What Cameron said in his Christmas message, and what he really meant

Like last year, the prime minister has used his Christmas address to talk about the "Christian" values of giving and sharing.

David Cameron talked at length about the importance of faith in the UK, which he described as a Christian country, and said that religious values help us be tolerant of all faiths.

As a Christian country, we must remember what [Jesus'] birth represents: peace, mercy, goodwill and, above all, hope.

I believe that we should also reflect on the fact that it is because of these important religious roots and Christian values that Britain has been such a successful home to people of all faiths and none.

Cameron's comments come even as a recent government study found a "general decline" in Christian affiliation in the UK: only two in five Brits now identify as of the Christian faith.

He also praised the armed forces, emphasising the role of national security in keeping the country safe from terror threats.

It has not gone unoticed that his message echoes the Conservative party's election manifesto, and remarks made before the introduction of a new counter-extremism bill last May:

If there is one thing people want at Christmas, it’s the security of having their family around them and a home that is safe.

The prime minister went on to say that the "ill, homeless or alone" both at home and abroad were also in need of protection:

Millions of families are spending this winter in refugee camps or makeshift shelters across Syria and the Middle East, driven from their homes by Daesh and [Syrian president] Assad.

Christians from Africa to Asia will go to church on Christmas morning full of joy, but many in fear of persecution.

Throughout the United Kingdom, some will spend the festive period ill, homeless or alone.

In a break with tradition, Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Corbyn chose not to issue a Christmas message and will be giving a seasonal message ahead of the new year instead.

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