David Cameron speaks of Christian faith in Easter message

 
David Cameron gives his Easter message

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David Cameron has spoken of the "peace" and "guidance" he finds in his Christian faith.

In a rare comment on his religious beliefs, the prime minister stressed the importance of teaching children about the religious aspects of Easter.

He told BBC Radio Norfolk he wanted Nancy, Arthur and Florence to understand that the festival was more than just "chocolate eggs".

It comes as Downing Street released Mr Cameron's Easter message on YouTube.

In it, he says: "Easter is not just a time for Christians across our country to reflect, but a time for our whole country to reflect on what Christianity brings to Britain."

He speaks of the "countless acts of kindness" carried out every day across the UK by "those who believe in and follow Christ".

Miller resignation

"The heart of Christianity is to 'love thy neighbour' and millions do really live that out," he added, praising Alpha courses run in prisons and the "spirit" shown by those who had helped rescue residents during the winter storms across southern England.

Analysis

There is something about political leaders and their aides being asked about their Christianity that leads to memorable soundbites.

Or perhaps it is because it is a topic they often avoid and so any reference to it is remembered.

Tony Blair's former spin doctor Alastair Campbell was once reported to have batted away a question to the then PM about his faith by saying: "We don't do God."

And David Cameron, when he was leader of the opposition, borrowed a Boris Johnson analogy to compare his belief to the signal of a London radio station in the Chilterns.

In other words, a bit patchy.

Intriguingly, that signal seems rather clearer now.

Three times this week the prime minister has talked with conviction about his faith and what he believes Christianity brings to the UK.

It's a message from an instinctively "county Tory", a Conservative from a rural background, that will appeal to the party heartlands; where some feel bruised by what they see as liberal, metropolitan concerns such as gay marriage.

He said the government had increased funding for the Near Neighbours programme, which encourages members of different faith groups in the inner cities to work together on "social action" projects.

Mr Cameron held a reception for Christian leaders in Downing Street on Wednesday, following a day dominated by the resignation of Culture Secretary Maria Miller after a row over her expenses.

"The Bible tells us to bear one another's burdens. After the day I've had I'm definitely looking for volunteers," he told the gathering.

According to reports on the Bloomberg news service, the prime minister made no reference to gay marriage, a policy overseen by Mrs Miller but which threatened to damage his government's relationship with the Church of England, in his comments.

Instead, he thanked churches for the work they did with the poor and urged them to speak up for Christians suffering persecution around the world.

'Our saviour'

He said his "moments of greatest peace" occurred every other Thursday morning, when he attended Eucharist at St Mary Abbots, the west London church linked to the school his children attend.

"I find a little bit of peace and hopefully a bit of guidance," he added.

Mr Cameron is said to have referred to Jesus Christ as "our saviour" during the talk.

In an interview with BBC Norfolk on Thursday, Mr Cameron said he and his children mulled over "what Easter is all about" as they ate breakfast that morning.

"I was very impressed with their knowledge about Good Friday and Easter Sunday," he said.

"We had a bit of a conversation about that, (that) it wasn't about chocolate eggs.

"That was one of the themes at breakfast in the Cameron household."

In 2009, Mr Cameron told BBC One's Songs of Praise: "I believe in God and I'm a Christian and I worship - not as regularly as I should - but I go to church.

"Do I drop to my knees and ask for guidance whenever an issue comes up? No, I don't. But it's part of who I am."

British politicians have traditionally shied away from talking about their own religious beliefs in public, an attitude summed up by Tony Blair's former spin doctor Alastair Campbell, who in 2003 was reported to have said: "We don't do God."

Mr Blair was received into the Roman Catholic faith after leaving office and set up a Faith Foundation to promote better understanding between religious groups around the world.

 

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    15:06: Paper reaction The Daily Mail

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  10.  
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  11.  
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    David Cameron Here's photographic proof David Cameron used a script, as promised, for his big speech
     
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  13.  
    @robindbrant 14:47: Robin Brant, Political Correspondent BBC News

    tweets: think the story later will be of a much bigger donation to @ukip but not another defection. happy to be proved wrong though on the latter.

     
  14.  
    Text: 61124 14:43: Get involved

    Rob, Lichfield: In response to Patrick Wintour's tweet at 14.32 - the Human Rights Act (HRA) is a very short document that brings the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) into our law. Scrapping HRA would by definition scrap ECHR. What will be interesting is what the new Bill of Rights would put in its place.

     
  15.  
    Text: 61124 14:40: Get involved

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  16.  
    Text: 61124 14:40: Get involved

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  17.  
    Text: 61124 14:39: Get involved

    BBC News website reader: Being offered future tax cuts on the condition of economic recovery by a party that missed their own growth and deficit targets is hardly encouraging. Specific on the offers, vague on the means to achieve these offers.

     
  18.  
    Text: 61124 14:38: Get involved

    Lee Sanders, Chichester: Mr Cameron, can't buy my vote back with a pledge to increase the 40% tax bracket to 50k after what you did to middle earners and families on the child benefit.

     
  19.  
    @PCollinsTimes 14:36: Philip Collins, Writer, The Times

    tweets: As a piece of political writing, that was the best speech Cameron has done. Clear, well written and cleverly constructed.

     
  20.  
    Text: 61124 14:36: Get involved

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  21.  
    @tnewtondunn 14:35: Tom Newton Dunn, The Sun political editor

    Tweets: Ed Balls attacks Cameron's #cpc14 tax cuts as "pie in the sky promises" for not being costed - but interestingly doesn't rule out matching.

     
  22.  
    @patrickwintour 14:32: Patrick Wintour, Political Editor of the Guardian

    tweets: Cameron says will scrap Human Rights Act and replace with British Bill of Rights. Does not say will quit European Convention on Human Rights.

     
  23.  
    @rafaelbehr 14:30: Rafael Behr, Guardian columnist

    tweets: As with Osbo's big raid on working poor, I wonder if Tories getting just a bit cocky with this dubiously funded (upper) mid class tax cut.

     
  24.  
    @NigelpMorris 14:30: Nigel Morris, Deputy Political Editor of the Independent

    tweets: Missing from Cameron speech - any reference to (1) Boris Johnson (2) Nick Clegg and the @LibDems #CPC14

     
  25.  
    @joeyjonessky 14:29: Joey Jones, Deputy Political Editor, Sky News

    tweets: Cameron's best speech to conference since entering Downing St. Tone varied wildly, but good bits v good indeed.

     
  26.  
    @JBeattieMirror 14:29: Jason Beattie, Daily Mirror political editor

    tweets: Things Cameron didn't mention, though he had a script: bedroom tax, food banks and A&E closures. Don't expect hounding from media on this.

     
  27.  
    14:28: Olympic audience

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    Double Olympic medallist James Cracknell
     
  28.  
    14:26: Union reaction

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  29.  
    @OwenJones84 14:20: Owen Jones, Guardian columnist

    tweets: David Cameron accidentally says he "resents" the poor. But it'd explain his cuts to benefits for workers, disabled and unemployed people.

     
  30.  
    @krishgm 14:19: Krishnan Guru-Murthy, Anchor Channel 4 News and Unreported World

    tweets: @OllyGrender well it does seem increasingly plausible that the only person who won't change jobs in the next five years is Nick Clegg.

     
  31.  
    Text: 61124 14:12: Get involved

    Remy Osman, Buckinghamshire: Just starting my career and Cameron's speech has convinced me a Tory government will support me to keep more of my salary and buy a house.

     
  32.  
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  33.  
    Text: 61124 14:03: Get involved

    Martin Carter, Winchester: David Cameron certainly more prime ministerial than Ed Miliband's debacle last week. I'll have no qualms voting Tory next year.

     
  34.  
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  35.  
    Text: 61124 14:02: Get involved

    BBC News website reader: Shot a lot of Labour and UKIP foxes in that speech. I listened on the radio and could hear the genuine passion in his voice. I felt that I was hearing the real man behind the smooth persona, and it was refreshing.

     
  36.  
    @nigelfletcher 14:01: Nigel Fletcher, ex-Conservative adviser

    tweets: I saw both Miliband and Cameron after they'd given their speeches. I'd say this sums it up. #CPC14. See photo

     
  37.  
    Text: 61124 13:56: Get involved

    David Holt, Margate. Kent: As a lifelong Labour supporter who lives in Margate I'd like to thank the prime minister for showing me a third way of supporting Ed Miliband by voting for Nigel Farage. My Labour vote is wasted in North Thanet! But thanks to David Cameron I now know my vote can now be effective thank you.

     
  38.  
    Email: haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk 13:53: Get involved

    Chris Tuck: What a difference from last week's leaders speech. Coherent, sensible, planned and delivered with emotion. Without the predictable rhetoric of class war.

     
  39.  
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  40.  
    13:51: Lib Dem reaction

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  41.  
    @BBCNormanS 13:48: Norman Smith, BBC

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  42.  
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  43.  
    @MASieghart 13:43: Mary Ann Sieghart, Journalist

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  44.  
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  45.  
    @David_Cameron 13:37: David Cameron

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  46.  
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  47.  
    @FraserNelson 13:32: Fraser Nelson, editor of The Spectator

    Tweets: "Cameron is right to focus on 'me in Downing St or Ed Miliband in Downing St'. Even now he is the Tory party's most valuable single asset."

     
  48.  
    @George_Osborne 13:27: George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer

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  49.  
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  50.  
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  53.  
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  54.  
    Text: 61124 13:12: Get involved

    Richard, Worksop: Well I'm nailing my vote to the Tory flag pole, well delivered helpful to me and my family - I live in a labour fortress though so won't make a difference.

     
  55.  
    Email: haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk 13:12: Get involved

    Julie in Kent: Great speech but what about the people in their forties who lost their homes the last time Tories were in and negative equity was one of the most used phrases ever, and have never recovered. They don't qualify for all these first time buyer schemes and are looking only at becoming 'rest of life renters!' What are the Tories doing to help this group?

     
  56.  
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    Andrew Neil and Michael Gove
     
  57.  
    13:09: A sense of relief?
    The Camerons
     
  58.  
    @bbcnickrobinson 13:05: Nick Robinson, BBC

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  59.  
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  60.  
    13:02: Main points

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  61.  
    Email: haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk 12:58: Get involved

    Chris, Notts: Cameron looks very strong today, he made Miliband look like a fool.

     
  62.  
    Text: 61124 12:58: Get involved

    BBC News website reader: I like the idea of that tax cut, but how on earth is it going to be paid for?

     
  63.  
    12:54: Michael Gove Daily Politics Live on BBC Two

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  64.  
    Text: 61124 12:52: Get involved

    BBC News website reader: Liked Cameron's speech! Sounded good. Still need to know how it gets funded, economic growth?

     
  65.  
    Text: 61124 12:51: Get involved

    Ben from Gloucestershire: How about some balance? I, like millions of others, see through Cameron's predictable party conference rhetoric. Not remarkable, predictable.

     
  66.  
    12:49: Robinson verdict Daily Politics Live on BBC Two

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  67.  
    12:47: Big exit
    David and Samantha Cameron
     
  68.  
    Text: 61124 12:45: Get involved

    Chris, in Lancashire: Whatever your political views, you have to say that speech was brilliant.

     
  69.  
    @Kevin_Maguire 12:45: Kevin Maguire, Daily Mirror associate editor & New Statesman columnist

    tweets: On style, Cam gave Mili a lecture on how a podium and autocue can trump walking and forgetting. On substance, however...

     
  70.  
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  71.  
    12:44: It's over
    David Cameron and Samantha Cameron
     
  72.  
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  73.  
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  74.  
    12:39: Cameron jokes about Farage and Miliband
    David Cameron addressing the conference
     
  75.  
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  76.  
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  77.  
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    Spending on health care services 2012-13
     
  78.  
    12:35: Bill of Rights

    David Cameron pledges a new British Bill of Rights under a future Conservative government, and the abolition of Labour's Human Rights Act.

     
  79.  
    12:34: Migration statistics

    Here are the official statistics on international migration since 1995.

    Long-term international migration
     
  80.  
    12:33: Immigration

    David Cameron recaps on his vision for a future Britain - where reward will follow effort and if you put in you get out. But it must also be strong in the world and control its own destiny, he adds, and makes reference to immigration. Mr Cameron says this will be at the very heart of his EU renegotiation strategy. He pledges that he will "not take no for an answer" on free movement. Anyone who thinks he can't achieve this should judge him by his record, he tells activists - pointing out that he secured the first ever EU budget cut. Only the Conservatives can offer the answer on Europe, and deliver the in/out referendum, he adds.

     
  81.  
    Text: 61124 12:32: Get involved

    BBC News website reader: Wow a tax cut for middle income earners. I must be dreaming. Now that would make a huge difference

     
  82.  
    @JohnRentoul 12:32: John Rentoul, Columnist, Independent on Sunday

    tweets: Got me. Well deserved standing ovation for Cameron saying, How dare Labour frighten people about his intentions on the NHS.

     
  83.  
    12:31: Unemployment

    Here are the official figures on unemployment and claimants of Jobseeker's Allowance since 1992.

    Unemployment and Jobseeker's Allowance in the UK 1992-2014
     
  84.  
    12:30: Deficit/surplus

    David Cameron has promised to cut the deficit and achieve a government surplus. Here is the official projection for the next five years.

    Structural deficit and surplus
     
  85.  
    @JamesManning4 12:29: James Manning, Head of Social at @TheSunNewspaper

    tweets: Huge emotion from Cameron on the NHS there. Remarkable moment.

     
  86.  
    12:29: Breaking News

    David Cameron promises to ring-fence the NHS budget from government spending cuts over the course of the next parliament, if the Conservatives win power. He says this is only made possible because of the government's economic management. Labour will "never understand" that you can only have a strong NHS if you have a strong economy, he adds. Remember, health care is a devolved matter in the UK, so these proposals are for the NHS in England.

     
  87.  
    12:28: NHS

    David Cameron accuses Labour of spreading "lies" about the NHS - and says Labour is the party of the scandal of Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust. He recalls his experience of the health service with his late son, Ivan, and tells conference: "How dare they suggest I would ever put that at risk for other people's children." The party rises to its feet in support.

     
  88.  
    12:26: Pensions

    David Cameron hails the government's pensions reforms, which meets with applause from party activists.

     
  89.  
    @DuncanWeldon 12:25: Duncan Weldon, Economics Correspondent, BBC Newsnight

    tweets: Raising the higher rate threshold to £50,000 would cost around £5.5bn. So this tax package has a total cost of approx £17.5bn.

     
  90.  
    12:24: Teenagers

    David Cameron praises the National Citizens' Service - and pledges that a future Conservative government would guarantee a place on the scheme for every teenage in the country.

     
  91.  
    12:23: Unions

    Some more Labour attack from David Cameron - as he criticises the party's links with the unions. He says the Conservatives are the trade union for ordinary hard-working people and families.

     
  92.  
    @patrick_kidd 12:23: Patrick Kidd, Editor of The Times Diary column

    tweets: This is a really good speech. Unless you viscerally hate Cameron and the Tories in which case nothing he could say would change you.

     
  93.  
    Tweet: @BBCPolitics 12:22: Get involved

    @Brynleydm tweets: @BBCLouise @BBCPolitics Cameron speech full of what no mention of how

     
  94.  
    12:22: Education

    David Cameron tells activists the education system has improved significantly thanks to the Conservatives' education reforms - "with teachers who feel like leaders again". But Labour would risk all this, he claims. He attacks shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt, who he claims is trying to restrict the educational advantages he had has a child - whereas "I want to spread them to every child" in the country.

     
  95.  
    12:21: Samantha Cameron hears her husband talk about their daughter
    Samantha Cameron watching her husband
     
  96.  
    12:20: Home ownership

    David Cameron turns to housing. He says planning reforms and the Help to Buy scheme have boosted housing supply and helped first-time buyers to get on to the housing ladder. Labour was wrong to oppose these policies, the PM adds. He reiterates the Conservatives' plan for 100,000 new starter homes for first-time buyers under the age of 40 at 20% off the market value. The Conservatives are the party of home ownership once again, Mr Cameron declares.

     
  97.  
    @paulwaugh 12:18: Paul Waugh, Editor of PoliticsHome.com

    tweets: Cameron conference audience feeling 'At last, a proper tax cut for those on middle incomes!'

     
  98.  
    12:17: Forgetting

    David Cameron goes on the attack now - criticising Ed Miliband for forgetting to mention the deficit in his speech. In a conciliatory note, Mr Cameron says people forget car keys and that he even forget his child in a pub (queue an apology to his wife, Samantha, in the audience). But you cannot be prime minister of this country if you forget to mention the most important issue it faces, he adds.

     
  99.  
    @rosschawkins 12:16: Ross Hawkins, BBC

    tweets: Cameron takes aim at Nick Clegg's fox

     
  100.  
    12:15: Spending choice

    Let the message go out that under the Conservatives, if you work hard and do the right thing, we say you should keep all of your own money to spend as you choose, David Cameron tells conference.

     

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