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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Hustings speech delivered in 2015- for the record

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First and foremost a Happy Easter to one and all. It is a great pleasure to be here invited by a community motivated by the last words of the psalms, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord”. We now look forward to the happy Pentecost when there will be mutual understanding and charity in all languages.

A few words of philosophy to start before we get to the practical. I take my inspiration from the great French philosopher, Jacques Maritain, fierce opponent of anti-semitism and proponent of democratic values, when the world was drifting into totalitarianism. He talked about the primacy of the spiritual, in the widest, most generous and ecumenical sense. His second focus was on the intrinsic dignity of the human person, of whatever creed or race. This is a key motivation of my personal outlook.

And finally he revived the idea of the common good, which has roots deep in history, but has been so much lost with the growth of the state, as the cure all to all problems, in modern times.

I had a profound sense of the primacy of the spiritual when I wrote a blog article for one of the national newspapers comparing Muslim and Christian rhythms of prayer on my return from 3 months in Kuwait two years ago.

The common good demands a wide and generous tolerance and mutual respect. A free conscience is the first representative of Jesus Christ, as the 19th century theologian, Cardinal Newman said.

I am quite clear that Judaeo-Christian values have to be respected within our own society.

Now turning to the practical. The Churches are magnificent in direct and unmediated charity, a role much underestimated. It is the parable of the good Samaritan made real and as St Paul says, If I speak human or angelic languages but do not have charity, I am a sounding gong or a clanging cymbal. That said, Churches are no substitute for state action, but are very effective in working alongside the state.

Yesterday, I visited the food bank at St Peter’s Church in Pwllheli. What a magnificent work I found. I listened to stories of the unrelenting nature of the social service reform. How a woman was forced back to work who was literally on her death bed. What a catastrophe has overtaken us that we find this in any way acceptable. Of course, the welfare system should be simplified and streamlined, as is ukip policy. The present reforms however have found it far easier to target the weakest, most vulnerable and most honest rather than take on those who are gaming the system.

I oppose the bedroom tax- it operates unfairly, penalising those who cannot find alternative accommodation and takes insufficient account of the needs of families and the disabled.

It is only reasonable that child benefit should be paid to children resident in the UK. Benefits need to be capped- and also child benefits should be limited to the first two children. Getting reform of the benefit system right is a matter of pure justice.

I also spent yesterday visiting local businesses- for it is economic transformation and revival that will build up social cohesion and rescue many for poverty. And to the greatest degree possible these should be sustainable jobs within the just operating of the labour market. My father was a trade union leader and December his work on unfair dismissal cases always peaked. He had one man on his doorstep in floods of tears as he had been dismissed on December 18. There has to be more solidarity within society and this means solidarity not just between people but between generations.

The bonds of trust and charity within the community have been slowly eroded since the ending of World War II, whose 70th Anniversary we celebrate on the day after the election on May 7th. For the good of society, on that day, we should begin to repair them again. This is not a party matter it is a matter for all parties.

Many thanks to Tywyn Baptists for organising such a splendid event.
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