One major difference between the Labour Party and the Tories is their respective attitudes to the family as a building block of a stable society. The former has done all it can to debauch it, whether deliberately or by negligence, whilst the latter firmly espouses it as something to be supported, directly and indirectly, by state policy.

With that in mind those of you out there who had just had a good lunch yesterday may not have appreciated what may just have been an unusual public criticism of her Prime Minister and his policies by Her Majesty The Queen in her Christmas Message:

In my experience, the positive value of a happy family is one of the factors of human existence that has not changed.

The immediate family of grandparents, parents and children, together with their extended family, is still the core of a thriving community.

When Prince Philip and I celebrated our diamond wedding last month, we were much aware of the affection and support of our own family as they gathered round us for the occasion.

Now Her Majesty went on to develop her argument to lead her to a paean of praise for those in our society who volunteer to help the disadvantaged and vulnerable but I was most struck by the short section I have quoted.

Her Majesty is, one may agree, someone with a careful nose for what the limits of her freedom of expression are and it may be dangerous to read too much into something which she says. But, given the considerable actual differences between the parties on the issue of the importance of the family, her assertions of its value and place in society may be seen as something of a subtle rebuke to Brown.

Labour would, of course, argue that it does indeed support the family and, indeed, its Ministers are always careful to pay lip service to it. Yet its actions and policies are all too frequently subversive of the family both in the general and in the particular. Thus the Queen’s description of the family which one might call an entirely traditional one as ‘the core of a thriving community’ strongly suggests that Her Majesty does not care much for Labour’s rather different approach to the family.

Whether the destruction of such a traditional family is a genie which successive governments have allowed to get out of the bottle and cannot now be put back in is something which can only be shown after a considerable effluxion of time. But that should not prevent us from trying if, as I believe, the traditional family and its restoration to a place of primacy in society is one of the fundamental keys to solving some of the problems that beset us.

One hopes Gordon Brown was not so hard at work at micro-managing every aspect of the nation over a couple of mince pies that he missed this nuanced dig.