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The party leaders pitch for your votes

05 December 2019

In the run-up to the General Election, Church Times and Christian Aid asked Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn, and Jo Swinson to write exclusively on their policy priorities


“We are directly helping developing nations to tackle the causes of climate change”

— Boris Johnson

AS CONSERVATIVES, we believe that everyone in the world should have the right to good health, good work, family, and opportunity. That is why we have invested considerable funding and expertise over the past decade, working with developing countries to grow their economies and provide the security and freedoms that we are fortunate to enjoy in the UK.

Under nine years of Conservative leadership, the UK has become a development superpower. In 2013, we were the first G7 country to meet our target of spending 0.7 per cent of GDP on aid. In 2015, we enshrined that ground-breaking target in law.

Since 2015, our aid has reached 32 million people with humanitarian assistance, including at least ten million women and girls. By 2020, we will have immunised 76 million children, with one million lives saved.

An important way in which we tackle infant mortality, eradicate illiteracy, and reduce population pressures is by ensuring that every girl in the world receives the education that is her right. That is why in Biarritz, at the G7 (News, 30 August), I announced new funding of £90 million, so that 600,000 children in countries torn by conflict — where girls are twice as likely as boys to be out of the classroom — get the chance to go to school.

Preserving our planet is key to protecting vulnerable communities across the world. We were the first major economy in the world to introduce a net zero target for emissions, meaning that our contribution to global warming will end by 2050.

To meet our target, we will build on our existing record of reducing greenhouse gases by 25 per cent since 2010 — decarbonising faster than any other G20 nation since 2000.

We are directly helping developing nations to tackle the causes of climate change, cementing our position as a world leader in this field. We will double the UK’s International Climate Finance to more than £11 billion over five years, which supports poorer countries to deal with the causes of climate change, such as preventing deforestation and reducing carbon emissions.

We are also supporting nature-based solutions for decarbonisation in the UK by planting 30,000 hectares of new woodland per year across the UK by the end of the next Parliament.

We have launched a £500-million fund to help to protect oceans. They support the livelihoods of one in every ten people, including some of the poorest and most vulnerable worldwide. Fisheries serve as a livelihood for more than 38 million people in developing countries, and up to 50 million people in processing and marketing.

Our fund will allow us to continue to share our world-leading expertise to support developing countries to protect previous marine habitats and restore their potential to tackle climate change.

The Conservatives will get Brexit done, so that we can focus on people’s priorities, including tackling climate change, restoring nature, and helping vulnerable communities overseas.

Boris Johnson MP is the Prime Minister and Leader of the Conservative Party.



“The Labour Party would not exist without the work of Christian Socialists” 

— Jeremy Corbyn

IN SEPTEMBER 2018, the Archbishop of Canterbury helped to launch the Institute for Public Policy and Research Commission on Economic Justice’s call for “a new moral purpose to define the goals of economic policy” (News, 7 September 2018).

At the time, Archbishop Welby wrote powerfully about both the Christian call to work for the welfare of all and his belief, with reference to the Gospel of St Matthew, that we are judged by how we treat the most vulnerable people among us.

Those are the values that the Labour Party also holds dear. They determine who we stand for and shape our policies — from our commitment to end rough-sleeping all the way through to our approach to Brexit. That is why, throughout this process, we have prioritised workers’ rights, the environment, and jobs.

And it is why we are so concerned about the threat posed by Boris Johnson’s deal to our NHS — our proudest institution which epitomises the Christian ethic of love thy neighbour. Johnson’s planned sell-out deal with President Trump puts a price tag on our NHS and could see an extra £500 million a week of NHS money handed to big drugs companies. Labour’s message is clear: our NHS is not for sale.

Our commitment to the welfare of all doesn’t stop at our borders. Sadly, Conservative governments have contributed to a global economy that cancels out the efforts of international aid.

The failure of our own and other governments to get a grip on the climate crisis that threatens all of us shows that the current system is incapable of meeting the challenges of the future as well as the present. This General Election is our last chance to tackle the climate emergency with a Green Industrial Revolution at the heart of our plans to transform Britain. As we have seen recently with the floods (News, 15 November), untold damage is done to those least equipped to face the consequences of the climate crisis.

The Conservatives and their public attacks on overseas aid, human rights, and policies that are designed to shut out people largely seeking refuge, seem to be gambling on the idea that our humanitarian spirit has waned. This is not true, and one need only look at our churches and churchgoers to see the extent of our compassion.

The Church is not confined to a political party; but the Labour Party would not exist without the work of Christian socialists, whose worship was expressed in striving for a better, happier society, rooted in the common good. Their commitment to such a society is embedded in our heritage and continues to this day to inspire me and countless others.

Faith communities help those most in need at home and overseas, provide moral and practical support to each other, combat loneliness and isolation, and rejoice and celebrate together. From the importance of environmental stewardship to loving one’s neighbours, they embody many of the values and ideas that I want to see in a just system which realises, not holds back, human potential.

Labour is committed to transforming our economy and who it works for, to ensure that our progress is judged on how far we have improved prosperity for all, not how much money we have funnelled into the pockets of the few.

We are committed to generous and effective aid around the world, but also to reducing the drivers of global inequality and injustice that continue to make aid necessary. We are committed to a sustainable transition that creates the green jobs and industries that this country is crying out for.

Above all, I am committed to a society in which people live well together; a society that puts communities, compassion, and the common good at its heart.

Jeremy Corbyn MP is the Leader of the Opposition and of the Labour Party.




“The social security system is driving people into poverty”

— Jo Swinson

FOR too many people in this country, things are not working as they should be. For too long, we’ve known that working hard and playing by the rules is not enough to guarantee a happy, fulfilling, and secure life for them and their children. That is not something that we should accept. All politicians of every stripe need to recognise that the current system needs work — needs change — to make it fair and to make it better for those who need our care and support.

Our planet is on the brink of being irreparably damaged, and we, as a global society, are responsible for that damage. The climate emergency is real. Meanwhile, young people have taken to the streets because they are so worried that the Conservatives are failing to act. There is no Planet B. We are facing a climate catastrophe that will create huge global inequalities. We have a moral duty to act.

The Liberal Democrats would place climate at the heart of government, cutting emissions by 75 per cent by 2030 and achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045 at the very latest. This is not a solution that can be delayed — it has to happen as soon as possible. To ensure that the Government is focused on climate change, we would call a historic Citizens’ Climate Assembly to involve the public in tackling the climate emergency and to make recommendations to government.

We also have an obligation to become a global leader in green issues — investing in new green technologies, and planting 60 million trees a year to balance our emissions, but also working with our close allies in the European Union to lead the international climate movement.

Our international obligations do not stop with the climate. In government, the Liberal Democrats introduced the spending of 0.7 per cent of Gross National Income on international aid. That’s billions spent on education, on sanitation, and on essential health care at a time when the largest countries in the world are abdicating their responsibilities. The Liberal Democrats will continue to commit to this spending — helping to build a better world for the future.

Closer to home, we know that the social-security system is not working as it should — it is driving people into poverty and desperation. We will invest £9 billion a year in making this system work for the most vulnerable among us: cutting the wait for the first benefit payment from five weeks to five days; removing the two-child limit on benefits and the benefits cap; and making work pay by increasing the amount that a family can work before their benefits are taken away.

The Liberal Democrats have an ambitious plan for the future of our country, in which every person, every community, and our planet can thrive. And all we need from you is your vote.

Jo Swinson MP is the Leader of the Liberal Democrats.

Click to read Paul Vallely’s analysis of the leaders’ comments

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