild.

Rebuild with an economy that works for all working people.

Rebuild by honouring everyone who works hard.

Rebuild by standing up to the powerful forces, those who need to be held to account.

Rebuild by dealing with our debts responsibly for the good of the next generation.

Rebuild by protecting our vital public services, including our NHS.

That’s what our plan for Britain’s future will do.

That will be our task again.

Let’s go out and fight for the chance to make it happen.

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Church leading the way on fight against hunger

foodbank.jpgA shocking 913,138 people in the UK were given three days emergency food and support between 2013 and 2014.  The expanding need for food banks is a ‘phenomenon’ most of us have heard about, but little has been heard from Parliament in terms of practical and clear solutions. It seems a first stage in this battle for change has finally occurred, and it’s the church leading the way.

 

A report, ‘Feeding Britain’ has been published today. It is the result of the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Hunger in the United Kingdom, led by Labour MP Frank Field, The Bishop of Truro and largely funded by the Archbishop’s charitable trust. Right from the start the report is clear there needs to be urgent action from our politicians asserting “this simple but devastating fact that hunger stalks this country should confront each of the main political parties with a most basic and fundamental challenge”.

 

It can be difficult to understand the struggle of those using food banks in this country but Welby tries to emphasise the embarrassment and difficulty families in this situation face in an article he wrote for the Mail on Sunday. He describes a family he met, “they were hungry, and ashamed to be hungry”. It seems from articles like these, and from reading the report, that the further the food crisis in this country is researched the more urgent the need to tackle it appears.  Clearly, less time should be wasted explaining who is to blame and all attention should be placed on what can be done to tackle this.

 

The report calls for a £150 million state backed system to combat hunger called ‘Feeding Britain’. This would link together all the organisations and charities currently helping those suffering from hunger and would also call for an increase in the amount of waste food these groups receive, which is currently just 2%. It would also include eight members from the relevant cabinet offices attributed with food provision. The report also goes on to identify benefit sanctions as the single biggest reason for the poor resorting to food banks, highlighting a loss in the margin of income which once allowed families to survive financial crisis.

 

The Arch bishop has urged that the practical recommendations of the report be taken on by politicians, highlighting the need for a wide range of support for the hungry. He also touched on the harshness of benefit sanctions, pointing to a story where a man stopped to help someone on the street “missed his appointment and lost his benefits”. He also makes a point of asserting that having a job does not necessarily take people out of the risk of turning to food banks anymore.

 

The response to the report, and the Archbishop’s comments have been varied. A Cabinet Office spokesperson responded to these comments and the ideas in the report arguing “sticking to this Government’s long term economic plan is the best way to improve living standards”. A Tory has also been reported as arguing the increase in use of the food banks is a result of their higher publicity although it’s clear from the report this is not true. Nick Clegg, on the other hand,  has responded suggesting a ‘traffic light system’ should be put in place so that people get warnings before their benefits are sanctioned.

 

Time and time again the bible tells us God wants us to help the poor. Jesus came not to be served, but to serve – that should be the churches' objective too. This report has put serving others at its heart. Plastered over many newspaper pages this morning, and inevitably filling the conversations, and attention of many key politicians today is what the church has said about the hungry in this nation. The Church has said this needs to end, and the Government and the media have heard – let’s hope these fantastic starting points for a framework to support the work of food banks and tackle hunger at its base are implemented, and soon.

 

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