Silence is Not an Option - A letter to the MPs of Guildford Borough

June 5, 2020 6:15 PM

Today Zöe Franklin sent this letter to the Conservative MPs who represent Guildford Borough and Cranleigh & our Villages. It is co-signed by all of the Liberal Democrat councillors on Guildford Borough Council.

5th June 2020

Dear Ms Richardson and Messrs Gove, Lord, Beresford

SILENCE IS NOT AN OPTION

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

For those who are proudly supporting Black Lives Matter and wish to go further than warm words we are encouraging donations to the following causes: