This is one of a series of articles in which representatives of the main parties make their pitch for the Catholic vote.
This is the most important election of our generation as the country prepares to face new challenges, including leaving the European Union, and still has to work hard to improve our economy. The strong and stable leadership that Theresa May provides is the main quality in assessing who should be running our country for Brexit and beyond. Her work on the national and international stage shows she has the depth, credibility and integrity to make good choices for people in this country, built on a platform of positive leadership in tackling head-on the hard issues laid before us.
There is more to our leader, though, than just the headlines you might catch from day to day. I think Catholics should vote Conservative not just because our Prime Minister and leader, Theresa May, is a week in, week-out churchgoer, not just because she supported the move to stop assisted suicide, not because of her wider record on life issues, not just because she supports faith schools and wants to remove the barriers to opening more or because she is clearly a woman of faith; I want Catholics to vote Conservative and for Theresa May to stay as Prime Minister because she brings her strong principles (no doubt supported by a strong faith) into action when tackling social injustice in this country.
Not one to shy away from difficult issues, Theresa May as Home Secretary has tackled child abuse, female genital mutilation, modern-day slavery, violence against women and girls, fully opening up the Hillsborough inquiry and subsequently working to bring this to full justice. Stones upturned brought horrendous revelations and further reforms to the accountability and transparency of the police. Meanwhile, tackling extremism and the heavy burden of trying to keep our country safe, she has shown that she has the qualities to confront the challenges of our time and to build on the success of our improving economy, which allows us to continue to tackle poverty and disadvantage.
Income inequality is at its lowest level in 30 years. By raising the tax threshold – and we will continue to increase that to £12,500, equating to a further £200 tax cut – we have lifted four million of the lowest paid out of paying income tax altogether. A basic rate taxpayer has kept more than £1,000 more of their own income through tax cuts since 2010. Nearly three million more people are working. We introduced the national living wage which gave a pay rise to 1.7 million people and we will keep raising that. We will go further in the next Parliament: extending protections for workers, including their pensions, with new powers for the regulator to protect savers from irresponsible bosses; extending rights for those who want to care for family members, for those who suffer bereavement of children; and providing a greater stake in companies for workers and tackling the employment practices which stretch the meaning of self-employment.
Our welfare policies are fundamentally based on the principle that people will be better off working than not working, unless they cannot work. Yet, we have helped nearly 600,000 people with disabilities into work, encouraging employers to look beyond the disabilities and recognise the talents of so many people. We have also increased spending on disability benefits by more than £3 billion above inflation, supporting more people and targeting that support more effectively.
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