Gavin Barwell MP

1 Mar 2013 19:43:58

A round-up of how Tory MPs have reacted to the #Eastleigh election result

By Tim Montgomerie
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On ConHome Adam Afryie's Eastleigh reflection urged a focus on measures to boost economic growth. Read it here.

The best contribution I've seen so far came from Gavin Barwell. He urged a focus on rebuilding our ground operation and focusing on so-called pavement politics. Paul Goodman has also worried today about the decline of our grassroots strength.

Here's a collection of what some other Tory MPs have been saying in reaction to the Eastleigh by-election:

LAING EleanorEleanor Laing warned David Cameron against alienating more traditionalist supporters: “Loyalty is a two-way thing and the leadership of the Conservative Party asks for loyalty from our supporters but those supporters don’t feel that they’re getting loyalty back.” She continued: "In my own constituency, on the doorsteps in Eastleigh and generally people I talk to – they actually feel hurt and they feel left out. They are told they are old-fashioned and they think they don't matter and what they stand for and what they believe in doesn't matter. Those people who for decades have put their faith in the Conservative party – the only way to take forward those issues people really care about is to have a truly Conservative government. To do that, the leadership of my party has to tune in better to the people who want to support it, who want loyalty and who now feel rather left out." Quoted in The Guardian.

Here's what some MPs have been saying on Twitter:

  • Michael Fabricant called for more focus and more simplicity of message: "The Conservative voice is muffled and not crisp. It does not clearly project Conservative core policies or principles. / The Cons Party must now co-ordinate & simplify its message without policy distractions away from core principles. 26 months / Everyone from the PM downwards must focus on the economy, immigration, crime, Europe and not allow other side policies distract."
  • Stewart Jackson called for a focus on strivers: "#Eastleigh puts more pressure on George Osborne to deliver an authentic Conservative Middle England striver's Budget. Over to you George"
  • Douglas Carswell urged the Tory leadership to stop worrying about pundits: "Don't alienate base in return for pundit applause. Pundits don't have many votes / Win over base. Then reach out beynd."
  • Sarah Wollaston urges the party not to move Right: "The response to losing in #Eastleigh must not be a move to the right for the Tories. Poor result for Conservatives despite R wing candidate".
  • Nick de Bois urges focus on cost of living and economy: "Suspect constituents will remind me to urge gov to just focus on cost of living & jobs-not "left"not"right" not modernising,just the economy".

And I was glad to see some kind words from Claire Perry for Maria Hutchings:

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I hope there'll be no briefing against a good lady.

7 Feb 2013 07:09:21

There is a lot of illiberalism amongst so-called liberals and a lot of intolerance from those who once preached tolerance

By Tim Montgomerie
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Burrowes and Barwell 2

If only all MPs debated contentious issues with such care and generosity as David Burrowes (left) and Gavin Barwell. Photographs from i-Images.

I was occupied with other things for most of Tuesday and missed the debates on the same-sex marriage legislation. It was, overall, a very high quality debate with both sides making important points. It contrasted with much of the preceding 'debate' in the media, on Twitter and in veiled threats to 'out' MPs who didn't vote the right way. David Burrowes MP used the debate to talk about some of the abuse he has faced. Some of it directed at his children. He worried that this intolerance of his own opposition to gay marriage was a sign of things to come:

"I do not have a monopoly on victimhood. The homosexual community has been subject to abuse which, sadly, has characterised debates about sexuality. It is intolerable, however, that as soon as Members of Parliament put their heads above the parapet and speak to the media, they are called “a homophobe”, “a Nazi”—I have been called that—“a bigot”, and many other expletives that I would not dare to read out. I have been told to be ashamed of myself, and to die: I have received specific death threats relating to my travel plans. I have been told that I am a disgrace, and that I have no right to express my opinion on this subject. My children have been told that their dad is a bigot and a homophobe.

That is only the tip of the iceberg of rude and offensive comments that many Members have received via Twitter. I have broad shoulders, and I can continue to stand up and support marriage in Parliament. Today’s debate has not been characterised by hatred and vitriol—we have shown ourselves in a good light—but I fear for the liberty of the conscience of my constituents who may not have such broad shoulders: public sector workers, teachers and others in the workplace who see no protection in the Bill."

Continue reading "There is a lot of illiberalism amongst so-called liberals and a lot of intolerance from those who once preached tolerance" »

9 Dec 2012 08:21:49

Boris Johnson and Michael Gove sign up to new Tory-led campaign for same-sex marriage

By Tim Montgomerie
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Screen Shot 2012-12-09 at 08.24.45

As reported widely in today's written and broadcast media a new Tory-led group has been formed to support equal marriage. You can read more about 'Freedom to Marry' on its website.

I should declare an interest. Some months ago I made a conservative case for gay marriage on this website and I've joined the group as one of its supporters. The other initial supporters are listed below:

  1. Gavin Barwell MP
  2. Lord Black of Brentwood    
  3. Alistair Burt MP
  4. Iain Dale, Publisher and LBC Radio Presenter
  5. Ruth Davidson MSP, Leader of the Scottish Conservatives
  6. Jane Ellison MP
  7. The Rt Hon The Lord Fowler PC    
  8. The Rt Hon Michael Gove MP
  9. The Rt Hon Nick Herbert MP (the driving force behind the group and author of an article for The Sunday Telegraph)
  10. Kris Hopkins MP
  11. Margot James MP
  12. Bernard Jenkin MP
  13. Boris Johnson
  14. The Rt Hon Patrick McLouglin MP
  15. The Baroness Noakes    
  16. Matthew Parris, Journalist
  17. The Rt Hon Nicholas Soames MP
  18. Paul Swaddle, President of the Conservative Party National Convention
  19. The Rt Hon Desmond Swayne TD MP

As media outlets have noted the support of evangelical Christians Alistair Burt and Desmond Swayne as well as the Catholic Cabinet minister Patrick McLoughlin is an indication of the group's broad base. More high-profile supporters will be announced in the coming days and weeks.

Continue reading "Boris Johnson and Michael Gove sign up to new Tory-led campaign for same-sex marriage" »

1 Dec 2012 08:18:01

A productive day in Parliament - with progress on banning illegal scrap metal dealing

By Matthew Barrett
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PARLIAMENTGenerally speaking, Fridays are unproductive days in Parliament. They are used to consider Private Member's Bills, which are often talked out by MPs, some of whom are serious in their opposition, and some of whom have been asked to block a Bill by a party hierarchy (not always their own). With the possibility of a PMB passing through to the next stage of consideration by Parliament often being risky, a day when several PMBs go through is notable.

Such a day happened yesterday. There were PMBs passed through in both Houses. In the Commons, Bills included:

  • Mental Health (Discrimination) (No. 2) Bill - Gavin Barwell
  • Marine Navigation (No. 2) Bill - Sheryll Murray
  • Presumption of Death Bill - John Glen
  • Mobile Homes Bill - Peter Aldous

And in the Lords, two went through:

  • Disabled Persons' Parking Badges Bill - Simon Kirby/Baroness Thomas of Winchester
  • Scrap Metal Dealers Bill - Richard Ottaway/Baroness Browning

The titles might be a little dry, but they dealt with common-sense causes, including stopping non-disabled drivers using disabled car parking spaces, and trying to stop illegal scrap metal dealing - often involving the terrible crime of stealing from churches and graves.

24 Nov 2012 12:09:15

Tory MPs - and Michael Gove - react to Rotherham council UKIP foster parents story

By Matthew Barrett
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Paul Goodman and Harry Phibbs have already covered this strange case of UKIP-supporting foster parents having children taken away from them by the council in Rotherham. Such a breach of political freedom and liberty has been greeted with concern by a number of Tory MPs - including the Education Secretary, Michael Gove - in tweets and elsewhere. I have collected some below.

Gove pointingMichael Gove has released a statement (via here):

"Rotherham have made the wrong decision in the wrong way for the wrong reasons. Rotherham's reasons for denying this family the chance to foster are indefensible. The ideology behind Rotherham's decision is actively harmful to children. We should not allow considerations of ethnic or cultural background to prevent children being placed with loving and stable families. We need more parents to foster and many more to adopt. Any council that decides supporting a mainstream UK political party disbars an individual from looking after children in care is sending a dreadful signal that will only decrease the number of loving homes available to children in need."

Continue reading "Tory MPs - and Michael Gove - react to Rotherham council UKIP foster parents story" »

25 Oct 2012 06:44:41

Prisoner votes, the Twittering MPs revolt - and an unwhippable Parliamentary Party?

By Paul Goodman
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Screen shot 2012-10-25 at 06.30.10
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I wrote recently that it has never been harder to be a Whip.  This morning, I cite as supporting evidence the above tweets, issued on Tuesday evening - immediately after the Guardian's claim that the Government was considering supporting votes for prisoners went online.  There will be more along the same lines from other Conservative MPs for those who care to trawl through the backlog.

Once upon a time, a controversial claim would break in the morning's papers, print and radio journalists would try to get MPs to comment, and the Whips would try to shut them up.  Now the combination of online news and Twitter has transformed all that.  MPs are setting out their position before the Whips Office has had time to scratch its head.

No wonder one Whip says that the Parliamentary Party is now unwhippable.

4 Sep 2012 16:03:59

Conservative MPs react positively to the reshuffle

By Matthew Barrett
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Since details of the reshuffle have emerged, Tory MPs, especially on the right of the party, have been reacting positively to David Cameron's appointments.

LAWSON NIGEL TODAYLord Lawson was pleased with the reshuffle:

"I am on the whole very pleased with what has been done. There's another purpose why you need reshuffles. There is always a need to curb public spending and ministers become attached to their departmental budgets and therefore the Treasury needs to have new ministers who will look at their departmental budgets with fresh eyes and find ways of further savings and that is particularly necessary at the present time."

He had specific praise for Owen Paterson's promotion:

"I am very pleased to see in this reshuffle the promotion of Owen Paterson. Owen Paterson is little known to the British public because he has been Northern Ireland Secretary, so he is well known there, but really little known elsewhere. He is in fact one of the most able and promising young men or women around the Cabinet and therefore his promotion to Environment is extremely welcome….he is a man of reason and sense."

Bridgen AndrewAndrew Bridgen said the reshuffle was more wide-ranging than many Tories had expected:

"I think the reaction from the backbenches is that this reshuffle is quite a lot more extensive than we actually predicted. So it is far more radical. But at the end of the day, these reshuffles are of great interest for those of us in the Westminster bubble and the media out there, but I think the people, your viewers, are really interested in policy, not necessarily personality, and it’s about reinvigorating the Government and pushing those policies forward to deliver economic growth that’s going to get the country out of recession."

Continue reading "Conservative MPs react positively to the reshuffle" »

28 Jul 2012 09:03:51

All Tory MPs pour praise on opening ceremony (well nearly all)

By Tim Montgomerie
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Aidan Burley MP has got himself into trouble (again). This time for some sour tweets about the Olympics' Opening Ceremony:

Screen Shot 2012-07-28 at 08.48.44

There's a report in The Telegraph. Number 10 quickly distanced himself from Mr Burley's Tweets.  "We do not agree with him," said a Downing Street source. Fellow Tory MP Gavin Barwell tweeted his own rebuttal. There's nothing left-wing about embracing diversity, said the member for Croydon Central.

Robert Halfon MP was positive throughout the evening (writing a blog entitled "Olymptastic") but he did object to Shami Chakrabati's casting as Olympic flag carrier "given her senior role in LSE: the Uni that sucked up to Gadaffi". I agree with Rob, why not an Afghan war vetaran instead?

Most Tory MPs were completely uncritical, however. Here's a selection:

  • Stuart Andrew: As you can see Mr Romney, we are ready! Well done all!
  • Harriett Baldwin: Loved it all, but being a Worcestershire dog owner my best bits were Elgar and the corgis
  • Steve Baker: Wonderful to see two great British engineers celebrated tonight: Brunel and Berners-Lee
  • Dan Byles: Has Danny Boyle just secured his knighthood, with this incredible ceremony?
  • Damian Collins: Absolutely stunning start to the London 2012 Olympics. Danny Boyle's opening ceremony really was the best of British.
  • Alun Cairns: Fantastic opening ceremony and S&P confirm Britain's AAA rating. Looking good even without winning a medal so far
  • Charlie Elphicke: An amazing #london2012 opening ceremony. Brilliant @DannyBoyleFilm celebration of our nation. Tonight we are #OneBritain
  • Margot James: Jerusalem, Chelsea Pensioners, forging, James Bond and the Queen, nurses, great music, quirky history of our Isles loved
  • David Jones: Over a billion people watching this. Watching our country. Very proud.
  • Louise Mensch: Beyond awesome. We rule. #GodSaveTheQueen
  • Nicky Morgan: Oh wow! The Olympics are here. Only city to host for a third time.
  • Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: Well that was fantastic. The world was watching London and London delivered. Well done to all who made it happen.
  • Rob Wilson: Oh Danny Boyle, English eyes are smiling! Sing it everyone.

30 May 2012 13:10:28

Tory MPs refute media myth that Parliament being in recess means they are "on holiday"

By Matthew Barrett
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On yesterday's Today programme, Justin Webb, introducing a section on the Lords, said "MPs are still on holiday but the House of Lords is sitting..."

Although he was later happy to acknowledge MPs are not, in fact, "on holiday", Webb set off a series of tweets from Tory MPs miffed at the fact they were being portrayed as taking too much time off. David Jones (Clwyd West) got the ball rolling

Dan Byles (North Warwickshire) continued:

Continue reading "Tory MPs refute media myth that Parliament being in recess means they are "on holiday"" »

25 May 2012 16:13:46

After attacking graverobber as "scumbag" Gavin Barwell MP is The Sun's "hero of the week"

By Tim Montgomerie
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Tory MP Gavin Barwell discovered that metal thieves had stripped a memorial from his father's grave. His reaction on his Twitter account was retweeted across the internet:

Screen Shot 2012-05-25 at 16.06.40

The Sun has made Mr Barwelll their "hero of the week" for his instinctive response:

"Politicians who speak their mind are a rare commodity. Most tip-toe around the issues, prevaricate and avoid saying anything that might loosen their grip on the greasy pole. So it was refreshing to hear Gavin Barwell speak with such honesty when he suffered a devastating personal setback this week. The Croydon Central MP was shocked to discover sick metal thieves had stolen a memorial plaque from the gravestone of his dad David, who died in 2005. The dad-of-three didn't pull his punches when he spoke about the incident because he'd one eye on his career. He branded the thief a "scumbag" and warned: "If I ever find out who you are, you are going to regret it." It was a very natural, very human response to an appalling crime. Mr Barwell had already impressed many in Westminster with his response to the devastating impact of last summer's riots on Croydon. At a time of crisis, he spoke out eloquently on behalf of the silent majority of law-abiding people in his town. We could do with a few more MPs like Mr Barwell in Westminster."

In the Commons yesterday Sir George Young told Mr Barwell that the Government was considering tougher penalties for those convicted of metal theft. Here is the full exchange:

Gavin Barwell (Croydon Central) (Con): "Last night I learned that the plaque marking my father’s grave has been stolen, along with a huge number of other plaques in Beckenham cemetery. I am sure that all Members share my utter contempt for people who would steal, and trade in, such memorials. The Government have taken some action in relation to the scrap metal industry, but may we have a debate on what other measures might be needed, and in particular the proposal raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Warrington South (David Mowat) at yesterday’s Prime Minister’s question on whether this should be an aggravating factor in sentencing?"

Sir George Young: "I am very sorry to hear of what happened to my hon. Friend’s father’s tombstone; I understand how distressing that must be. He will know what the Prime Minister said at yesterday’s PMQs. We have already taken some steps in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, but we recognise that other measures may well be needed. The Government are actively considering what further steps we might take, such as increasing the penalties and having a better regulatory regime for scrap metal, in order to avoid distressing incidents such as that which my hon. Friend described."

20 Apr 2012 06:33:09

Who are the 301? The Tory MPs who want to refresh the 1922 Committee

By Matthew Barrett
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The 301 group is perhaps the most active and important group of backbench Tory MPs. Tim Montgomerie reported last week that three MPs - Charlie Elphicke, George Hollingbery and Priti Patel - want to organise a candidate to be elected to the 1922 Committee's executive who will give the '22 a focus on policy and campaigning. The Spectator's James Forsyth blogged that "The vote for their candidate, and his opponent, will give us the best idea yet of where the backbenches are at the moment politically. Indeed, I expect that the machinery of the 301 group, the most pro-Cameron of all the backbench groups, will be thrown behind the Elphicke-Hollingbery-Patel slate."

To organise or endorse candidates for the '22 is certainly the most power a backbench group has yet wielded in this Parliament. In this profile, I'll be looking at the origins, members, aims and plans of the group to get a sense of what the group wants to campaign for.

Origins of the group

HopkinsLeeThe 301 was first organised by Kris Hopkins (Keighley), a former soldier and leader of Bradford Council, and Jessica Lee (Erewash), a former barrister, and now Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Attorney General, Dominic Grieve. The group began with small meetings of a handful of MPs who were "concerned that the narrative in Parliament was not representative of the conversation" that MPs had had with the electorate while campaigning during the 2010 general election, and also dissatisfied with the fact that the mechanisms of debate amongst backbenchers, and between the back and front benches, were not conducive to trying to correct that narrative. Each of those attending brought a friend, and so on, until after three meetings the group reached 60 members.

Continue reading "Who are the 301? The Tory MPs who want to refresh the 1922 Committee" »

3 Apr 2012 08:02:14

What is the 2020 group? Matthew Barrett profiles the Tory MPs trying to renew the Cameron project

By Matthew Barrett
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Of the Parliamentary groupings founded by MPs after the 2010 general election, the 2020 group is perhaps the least understood. Channel 4's Michael Crick and the FT (£) covered its launch during conference last year. Those two reports implied the 2020 group was a centre-left grouping pre-occupied with "countering the rise of the right". The 2020 is not about bashing the right. It's about upholding the ideas and optimism of the Cameron leadership era, and ensuring they can help inspire a majority Conservative government. In this profile, I will take a closer look at the 2020, its aims, role, and plans for the future.

Origins of the Group:


The 2020 was founded in Autumn 2011 by Greg Barker, the Minister of State for Climate Change, Nadhim Zahawi (Stratford-upon-Avon), and George Freeman (Mid Norfolk), with Claire Perry (Devizes) joining soon after. It was launched at conference last year.

Members of the group (see below) are drawn from across the ideological spectrum (one member told me the 2020 tries to "reject the stale orthodoxies and dogmas of the old left versus right split in the Tory Party"), but members are united in wanting to develop conservatism and what the Party might look like in 2020. Founder George Freeman said: "The 2020 was set up as a forum to help the new Conservative generation define a modern progressive Conservatism for our times. What is the DNA that unites this diverse new generation? What are the long term social, economic, and technological changes that will shape our world? By tackling these and related questions we hope to help Conservatives define and dominate the radical centre ground of British politics."

Fellow founder Greg Barker explained another aspect of 2020's mission: "There's a strong strain of optimism that ran through the early Cameron message, and that message of change, hope and optimism, sometimes because of austerity, gets overshadowed, and we see ourselves as the guardians of that message".

Continue reading "What is the 2020 group? Matthew Barrett profiles the Tory MPs trying to renew the Cameron project" »

24 Mar 2012 08:02:40

The Parliamentary Diary of Gavin Barwell MP reflects on the Queen's visit and a 'Budget for work'

6a00d83451b31c69e20167634cd8f7970bGavin Barwell, Conservative MP for Croydon Central, is this week's ConservativeHome Diarist. Follow Gavin on Twitter.

House of Lords reform

Much of my week has been spent on the contentious issue of House of Lords reform. Back in July, I was appointed to a Joint Committee of both Houses of Parliament that was tasked with scrutinising the Government’s draft House of Lords Reform Bill. Since then, we have considered a huge amount of evidence from proponents and opponents of reform and from various constitutional experts (self-appointed or otherwise), and on Monday and Wednesday we had the first two of three meetings where votes are cast to agree the exact wording of the report.

Being a member of this Committee has been one of the most interesting things I have done in my nearly two years in Parliament. As the recent discussions on ConservativeHome illustrated, House of Lords reform is an emotive issue that divides our party. The same is true of the Labour Party and even the Liberal Democrats to a lesser extent, so the divisions on the Committee are not along party lines and we have seen some unusual alliances!

Whatever one’s views on the issue of principle - whether those who have a hand in making the law ought to be elected - if the Government does decide to proceed, it is important that it does so in a way that doesn’t undermine the primacy of the House of Commons nor the relationship between an MP and his constituents, and doesn’t significantly increase the cost of politics. The Committee will make some sensible suggestions as to how the Government could improve its proposals and I hope our deliberations will result in changes that will make the proposals more palatable to ConservativeHome readers.

The Queen comes to Parliament

On Tuesday, I had a brief and welcome interlude from the arcane details of House of Lords reform when Her Majesty came to Westminster Hall to receive addresses from both Houses of Parliament and to see the Diamond Jubilee window, a gift paid for by MPs and Peers from all political parties. The window was the idea of my colleague Michael Ellis. His ennoblement is surely only a matter of time…

When Her Majesty ascended to the throne, Winston Churchill was still Prime Minister. In a period of profound changes to our country, she has been a symbol of continuity and her record of public service is one that stands as an example to all of us.

A Budget that rewards work

At 11.30 on Wednesday morning, I rushed from the Joint Committee meeting to grab a seat for Prime Minister’s Questions and the Budget that followed it. PMQs was a rather tepid affair - Ed Miliband clearly felt he couldn’t ask about the Health & Social Care Bill again, and that’s the only topic he really feels comfortable with, so he opted for some non-partisan questions about Afghanistan and some worthy questions about the Riot Damages Act.

The Chancellor delivered the Budget with real confidence - he is one Minister who has grown in stature in office. It was good to see that in the independent Office for Budget Responsibility’s forecasts of growth, the number of people claiming unemployment-related benefits and borrowing had all improved slightly since the Autumn Statement.

Continue reading "The Parliamentary Diary of Gavin Barwell MP reflects on the Queen's visit and a 'Budget for work'" »

31 Jan 2012 18:15:43

Cameron today: Off the hook on the veto. On it over more IMF money.

By Paul Goodman
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Last year, the Prime Minister flew to Brussels amidst rumour of a leadership challenge if he didn't achieve at least a token repatriation of power.

Today, he faced the Commons not only with no such repatriation realised but with his veto - so rapturously greeted at the time by Conservative MPs - arguably valueless, since it's now clear that he won't challenge the principle of the EU institutions being used to enforce the F.U agreement.

Yet there was no mass revolt from his backbenches, and no revival to date of the leadership challenge rumours.  What explains this change in the Tory atmosphere?  I hope to explore the question in detail soon, but will for the moment rest with an answer I've cited before.

Continue reading "Cameron today: Off the hook on the veto. On it over more IMF money." »

24 Jan 2012 18:58:37

In a speech to the Holocaust Education Trust, Francis Maude says to learn from the Holocaust is to proactively fight bigotry

By Joseph Willits 
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Kat Mace, Hardeep Kalher, Francis Maude MP (1)To commemorate Holcaust Memorial Day this coming Friday, yesterday evening the Holocaust Educational Trust hosted its annual Lord Merlyn-Rees Memorial Lecture at Portcullis House. Whilst the keynote address was given by historian Sir Ian Kershaw, its guest speaker was Francis Maude.

Maude praised the work done by the Holocaust Educational Trust in its Lessons from Auschwitz Project in educating young people thoughtfully, and enabling them to return from their visit with a sensitive awareness of the actual event. Perhaps the most crucial lesson learnt from the Holocaust Educational Trust's project, is being able to apply the horrors of Auschwitz, to proactively fight prejudice in all forms on their return.

There were three main points made by Maude in his speech:

  • He spoke of the "coldness" and "horrendous industrial scale" with which a genocide of Jews was carried out by Nazi Germany in the Second World War. Perhaps alluding to current atrocities today, for example in Syria, the Holocaust wasn't carried out "in anger, surge of fury, or rage".
  • It is always important to remember, said Maude, that this genocide was carried out in "living memory" in a "European country where we thought our values were shared, and are shared now".
  • Maude concluded with a warning about tolerance, in a much broader sense, even outside the actions of Nazi Germany. Tolerance he said, wasn't "enough to answer prejudice and bigotry ... to just accept", and that the word itself had a dimension of coldness about it. His message, and that of the Holocaust Educational Trust, was to fight prejudice "proactively by active intervention". This approach was crucial he said, because "hatred can take root and flourish very quickly", and will do so again albeit in different forms.

Continue reading "In a speech to the Holocaust Education Trust, Francis Maude says to learn from the Holocaust is to proactively fight bigotry" »