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05 October 2011

Party conference round up

Party conference round up

With the Conservative party conference finished this week and Liberal Democrat and Labour conferences held over the past few weeks, we round up significant points and see how Christians have been involved.

The Conservative party conference this week has seen a range of policy proposals including pledges from the chancellor George Osborne putting a freeze on council tax and lending to more small businesses increased. 

The Independent reported that the average family will save £72 a year, meaning a second year of council tax levels staying the same. 

However on Monday chancellor George Osborne announced the government would be abandoning plans to cut carbon levels faster than the rest of Europe- claiming legislation to cut levels had pushed up energy prices. "We are not going to save the planet by putting our country out of business," he said.

At the weekend, Alliance member Tearfund, and CAFOD and Christian Aid released a statement urging the government to not abandon its plans of being the 'greenest government ever' as part of a 'march of witness' in Manchester.

Tearfund's Paul Cook said: "Poor people urgently need finance to adapt to climate change…troubles dominating the western world must not allow previous pledges on international climate policy to be kicked into the long grass."

Iain Duncan Smith announced the government would be recognising marriage in the tax system. CARE's head of public affairs Nola Leach said: "Recognising marriage in the tax system has been the party's policy for addressing the 'broken society'… After the summer…this remains as much a challenge as ever and the need for them to implement their marriage policy commitment is now urgent."

On Monday night, a church service on the theme of hope was held by the Alliance's Network Manchester and the Conservative Christian Fellowship.

Said Marijke Hoek from the Alliance: "The Catholic Bishop of Salford and Anglican Bishop of Middleton spoke about their hope for the city and the event was attended by party delegates, MPs, political leaders and Christians from Manchester. It communicated that our hope lies in Jesus, who motivates us for tasks of service."

Also at the Conservative conference, home secretary Teresa May explained the government's plans to make sure foreign criminals facing deportation will no longer be able to claim 'a right to family life,' calling for the Human Rights Act to be removed.  The Guardian reported the move was to make sure that the deportation of terror suspects is easier.

The Labour conference held last week also covered sharp issues including cutting VAT to boost growth, more spending on international development as well as leader Ed Milliband calling on society to reward responsible 'grafters'.

The Christian Socialist Movement held events during the Labour conference, including a church service and prayer breakfasts and an evening for delegates and local churches to explore how Christians can engage in politics.

At the Liberal Democrat conference it was announced that a government consultation on opening up civil marriage to same-sex couples was to be started in spring next year,  with the Alliance releasing a statement on the proposals.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg committed to every child having a 'fair start in life', and a debate on the NHS Reform Bill was held.  An education fund for children in Africa was also announced, which was covered by the Alliance on its In The News Page.