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Miliband praises Christians' efforts against poverty and injustice

19 December 2014


Greetings: Ed Miliband and his wife, Justine Thornton, make Christmas cards with their sons, Daniel and Sam. This photo has been used as the Milibands' official Christmas card for 2014 

Greetings: Ed Miliband and his wife, Justine Thornton, make Christmas cards with their sons, Daniel and Sam. This photo has been used as the M...

CHRISTIANS share the same values as the Labour Party and play an important part in it, the Labour leader, Ed Miliband, has said.

Speaking to reporters after the Christmas reception of Christians on the Left on Monday, he said that, although he was not a Christian, he believed that he had much in common with those who were.

"When I talk about a more equal and more just society, I think that speaks for so many Christian traditions. I come to issues of inequality and injustice not from a Christian background, but I have a huge amount in common with those who come at those issues from a Christian background," he said.

He also praised the part played by Christians in battling poverty and injustice, and specifically mentioned the thousands of churches involved in Trussell Trust foodbanks. "I share the Archbishop [of Canterbury]'s deep outrage about the fact that we are one of the richest countries in the world and we have got such an epidemic of people in food poverty having to go to foodbanks.

"I pay tribute to the work that volunteers are doing, but I think the volunteers themselves would say this is a sign of a society that isn't working," he said. "No, it shouldn't be left to volunteers to feed people in Britain in 2014."

While he conceded that on some issues the Church and Labour supporters disagreed, he said that mutual respect for all parts of the Labour movement was key. "Dialogue and respect - they are my watchwords when disagreements come up."

He rejected the suggestion that one of these flashpoints was the question of taking in more refugees from war zones in the Middle East. Everyone in Britain supported welcoming those fleeing genuine emergencies, he said, and the issue was totally separate from concerns over immigration.

"I don't think harshness in relation to emergency refugee situations should be seen as a proxy for an immigration policy," he said. "You have got to get your immigration policy right, and you have got to make sure you uphold our traditions in relation to refugees."

He also praised the "tolerance" of the Church of England. Its comfortable relationships with other religions, he suggested, mirrored his own vision of a One Nation Britain where those of "all faiths and none" worked together.

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