UK & World News
Cameron Delivers Upbeat Christmas Message
Prime Minister David Cameron has thanked Britons for pulling together in a year of "challenges" in his official Christmas message.
He said Britain had made "real progress" in 2013 in strengthening its economy and creating jobs.
Mr Cameron also used the message to revive his concept of the "big society", which critics claim has been quietly sidelined since playing a major role in the Conservative general election campaign.
He voiced his gratitude for Christians who volunteer and help their neighbours, saying that by doing so they were helping to build the big society.
The PM said: "Looking back, 2013 has been a year when our country pulled together to overcome the challenges we face. Together we have made real progress on strengthening our economy and creating more decent jobs so that people can provide for their families.
"This progress is down to the efforts of millions who go out and work hard every day, putting in the hours, running businesses and keeping our economy going.
"And there are those millions who keep on strengthening our society too - being good neighbours, running clubs and voluntary associations, playing their part in countless small ways to help build what I call the 'big society'.
"Many of these people are Christians who live out to the letter that verse in Acts, that 'it is more blessed to give than to receive'. These people put their faith into action and we can all be grateful for what they do."
As well as stressing the religious aspects of Christmas, the PM also acknowledged it had been a "significant year for the Christian faith", pointing to the appointments of the Most Rev Justin Welby as the new Archbishop of Canterbury and Pope Francis in the Vatican.
"Both have come in with exciting plans to rejuvenate their respective churches, which should inspire Christians around the world," he said.
And after visiting troops in Afghanistan last week, he added: "I would like to say thank you to our brave servicewomen and men who are helping bring peace here and around the world; to their families who cannot be with them; and to all the dedicated men and women in the emergency and caring services who are working hard to support those in need this Christmas."
Labour leader Ed Miliband paid tribute to those people who would be spending time over the festive season caring for the lonely and the homeless in his Christmas message.
"As Christians prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, we should also take time to think of all those alone or suffering at this time of year," he said.
"I would like to pay particular tribute to the many people, churches and charities who will be looking after those who are alone or homeless this Christmas time.
"We should also pay tribute to those who will be working so that the rest of us have an enjoyable break, especially our medical staff, our police and our armed forces, thank you for your service."
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