This time of year the leaders of the three main parties release their Christmas message. Here they are in full.
At this important time of year for the Christian faith I send my best wishes to everyone in the UK and around the world celebrating Christmas.
Among the joyous celebrations we will reflect on those very Christian values of giving, sharing and taking care of others. This Christmas I think we can be very proud as a country at how we honour these values through helping those in need at home and around the world.
On Christmas Day thousands of men and women in our armed forces will be far from home protecting people and entire communities from the threat of terrorism and disease; NHS doctors, nurses and other British volunteers will be in Ebola-affected countries, working selflessly to help stop this terrible disease from spreading further; and British aid workers will be helping citizens to rebuild countries and communities afflicted by conflict and poverty.
Here at home, thousands of police and fire officers, paramedics and other emergency service personnel will be working hard to keep the public safe and well; across the country volunteers and workers from charities and other organisations will drop in on the vulnerable and elderly so they are not isolated this Christmas; and thousands of churches – whether in the smallest village or biggest city – will hold open their doors and welcome people of faith and none to give thanks and celebrate together.
So this Christmas, as we celebrate the birth of Christ with friends, families and neighbours, let us think about those in need at home and overseas, and of those extraordinary professionals and volunteers who help them.
Deputy Prime Minister
In 1914, a young soldier wrote home to tell his family and friends about Christmas spent in the trenches of World War One, “It was a memorable day,” he said, “from Christmas Eve to Boxing Day, not a shot being fired.
In this centenary year, we’re again reminded of the importance of these brief informal truces, which gave soldiers on both sides a moment’s respite from that violent conflict and which, in the decades since, have come to symbolise the power of Christmas to bring people together, even in the most challenging of circumstances.
At the heart of this festival is the birth of Jesus Christ, a time of joy and celebration for Christians around the world. Yet the core values this story represents – love, charity, hope – are universal, speaking to and uniting people of all faiths and none.
This Christmas and beyond, we can each do our bit to help secure the fairer, more peaceful world that the soldiers in 1914 longed for and our children deserve: reaching out to those people – wherever they may be – who feel isolated, who are caught up in conflict or who need our help.
And this is also our chance to say thank you to the countless men and women working so hard at home and abroad to keep us safe and well over the festive period. That includes, of course, our armed forces and their families who sacrifice so much for our country, our emergency service workers and all those caring for others this Christmas.
Thank you and may I wish everyone a merry Christmas and a very happy and healthy New Year.
Leader of the Opposition
One hundred years ago soldiers on the Western Front stopped their hostilities to cross no man’s land, to shake hands and – famously – to play football. In the midst of a tragic conflict the generosity, hope and sense of human solidarity that is characteristic of the Christian faith and culture came to the fore. What an extraordinary and unexpected event.
We need the same sense of compassion in the face of the suffering and hatred that afflicts parts of our world. And especially in the Middle East, the cradle of Christianity. Let us remember those caught up in fighting and in fear of their lives.
I am proud that the Labour movement has such deep roots in the Christian tradition of social activism and solidarity in the United Kingdom. This Christmas, I want to pay tribute to all who spend time, effort and skill in serving the needs of their fellow citizens in a voluntary and professional capacity.
Our country faces a choice next year. Let’s choose generosity and inclusion. I hope you have a very merry Christmas and a peaceful New Year.