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‘To Remain Silent is to Remain Complicit’ Say Lib Dems On ‘Black Lives Matter’ Campaign

Published on: 7 Jun, 2020
Updated on: 9 Jun, 2020

Zoe Franklin and Angela Richardson MP

Guildford’s Lib Dem Parliamentary Spokesperson Zoe Franklin has written an open letter to local Tory MPs criticising the Foreign Secretary and the prime minister for their silence on the “Black Lives Matter” protests.

The letter, written on Friday (June 5) is addressed to the four Conservative MP’s whose constituencies overlap the boundaries of Guildford Borough: Angela Richardson (Guildford), Michael Gove (Surrey Heath), Sir Paul Beresford (Mole Valley) and Jonathan Lord (Woking).

Ms Franklin says: “To remain silent is to remain complicit,” she asks for the export of certain munitions to be reviewed, for “the development and implementation of a [UK] government-wide plan to tackle BAME inequalities, particularly including police tactics and practices” and demands the “special relationship” with the US to be used to exert influence.

Her letter is signed by all the Lib Dem councillors at Guildford Borough Council.

Ms Richardson responded today to say: “Police brutality anywhere in the world is unacceptable.  Indeed, violence and brutality in all its forms, including that which we saw directed towards our own London Metropolitan Police Force… at the end of the perfectly peaceful Black Lives Matter demonstration in London last night (Saturday, 6 June), is completely unacceptable.”

Commenting that she had been, “heartened to see that our own Black Lives Matter march in Guildford was conducted in a responsible and sensible manner” she described how her own upbringing in a deprived, multi-cultural area of New Zealand had led her to a view that: “Black Lives Matter and this should be encompassed within the overarching view that All Lives Matter, including those of white working-class boys who are genuinely struggling in this country.  As a Conservative, my firm view is that we must do all we can to encourage equality of opportunity for all.”

And Ms Richardson includes a thank you to the Lib Dem Councillors: “… may I also take this opportunity on behalf of local residents to thank you all for your hard work and dedication to help as many as possible during these last difficult months?”

Letter from Zoe Franklin, in full:

Privilege and inequality exist in overt ways but can and do exist in more subtle ways too. Ways that we daily accept and take for granted.

A strong society must both encourage, and allow, every person to be their best. Holding people back based on the colour of their skin harms us all.

While most of us signing this letter are white and will never experience the discrimination and racism that BAME people do on a daily basis, we believe that it is crucial that we use our positions as community leaders to say ‘enough’, to amplify the concerns and demands of BAME citizens, and to take any steps available to us to bring about change.

Many local people have been deeply saddened, shocked and angered by what it is unfolding in the United States. Since the murder of George Floyd, President Donald Trump has used increasingly violent rhetoric in response to protests over racial injustice and police brutality. We have seen peaceful protesters and journalists beaten and attacked by those whose duty is supposedly to serve and protect the public.

When questioned on this last weekend, the UK Foreign Secretary refused to denounce such behaviour. The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has also remained silent, as have Conservative MPs. The UK must use our Special Relationship to condemn this inflammatory rhetoric and the use of military force to quell protests. British foreign policy must promote human rights, democracy, and the rule of law all over the world. The USA is no exception.

To remain silent is to remain complicit.

We also believe that Amnesty International is right, and we support their calls to review the export of security equipment including rubber bullets and tear gas to the USA, given the evidence that they are being used to target unarmed civilians. We hope that you will join us in supporting these calls.

The situation in the US must also be a reminder of our own record on racism and race-based issues. It is crucial as a country that, locally and nationally, we acknowledge where we have failed to act and take urgent steps to address the systematic racism and inequality present in our society. Police brutality directed overwhelmingly against BAME people, the use of force against peaceful protestors and political leaders defending racism is no less of an issue in the UK than they are abroad.

We must start with the development and implementation of a government-wide plan to tackle BAME inequalities, particularly including police tactics and practices, and follow this with a review of this plan by the Equality and Human Rights Commission to determine whether its funding is adequate.

We urge all those in positions of community leadership, who have a public platform to make statements of support and solidarity on this matter to do so, to scrutinise and hold to account our own public institutions, and to use their positions to help bring about the change needed.

Regards,

Zöe Franklin, Lib Dem Parliamentary Spokesperson for Guildford, Cranleigh & our Villages
Cllr Caroline Reeves, Council Leader & Guildford Borough Councillor for Friary & St Nicolas
Cllr John Askew, Guildford Borough Councillor for Onslow
Cllr Angela Goodwin, Guildford Borough Councillor for Friary & St Nicolas and Surrey
County Councillor for Guildford North
Cllr David Goodwin, Guildford Borough Councillor for Onslow and Surrey County Councillor
for Guildford South West
Cllr Gill Harwood, Guildford Borough Councillor for Stoughton
Cllr Jan Harwood, Guildford Borough Councillor for Merrow
Cllr Liz Hogger, Guildford Borough Councillor for Effingham
Cllr Tom Hunt, Guildford Borough Councillor for Friary & St Nicolas
Cllr Steven Lee, Guildford Borough Councillor for Merrow
Cllr Ted Mayne, Guildford Borough Councillor for Burpham
Cllr Julia McShane, Guildford Borough Councillor for Westborough
Cllr Masuk Miah, Guildford Borough Councillor for Stoughton
Cllr George Potter, Guildford Borough Councillor for Burpham
Cllr Will Salmon, Guildford Borough Councillor for Onslow
Cllr Pauline Searle, Guildford Borough Councillor for Stoughton
Cllr James Steel, Guildford Borough Councillor for Westborough
Cllr Fiona White, Guildford Borough Councillor for Westborough and Surrey County
Councillor for Guildford West

Response from Angela Richardson, in full

Dear Guildford Liberal Democrats,

Many thanks for writing to me on the matter of the tragic and brutal death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, in the United States.  Police brutality anywhere in the world is unacceptable.  Indeed, violence and brutality in all its forms, including that which we saw directed towards our own London Metropolitan Police Force, whose officers have been remarkable in their patience and restraint, at the end of the perfectly peaceful Black Lives Matter demonstration in London last night (Saturday, 6 June), is completely unacceptable.

Also unacceptable is the vandalisation of listed buildings, war memorials and statues commemorating historic figures, such as Abraham Lincoln, who ended slavery in the United States and was killed because of it, and Winston Churchill, whose leadership during the Second World War have ensured that we, today, have the right to assemble and protest peacefully.

I was heartened to see that our own Black Lives Matter march in Guildford was conducted in a responsible and sensible manner and therefore, the larger and more important argument of inequality was not undermined by people who often seek to hijack these protests for their own unhelpful and sadly sometimes violent ends.  My thanks to the organisers for doing such a brilliant job, encouraging the attendees to wear masks and socially distance and thanks also to our local police for facilitating the safety and security of the marchers.

On a personal level, I am grateful to have grown up in the melting pot of cultural and racial diversity that was and still is West Auckland, New Zealand, attending the local schools with families from Maori, Pacific Island, Indian, Chinese, Malaysian and many other ethnicities along with those of us who hailed from British descent.  The social fabric was a rich tapestry interwoven with much more than our different ethnicities, it was an area of socio-economic deprivation and associated difficulties, but in a country that is very egalitarian in its stance and therefore, aspiration was positively encouraged no matter the colour of your skin.

It’s an aspiration that I would want to see for all, across the globe, regardless of skin colour, gender or sexual orientation.  In my view, Black Lives Matter and this should be encompassed within the overarching view that All Lives Matter, including those of white working-class boys who are genuinely struggling in this country.  As a Conservative, my firm view is that we must do all we can to encourage equality of opportunity for all.

I enjoyed participating in the March4Women in London in 2017 and the Colour March in 2018 marking 100 years of suffrage for the first tranche of women to receive the vote.  I will always uphold the right to peaceful demonstration as being a fundamental part of our well-functioning democracy.

As you have all written to me as local councillors on this matter, may I also take this opportunity on behalf of local residents to thank you all for your hard work and dedication to help as many as possible during these last difficult months?  I know we have all been working hard, at all levels of government, to help as many as we can.

There are tough political decisions that you will have to make at local level as we ease out of lockdown and therefore, even though I note you have handed over half of the Executive positions at Guildford Borough Council to the Residents for Guildford and Villages group and will, in due course, be handing over leadership to them, I’m sure you will do all you can to deliver on the manifesto commitments you made to our residents in May 2019, as I will work with Government to deliver on our manifesto commitments including a massive levelling-up agenda across the country.

With best wishes,

Angela

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test 7 Responses to ‘To Remain Silent is to Remain Complicit’ Say Lib Dems On ‘Black Lives Matter’ Campaign

  1. John Perkins Reply

    June 8, 2020 at 9:31 am

    I agree that silence implies complicity and look forward to the signatories demanding something also be done about the brutality shown towards protesters in Hong Kong and the oppression of the Uighurs in mainland China.

    • George Potter Reply

      June 8, 2020 at 5:56 pm

      I cannot speak for anyone other than myself, but I for one have been vociferous in condemning both the genocide of the Uighurs in China and the brutality shown towards Hong Kong protestors.

      The difference is, of course, that our MP doesn’t have any influence over the actions of the Chinese government but should absolutely have a say in what actions our own government takes in the UK.

      George Potter is a Lib Dem borough councillor for Burpham

      • Stephen Dole Reply

        June 11, 2020 at 8:25 pm

        George Potter is conflating race problems in the USA with race relations in this country.

  2. Jim Allen Reply

    June 8, 2020 at 11:41 am

    I am getting very tired of the misuse and re-defining of important words in the English language to suit a political narrative.

    Silence does not imply anything and definitely does not imply “complicity” (criminal complicity in criminal law refers to instances when someone is legally accountable or liable for a criminal offence, based upon the behaviour of another).

    That is a presumption that every silent person knows the truth about what is going on and has the ability to put forward a rational argument and that he or she understands the complexity of the problem as seen by the cultural aspects of the matter in the country it is occurring.

    Finally, no one who is silent is legally liable for the actions of a person in another country for they cannot control. So please, can we have less explosive language and more rational discussion.

    • Jeremy Holt Reply

      June 9, 2020 at 2:32 pm

      First, as Zoe Franklin says, “to remain silent is to remain complicit”.

      I am therefore forced to say as Guildford Park Avenue Residents Association Parliamentary Spokesperson that The Guildford Dragon should not allow contributors (such as myself) to describe themselves so preposterously.

      Second, Jim Allen is entirely correct.

  3. Sue Hackman Reply

    June 9, 2020 at 11:14 am

    I support the statement from Zoe Franklin and our Lib Dem councillors.

    So I ask, what are they going to do to secure better chances for black lives locally, and to engage everyone in cultural and political life here?

    Incidentally, the Labour Party is proud to field a representative proportion of ethnic minorities in local elections.

    Sue Hackman is a member of Guildford Labour Party’s Executive Committee.

  4. John Perkins Reply

    June 9, 2020 at 11:20 am

    Vocally supporting something in private is not the same as writing to MPs in a public capacity demanding they take action over a single issue in a foreign country. The rule must be applied to all issues in all countries, not just one.

    Another example might be those people who injured at least 14 police in a riot described by the BBC as “largely peaceful”. Silence implies complicity.

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