Author Archives: Dan Webster

Never again

 

After the horrors of the Second World War and the Holocaust, the world united to say ‘never again’. Never again would any state be allowed to persecute a section of the population on the grounds of their religious beliefs, ethnic background or nationality. Never again would the rhetoric of discrimination and ‘othering’ which allows such persecution to prosper be allowed to gain a foothold in our societies. Never again would we allow the fundamental dignity of all human beings to be so completely eradicated as it had been by the Nazi regime.

Post-World War Two, we as Westerners have been fortunate enough to live in a world in which we have had ample opportunity to learn these lessons, and no excuse to forget them. They have been drilled into us through our education, through remembrance services and through a wealth of documentation of the horrors of the Second World War in the media and in cinema. To varying degrees, we have all been brought up with some understanding of the events which led to the systematic murder of several million Jews, as well as members of other minority groups and countless political opponents. We know the dangers of allowing a stigma against minority groups to fester and to be propagated by the state through claims which tend to be founded on lies, or ‘alternative facts’.

And yet, today, in the year of 2017, the question of just how far these lessons have truly been heeded appears more acute than ever. If the warning sirens were not already sounding during Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, they must be heard loud and clear now in the first weeks of his presidency. Never again must the world stand by and watch as one of its most powerful states descends towards the oppression of minority groups and the erosion of fundamental rights.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 6 Comments

Perhaps the world needs Donald Trump. But we will have to learn our lessons the hard way

Just how much of a shock was Donald Trump’s victory in the US Presidential election? As we had seen with the UK general election in 2015 and, to a lesser extent, this year’s EU referendum, the polls and last minute predictions were confounded. But, for this observer at least, the sense of shock has worn off.

Trump’s success not only corresponds with the widely documented social unrest of white Americans (working class or not – https://i.redd.it/dei5tr2kuatx.png), it fits into a far wider picture which we have seen develop across the western world in recent years. Trump’s use of Brexit to further his own campaign is, of course, no secret. But the trend goes beyond this. A world which has seen the rise of the Front National in France, Alternative für Deutschland in Germany, UKIP in the UK and the New Flemish Alliance in Belgium to name but a few, appears to have been hurtling towards this moment – towards what Trump would call the liberation of the white working classes, or the reclaiming of national identities.

As we witnessed in the aftermath of the EU referendum, such groups will be heartened by Trump’s triumph. They will perceive his presidency as an opportunity to further their own ambitions and to ride the wave of his success in their own countries. Indeed, we have already seen the triumphant response of members of the Klu Klux Klan to Trump’s win. Many comparable groups around the world will feel vindicated by the US public’s apparent acceptance and endorsement of Trump’s rhetoric on immigration and minority groups. It appears inevitable that their power and influence, in the US, the UK and beyond, will only increase over the course of Trump’s presidency. No one can say what the world will look like by the time of the next US election in 2021.

But the purpose of this article is not to scaremonger. Quite the reverse.

Posted in Europe / International | Tagged and | 10 Comments

The Conservatives are trampling on Churchill’s legacy

Winston Churchill once said that the “mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of the civilisation of any country”. A “calm, dispassionate recognition of the rights of the accused, and even of the convicted criminal” was a symbol of “the stored-up strength of a nation and sign and proof of the living virtue in it”.

Under this government, however, we as a nation are increasingly departing from the values espoused by Churchill, and enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which made Britain a leading light on a global scale in the field of civil liberties. The Conservative government’s attack on the Human Rights Act, its lack of conviction in defending our membership of both the European Union and the ECHR and the stance it has taken in the face of the current humanitarian crisis created by the flow of refugees into Europe all illustrate the deeply concerning path onto which this government is leading our country. All of these developments in the brief period since a new majority Conservative government was formed in May have demonstrated more clearly than ever why this country needs the Liberal Democrats.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 13 Comments
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  • User AvatarTim Hill 17th Sep - 7:58am
    Very well said Ross. I'm not sure why a former supporter is commenting on a supporters web site, but you've hit the nail on the...
  • User AvatarTim Hill 17th Sep - 7:50am
    Oh David. Live in the real world. No defector is going to have a perfect liberal record, especially a Minister. What matters is where they...
  • User AvatarGlenn 17th Sep - 7:50am
    Alex MacFie I do get it. I just don't think it's good. And as I said I'm not going backward and forwards on this. It's...
  • User AvatarDavid Raw 17th Sep - 7:34am
    So Sam is a "proper Liberal" for singing a song about a policy the party formally abandoned in the 1920's ? Is it a case...
  • User AvatarAlex Macfie 17th Sep - 7:34am
    Glenn: If you don't get the principle that MPs are representatives (in the Burkean sense), rather than delegates, at least try to understand why it's...
  • User AvatarGlenn 17th Sep - 6:34am
    Rodney Watts The reason anti-Zionism gets linked to Anti-Semitism is that it so often dips into it. America and most of the countries in south...
Thu 10th Oct 2019