A Tale of Two Christmas Messages

By Virginia Moffatt
December 24, 2015

This morning the Prime Minister, David Cameron, issued a Christmas message to the nation, calling for support for homeless people, refugees, sick people and  calling for peace.   Mr Cameron's letter reminds us that Jesus' birth represents "peace, mercy, goodwill and, above all, hope". It's a statement I can't disagree with.

Meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Opposition, has been criticised for not putting out his own message, preferring instead to do it at New Year.  In fact, although he hasn't published an official letter, he did write a message for the Sunday Mirror last week which touches on many of the same themes as the Prime Minister's

Like Mr Cameron, Corbyn's letter speaks of people in need: homeless people,  refugees,and young people who lack opportunity.  "We should always be asking ourselves – all of us, not just politicians – whether we could do more for others."  He concludes that Christianity has much in common with his brand of socialism, "Do unto others as you would have done to you". Again, I can't disagree with that.

It's no surprise that the two leaders should have touched on similar subjects when talking about Christmas. After all, as many commentators point out, Joseph and Mary were homeless, and refugees.

What is a surprise, is that the Prime Minister sees no irony in talking about homeless people when homelessness has risen by 40 per cent under his leadership, or helping refugees, when the UK's assistance has been so limited. As my colleague, Symon Hill pointed out in his article today, it's hard not to feel revulsion at the Prime Minister citing Christian values when his policies create inequality and hardship.

On the other hand Jeremy Corbyn has long championed migrants and refugees, taking part in an Ekklesia/Harecourt Conversation on the subject earlier this year. Whilst his latest interview in the Huffington Post shows his commitment to developing housing policies which will tackle the UK's housing crisis.

So, while I welcome the fact that both men have spoken of values that I hold dear this Christmas,  their words on their own are not enough.  I want my political leaders to live by them too.  

And on that basis,  whilst I can believe from his actions that Jeremy Corbyn means what he says, the experience of the last five years shows David Cameron still has a long way to go.

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© Virginia Moffatt is chief operating officer of Ekklesia.

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.