All party unity against hate

Bournemouth Liberal Democrats joined together with representatives of all the major parties on Saturday 18th June to remember the life of Jo Cox MP.

The event began with an emotional address from the local Labour Party chair, Patrick Canavan. Both local conservative MPs then spoke movingly of their experience and friendship with the Labour MP, wife and mother who was so brutally murdered earlier this week.

Concluding the event, a local Liberal Democrat spokesman gave the following address

"Unlike our Conservative colleagues I, and most of us here today, didn't have the privilege of knowing Jo Cox. It is important, however, that we have all chosen to come together today.

Today should have been a day of celebration.

If you are wondering what I think we should have been celebrating, I believe that every day we are able to exercise our right to speak freely and campaign for what we hold dear, is a celebration. It is a celebration of our democracy.

Although we choose to stand under different party banners and wear different coloured badges; whether our chosen flag is red, blue, white, yellow, green or rainbow coloured, we are all motivated by a common goal; to do what we believe is right for our communities and to offer hope in the belief that our lives can always be made better.

Today, however, has turned into a day of reflection. We have chosen to come together the mark the brutal death of Jo Cox, MP.

We have also come together to stand against an insidious tide of homegrown hatred that has slowly been creeping across our country and our continent.

It was an act of hatred when, on 28th January 2000, Robert Ashman walked into the Cheltenham constituency office of Nigel Jones MP and murdered party worker Andrew Pennington with a Samurai sword.

It was an act of hatred when, on 7th July 2005, four men murdered fifty two innocent people on the London underground and buses.

It was an act of hatred when, on 22nd July 2011, Anders Breivik killed eight people in Oslo then went on to murder 69 members of the Workers Youth League on Utoya Island.

It was an act of hatred when, on 22nd May 2013, Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale killed Fusilier Lee Rigby outside the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich.

It was an act of hatred when, on 16th June 2016, a man murdered a mother and promising MP, Jo Cox outside her constituency surgery in Birstall West Yorkshire.

Acts of hatred, perpetrated by our own citizens, are sadly all too common and I could have included the murder of Ian Gow, MP in 1990 and the attack on Steven Timms in 2010.

We have chosen to stand against hatred.
We choose to speak out against acts of terror and the deliberate spread of falsehoods which we know are designed to spread fear and hatred.
We choose to challenge bigotry in favour of trying to spread understanding.
We choose hope over fear.

At a time when many of us here have been on the receiving end of rising levels of aggression and vitriol I want to remind everybody that when others resort to abuse and violence to promote their cause, we will not.

We don’t all see eye to eye on the things we hold dear, but in his book, “The Audacity of Hope” Barrack Obama wrote,
          “In a country as diverse as ours, there will always be passionate arguments… That is how democracy works. But our democracy might work a bit better if we recognised that all of us possess values that are worthy of respect…”

I will finish by using some words from the maiden speech of Jo Cox, MP for Batley and Spen.
‘…we are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.’ "

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