Ed Balls to join religious left engagement on the family

By staff writers
March 3, 2010

Ed Balls will next week engage in a debate on family policy, which will suggest that Conservative ideas on tax breaks for married couples fail on fairness.

The Secretary of State for Children, Schools, and Families will discuss family policy with a feminist theologian, and an advisor to a conservative evangelical think tank.

It comes after he published a green paper on the family.

The event is being hosted by the Christian Socialist Movement, which makes up one part of the religious left in the UK. CSM says it has been organised to offer "a different perspective to the mood music coming from the Conservative Party".

The Tawney Dialogue however will not feature radical political or theological voices on family issues. The two other participants are evangelical Christians. Elaine Storkey is an evangelical broadcaster, author, and feminist theologian. Ann Holt is Director of Programmes at the evangelical Bible Society, and an advisor to the conservative Relationships Foundation. She formerly worked for evangelical charity Christian Action Research and Education during the time that it campaigned to retain Section 28 and against the equalisation of the age of consent.

Director Andy Flannagan said: “It is too easy for what should be the building block of our society to become a political football. We want people to see the big picture and focus on policies which promote family stability, including marriages. Christians need to make their voices heard in this important debate but we need to have an inclusive approach that does not stigmatise people.”

The annual event coincides with the publication of CSM’s latest magazine, The Common Good, which takes family policy as its theme. In it, Treasury minister Stephen Timms challenges the Conservative tax proposals on marriage, while other contributors look at how to promote stable families.

Their message is that Labour should talk more about families and marriage, but keep policy focused on family stability and tackling child poverty. They say that the Conservative focus on a marriage tax allowance is misguided because it fails on fairness.

The Tawney Dialogue is named after the Christian Socialist RH Tawney (1880-1962). Tawney Lectures and Dialogues have been running since 1992 on a variety of topics from a Christian Left perspective.

The Christian Socialist Movement is a large group of Christians affiliated to the British Labour Party. Its members include Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and over 40 others in the House of Commons and House of Lords.

The Tawney Dialogue will be held on 10 March at 6:30pm, in Westminster Central Hall


Keywords:marriage | Family
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