Let freedom ring

This is the speech I’d like to hear Tim Farron give before the General Election.

I stand with you today to talk about the security of our nation, the protection of our way of life and about combatting the terrorist, the bomber and the gunman.

Our police and security services are working at full capacity. We know that and we thank them for it. The government deserves praise for its reaction to the Manchester outrage.

Many voices – prominent and influential Muslims among them – have joined in condemnation of the terrorist’s actions and in praise for the wonderful response from the emergency services and the people in Manchester, across the UK and worldwide.

We are deploying money, human resources and all the relevant machinery of the state to keep us safe from harm.

But there is one thing we are not doing.

No leading politician of recent times has attempted to replace the poison being fed to the impressionable with a counter case of championing democracy and its values and rights.

There is a vacuum in the battle and it is being filled by the extremists to spread hate, violence, death and destruction.

Democrats have to force out their death cult and replace it with the clean, pure, fresh air of democracy.

Every school, every pulpit, every council chamber should ring every day with democracy. It is freedom.

I call today for the leaders of political life in the U.K to join me in a reaffirmation of the fundamental values, right and benefits of democracy.

Let us reassert the basics – the bedrocks – of liberal democracy.

To remind us all what we have:

the secret ballot
universal suffrage
the right to vote
plural politics
regular elections
free speech
free assembly
the right to protest

To write, to a free press, to protection under the law, an independent judiciary, the right to put on a play, a concert, a comedy, to laugh, to cry, to sing, to dance to embrace humanity.

To be LGBT, to be single, to be a Christian or a Jew or a Muslim or an atheist or agnostic.

To be a Tory or a nationalist, a monarchist or a republican, a Liberal Democrat or a UKIPper, a socialist or a Jedi.

To be who we want to be. Not who someone else says we should be.

These are the values that hold us together. These are the values we must teach, we must champion, we must shout. For these are the things that keep us free. These are the things that give us the gift to be ourselves.

Now, today, as we stand against a murderous foe that wants only its voice heard, I say in the words of Martin Luther King, “Let freedom ring.”

What a great thing democracy is. What power is has to move the hearts and minds of people. But we have become lazy or complacent or maybe we have just forgotten how good our democratic lives are. Well, it’s time to sing its virtues. It’s time to let freedom ring.

Let it ring from the White House to No 10 Downing St. Let it ring from the great statesmen and women of the free world. Let it ring in every school. Let it ring now and every day. Let us rededicate ourselves – all of us, me, Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn, Nicola Sturgeon, Caroline Lucas, Paul Nuttall – to the battle for the hearts and minds of young people here in the U.K. and across the globe.

I say to all my fellow political leaders let us unite against the bomber, the killers of innocents, the murderers of hope. This struggle is not only the struggle of the government of the day. It is not only the struggle of the police or the intelligence services. It is not only about obligations and responsibilities to reveal the bomber and the radicalised.

It is our struggle. Every one of us can champion democracy.

And as political leaders we must lead. We have been spectators for too long. Now we must lead. We must light up the world with the spirt of hope and freedom that only democracy has ever succeeded in doing.

Our mission is to banish the sword by the power of freedom. We have fought many battles for freedom and won them all. We will not, we cannot lose this one.

Let freedom ring.

* Martin Roche is a member of Canterbury Liberal Democrats

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11 Comments

  • The reality is the our party does not matter at the moment, whatever speech anyone makes is not going to be picked up by the media, who do not want to know. We are not the third party of politics and are therefore unimportant and almost irrelevant, whatever we ourselves might think or feel. We are on the horns of a double dilemma, this disinterest and the still very strong memories of the coalition, the cuts and of course those damn Tuition Fees. After an electoral mauling it takes a party two or three elections to recover in any shape or form, two years is far too short in that scenario and we suffer the consequences. This election is not about Lib Dem growth, it is about survival in any shape or form in the Commons and to then sit out time and developments. There is a danger we could have no MPs at all. This is an election that was bound to serve us little or no good, we needed 2020 not 2017. This is grit your teeth time and survive as best as is possible. Drat that coalition and I supported it at first. Drat me.

  • No leading politician of recent times has attempted to replace the poison being fed to the impressionable with a counter case of championing democracy and its values and rights

    Hang on, hasn’t every politician of recent times tried to do that? The problem is that they have all failed, because although everybody agrees this would be a great thing to do, nobody has a clue how to do it.

  • Martin Roche 31st May '17 - 10:56am

    When was the last time anyone actually articulated the characteristics of our democracy – laid them out, one by one? What we get is soundbites about “way of life.” Democracy is under attack but while we see it happening around us we do little to build a case for beyond the need to win votes.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 31st May '17 - 11:20am

    Martin, this is excellent !!!

    I have been saying for years we should be emphasising democracy , as the very heart of Liberalism, even as some , ludicrously , suggested we should be called the Liberal Party again !!!

    I think the whole thrust of our policy on a fist referendum regarding any deal for Brexit, has been mistakenly , not pushed as more democracy , but less, by the Tories and media. This has stuck and we have come unstuck partly because of it.

    We do struggle in this volatile political scenario, May could lose her majority but it is , funnily , Labour who benefit.

  • This is a great idea for after The Election, if Tim made this speech during The Campaign if would be dismissed as a desperate attempt to get back in the game.

  • A Social Liberal 31st May '17 - 12:54pm

    Remind me, Martin. When did the Provisional IRA speak out against universal sufferage, when did the Ulster Freedom Fighters speak out against the right to vote.

    Yes, there are some terrorists who would try and prevent democratic process but some, such as the African National Congress set out on a terrorist campaign in order to achieve it

  • Nicholas Cunningham 31st May '17 - 2:53pm

    “No leading politician of recent times has attempted to replace the poison being fed to the impressionable with a counter case of championing democracy and its values and rights”

    The problem is so many hear the words ‘democracy’ and wonder. They wonder because in our parliamentary system next week my vote and millions of others will count for nothing and there’s the problem, we have democracy in name but not in practice. How is it in this age a vote in many parts of the UK is simply valueless, to replace poison one firstly must be given hope and that the democracy we all say is so important actually delivers for all. When next week I cast my vote it will be done under no illusions, the result of my consistency has been already decided, that my vote is actually worth less than others. So how can I and the millions of others feel we are part of the solution.

  • David Evershed 31st May '17 - 4:32pm

    Democracy means having free speech and implementing the will of the majority.

    During the EU referendum we had free speech for everyone to put their view and to critique the view of others.

    The result of the referendum vote was that the majority voted to LEAVE the EU.

    The Liberal Democrats do not seem inclined to implement the vote.

    As Martin Roche says:
    “But we have become lazy or complacent or maybe we have just forgotten how good our democratic lives are. Well, it’s time to sing its virtues. It’s time to let freedom ring.”

  • George Crozier 1st Jun '17 - 6:56pm

    This is a very good speech – the overall message and especially the first half of it (the channelling of MLK a bit too much is a risk later on). It would benefit from a bit more substance (what champions of freedom and democracy should be doing), and a bit of colour (testimony of what democracy, rule of law, freedom of speech etc mean to ppl who have been deprived of them). I would also internationalise it more.

    But the sentiment is spot on and it would be great hearing Tim deliver something like this.

  • @ theakes
    “The reality is the our party does not matter at the moment, whatever speech anyone makes is not going to be picked up by the media, who do not want to know”
    @ dav
    “Hang on, hasn’t every politician of recent times tried to do that? The problem is that they have all failed, because although everybody agrees this would be a great thing to do, nobody has a clue how to do it.”.

    With respect, I think a few people here are missing the point?

    This is not about the “how” or the “what” or the who.

    It is about the WHY!

    You have to start with WHY and build from there.
    Sow the seed, make people think what they have (and what they stand to lose).
    You have to start somewhere.
    The media may well pick this up and run with it. It’s different, it’s current, it’s incredibly important.

    Anyone under the age of 70 has arguably become complacent about what we all in the UK now take for granted.

    Many things that “could not happen’ have happened in the last year alone.

    This is worth taking very seriously indeed in my view.

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