It’s time to see red about the world’s indifference to genocide, crimes against humanity and persecution. Red Wednesday was on November 22nd. Read details here.

 

 

Red Wednesday 2017 The Times

2017 Red Wednesday stonyhurstred-white

Stonyhurst College, Lancashire: Red Wednesday November 22nd 2017.

DavidAlton.net

Red Wednesday was on November 22nd. It’s time to see red about the world’s indifference to genocide, crimes against humanity and persecution. 

1116UK_#RedWednesday motif

Red Wednesday Walsingham 2017

Red Wednesday 2017 at Walsingham, Norfolk.

22nd November 2017 #RedWednesday Event London

Standing in solidarity with those suffering for their faith

By John Newton

#REDWEDNESDAY is a sign to those who suffer for their faith around the world that they are not forgotten – according to the newly appointed Coptic Orthodox Bishop of London.

            Coptic Orthodox Bishop Angaelos’ remarks came during an address he gave at a service outside Westminster Cathedral to mark #RedWednesday (22nd November) which drew attention to the persecution of Christians and members of other faiths.

Pointing to the busy streets of London, Bishop Angaelos said:  “In the midst of all of this, it is unfathomable to think that there are still hundreds of millions potentially who suffer for their faith today.

“As…

View original post 2,342 more words

Why Liverpool University would be wrong to remove Mr.Gladstone’s name from a hall of residence in Mossley Hill

 

Why Liverpool University would be wrong to remove Mr.Gladstone’s name from a hall of residence in Mossley Hill

Gladstone2

 

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-merseyside-42000256

 

See Liverpool John Moores University Roscoe Lecture :

https://davidalton.net/2012/02/18/gladstone-lecture-liverpool-son-of-liverpool-scourge-of-tyrants/

Gladstone – Son of Liverpool, Scourge of Tyrants
Roscoe Lecture
Audio: Gladstone – son of Liverpool, Scourge of Tyrants – Tuesday 2 October 2009 – Roscoe Lecture

Extract:

 

 Days after the Abolition Bill was passed in 1833 (and which Gladstone had opposed) his friend, Henry Wilberforce, took him to the deathbed of his father, William. Gladstone prayed with William Wilberforce and ten days later he attended his funeral at Westminster Abbey. Gladstone said: “It brought me solemn thoughts, particularly about the slaves. This is a burdensome question.” Just as he later embraced the cause of wider electoral representation, Gladstone renounced his support of slavery and admitted that Wilberforce had profoundly affected him: “I can see plainly enough the sad defects, the real illiberalism of my opinions on that subject.”

 

Gladstone changed his mind and went on to become the greatest of our peace time Prime Ministers. 

Gladstone son of Liverpool scourge of ppt 2 1    Gladstone slides 26-52Gladstone slides 52-81Gladstone slides 81-107Gladstone slides 107-133Gladstone’s Speech at Hengler’s CircusUniverse Column.doc Gladstone

Gladstone 1

Why Katie Ascough Deserves Our Admiration. She Has Been PC In The Best Sense – Politically Courageous. Also Speech delivered to commemorate the anniversary of more than 8 million babies lives ended in the womb. And a runner in the London Marathon who put the unborn child up front.

Here is someone, 30 years ago, leading the London Marathon Race and using the opportunity to support the unborn child https://youtu.be/9tuwo_Xd5fw?t=1392

DavidAlton.net

Why Katie Ascough Deserves Our Admiration.

Katie Ascough1University College Dublin (UCD) students have voted to impeach their Students’ Union President Katie Ascough.  They did this because she bravely refused to distribute advertising to promote the ending of lives through abortion.   She refused to be bullied into breaking Irish law and she courageously upheld the principle of freedom of speech.

Katie has been on the end of a campaign of political correctness but she has shown a different kind of PC – political courage.  She may have lost a vote but she has won great admiration.  Ireland needs wonderful women like Katie in public life and I hope that one day we may see her elected President of something more worthy than her student union.

After the vote she spoke with great dignity saying:

Addressing a large crowd of students after the final results of the vote were announced she said

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Plea To China – Don’t Reaptriate North Korean Refugees – including a 4 year old child – who could face execution if sent back. Urge MPs and Legislators to make representations on their behalf.

.Plea To China – Don’t Reaptriate North Korean Refugees – including a 4 year old child – who could face execution if sent back. Urge MPs and Legislators to make representations on their behalf.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-41952298

 

A North Korean man has pleaded with the Chinese president Xi Jinping not to forcibly repatriate his wife and young son, saying they face imprisonment or death if sent home.

The woman and her four-year-old son are understood to have been among a group of 10 North Koreans detained in China last week after secretly crossing the border.

The man, who asked to be identified only as Lee, fled to South Korea in 2015. He recorded his plea in a video message, which was passed to the BBC.

He said his wife and son would “either face execution or wither away in a political prison camp” if sent back to North Korea.

“I wish China’s Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump would think of my child as their grandchild and send my son to the free country, South Korea,” he said.

“Please help us. Save my family from repatriation. As the father, I beg the two leaders to help my family. Please help us.”

He said he was haunted by images of his young son in detention.

“I can almost hear my baby calling my name,” he said. “I can see my baby in that cold cell, crying out for his father. I can’t just stand by doing nothing.”

The group of 10 defectors was arrested in a raid on a safe house in Shenyang in Liaoning province, north-east China, on 4 November.

China’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a news briefing that she was unaware of details of the case. She said China consistently upholds the handling of such matters in accordance with domestic and international law and humanitarian principles.

The arrests come amid a crackdown by China on North Korean defectors. Chinese security services have apprehended at least 49 North Koreans in the three months between July and September, according to the charity Human Rights Watch – a significant jump from the 51 people recorded as having been detained over the entire previous 12 months.

At least nine of those arrested over the past three months are known to have been forcibly repatriated back to North Korea, according to Human Rights Watch.

“North Korean refugees and their families overseas deserve international support,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director for the charity, said in a statement.

“Governments around the world and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees should call on China to stop sending North Koreans back across the border to face torture, forced labour, sexual abuse, and worse,” he said.

Lord Alton, who is co-chair of the UK’s cross-party parliamentary group on North Korea‎, told the BBC he had urged the British government to intervene.

“Anyone who has read the United Nations’ report on North Korea’s crimes against humanity knows that these escapees face torture, imprisonment, forced labour or even execution,” he said.

“That’s why I have asked the British Government to urge the Chinese authorities not to send these escapees back to North Korea.”

between the two Koreas is heavily policed

China forcibly repatriates North Koreans despite being a party to the 1951 UN Convention on Refugees, which obliges signatories not to return refugees if it may put them at risk of persecution or torture.

It regards the defectors as illegal migrants rather than refugees.

In 2014, the UN Commission of Inquiry on human rights said North Korea was responsible for “systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations” and “crimes against humanity”.

“The gravity, scale and nature of these violations reveal a State that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world,” its report said.

The number of North Koreans defecting to South Korea dropped by 13% this year, officials in Seoul say. From January to August, 780 North Koreans escaped to South Korea, the Unification Ministry said.

The fall is believed to be a result of tighter government surveillance and reinforced border security by both North Korea and China.

Mr Lee’s appeal comes as the US president tours the region. Mr Trump met with his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-In on Wednesday before travelling to China to meet with Mr Xi the following day.

Speaking in front of South Korea’s parliament, intensified his war of words with the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, calling North Korea a “country ruled as a cult”.

“At the centre of this military cult is a deranged belief in the leader’s destiny to rule as parent protector over a conquered Korean peninsula and an enslaved Korean people,” he said.

 

The Cheshire Pitt Club – Toast to William Pitt The Younger Following A Speech Entitled O My Country. How I Love My Country. But Do We? November 2017

DavidAlton.net

O My Country. How I Love My Country.  But do We?

David Alton – November 3rd 2017.

william-pitt-the-younger-quote-oh-my-country-how-i-leave-my-country William Pitt 1

Professor Wheeler: thank you for that generous introduction. I hope that one day my obituary reads as well!

You made several remarks about my age when I was elected as a City Councillor and Member of the House of Commons.

It’s passing strange but when all of us were young, and were asked our age, we would tell people that we were five and a half or six and a half, and so on. As we got older we quietly dropped the reference to the half and as the years pass are likely to be more like the American comedian, Bob Hope, who famously said ’I’ve found the secret of eternal youth. I lie about my age.’

Having been a one time the baby of the House of Commons I’m going…

View original post 3,500 more words

It’s time to see red about the world’s indifference to genocide, crimes against humanity and persecution. Red Wednesday was on November 22nd. Read details here.

Red Wednesday was on November 22nd. It’s time to see red about the world’s indifference to genocide, crimes against humanity and persecution. 

1116UK_#RedWednesday motif

Red Wednesday Walsingham 2017

Red Wednesday 2017 at Walsingham, Norfolk.

22nd November 2017 #RedWednesday Event London

 

Standing in solidarity with those suffering for their faith

By John Newton

 

#REDWEDNESDAY is a sign to those who suffer for their faith around the world that they are not forgotten – according to the newly appointed Coptic Orthodox Bishop of London.

            Coptic Orthodox Bishop Angaelos’ remarks came during an address he gave at a service outside Westminster Cathedral to mark #RedWednesday (22nd November) which drew attention to the persecution of Christians and members of other faiths.

Pointing to the busy streets of London, Bishop Angaelos said:  “In the midst of all of this, it is unfathomable to think that there are still hundreds of millions potentially who suffer for their faith today.

“As Christians, of course, we focus on the plight of our brothers and sisters. But as Christians we also recognise the absolute right… to us all made in [God’s] image and likeness – whether Christian or another faith or of no faith at all – to have that freedom to choose. And today we stand together for that.”

            Bishop Angaelos drew attention to the #RedWednesday campaign which saw dozens of churches floodlit red across the UK – including Westminster Cathedral behind him.

            The Coptic Orthodox Bishop of London said: “It is essential that we stand together, not only tonight, not only when our buildings are lit red – as is our cathedral – to signify not only the blood of the martyrs but the continued struggle of those who have faith during these days.”

He added: We come here and we think that this is just us standing here in the midst of London, but I assure you that your sisters and brothers around the world – Christians and otherwise – are moved by your witness. It strengthens them, it inspires them, it assures them that they are not forgotten.”

He reported that there were now 13 million Christians in Egypt – where the Coptic Orthodox Church began – and that today they represent around 80 percent of all Christians in the Middle East.

Bishop Angaelos said: “In neighbouring countries our brothers and sisters have either left or more tragically lost their lives.”

The service on Westminster Cathedral Piazza, which started at 6pm, also included music by Soul Sanctuary Gospel Choir, video presentations as well as speeches.

Among the speakers were Jim Shannon MP, Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief, Mervyn Thomas, Chief Executive Officer of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Athanasius Toma, Westminster’s Auxiliary Bishop Nicholas Hudson, Ahsan Ahmedi, Regional President of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community UK. 

The event was preceded by a procession to the cathedral piazza with a life-size cross from London’s Houses of Parliament – which were lit up red in solidarity.

Teenager Hannah Chowdhry, a volunteer with the British Pakistani Christian Association, described the situation of Christians in Pakistan, adding: “700 Christian Girls are kidnapped, raped and forced into Islamic marriage every year – yet the world stays silent. 

“The average age of those abducted is 13. To help you gain some perspective I am also 13.”

Speaking during the service, Neville Kyrke-Smith, National Director, Aid to the Church in Need (UK), said: “Surely in this day and age, it is unacceptable that someone should be denied work, housing, liberty – or even lose their life – because of their religious belief? Yet this is what is happening in so many parts of the world.

“So I am delighted that so many are supporting our campaign – at Aid to the Church in Need  with Christian Solidarity Worldwide and others – to stand up for the rights of everyone to follow their Faith without coercion, reprisals or persecution.”

Mr Kyrke-Smith noted that numerous churches were going red not only across the UK but also in Ireland, Malta, Gibraltar, the Philippines, and parts of the USA.

More than 200 people had attended a vigil ceremony for #RedWednesday at Armagh Cathedral. Waterford, Sligo, Galway and Thurles Cathedrals also lit up red.

In the Philippines 47 cathedrals, 29 basilicas and shrines took part in the red floodlighting campaign.

=========================================================================Red Wednesday Walsingham 2017

Venue: Westminster Cathedral Piazza

Event:  Join us for a evening of solidarity and witness for our persecuted brothers and sisters. This is an important opportunity to come together in solidarity and to stand up for faith and freedom. Time: 6:00pm Gather for music and film | 6:30pm Illumination of Westminster Cathedral, speakers, film and prayer.

 

houses of parliament on red wednesday

 

UK Parliament to go red for #RedWednesday

  • 10 UK cathedrals expected to be floodlit red on 22nd November

 

By John Pontifex

 

THE Houses of Parliament in Westminster are to be floodlit red for #RedWednesday, the initiative which calls on people to shine a light on persecution and stand up for faith and freedom.

The decision for the iconic building in central London to go red on the evening of Wednesday, 22nd November was made jointly by John Bercow MP, the Speaker of the House of Commons and Lord Fowler, Speaker of the House of Lords.

Both Speakers were lobbied by parliamentarians, many of whom had been contacted by constituents inspired by #RedWednesday’s message of religious tolerance.

Among those calling for Parliament to turn red was Trevor Harrison, from Sevenoaks, who wrote to his MP, Sir Michael Fallon.

Responding to news that his request had been granted, he said he contacted his MP after attending an event in Parliament organised by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom or Belief – itself a supporter of #RedWednesday.

Speaking to Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, which is organising #Red Wednesday in partnership with Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Mr Harrison said: “Turning Parliament red is a wonderful way to get the message about religious freedom to as wide an audience as possible.”

“We all need to get behind #RedWednesday – we need to stand together against violence carried out in the name of religion – we need to speak up about regimes which persecute people of faith.”

This will be the second year running that Parliament will turn red for #RedWednesday.

So far this year, at least 10 cathedrals across the UK have pledged to floodlight red including London’s Westminster Cathedral and others in Ayr, Edinburgh, Paisley, Birmingham, Norwich, Wrexham, Derry and Armagh.  

In total, nearly 50 public buildings are expected to get behind #RedWednesday – schools, colleges and churches including London’s St Martin-in-the-Fields and All Souls, Langham Place.

There will be a week of events from 19-26 November with #RedWednesday as the highlight and parishes will be holding vigils.

At 6pm on 22nd November a solidarity service will take place outside Westminster Cathedral, with talks, witness testimonies, a video message by MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, music and speeches by Coptic Orthodox Bishop Angaelos, Neville Kyrke-Smith, National Director, Aid to the Church in Need (UK) and Mervyn Thomas, Chief Executive of Christian Solidarity Worldwide.

Throughout the day, a traditional London red bus emblazoned with #RedWednesday slogans will be criss-crossing the capital, stopping at London landmarks.

 

For information about #RedWednesday on 22nd November and attend #RedWednesday events including joining the London bus and attending the 6pm event outside Westminster Cathedral,  use the contact information below.

 

Contact information: www.acnuk.org/redwednesday.

ACN UK Press team news@acnuk.org

ACN Head of Press & Information John Pontifex – 0781 559 1427

ACN Senior Press Officer Dr John Newton – 020 8661 5167

ACN Digital Media Officer Murcadha O Flaherty – 020 8661 5175

 

 

 

 

ACN UK News: Monday, 6th November 2017 – UK

With #RedWednesday motif

Get ready to light up red

  • #RedWednesday – 22nd November – promoting faith and tolerance
  • At least 10 cathedrals across the UK pledge to light up red

 

By John Pontifex

 

MORE than 30 cathedrals, churches and schools from the west coast of Scotland to the south coast of England have so far pledged to take part in #RedWednesday as the UK prepares to stand up for faith and freedom.

With less than three weeks to go until #RedWednesday – 22nd November – Christian groups from across the UK have said they will take part in the initiative which aims to promote faith and tolerance in society, stand in solidarity with victims of persecution, and oppose violence and oppression carried out in the name of religion.

Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), which is organising #RedWednesday with support from Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), is inviting people to wear an item of red clothing on the day.

#RedWednesday organisers – who chose red to symbolise martyrdom and suffering – are appealing for public buildings to be floodlit red on the day.

They are also asking people to share images of their activities on social media using the hashtag.

According to latest ACN reports, cathedrals will be going red across the UK – in Wales and Northern Ireland as well as England and Scotland.

Among those pledging to light up red on the 22nd November are St Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh; St Margaret’s Cathedral, Ayr; St Mary’s Cathedral, Wrexham; St Mirin Cathedral, Paisley; St John the Baptist Cathedral, Norwich – and in Birmingham both St Chad’s Catholic Cathedral and St Philip’s Church of England Cathedral will be taking part.

Getting involved in #RedWednesday will be students from throughout the UK including Cumbria, North Ayrshire, Glasgow, Surrey and Cambridge, as well those from various institutes in London.

Meanwhile, a red bus emblazoned with the #RedWednesday slogan – “Stand Up for Faith and Freedom” – will tour central London.

It is scheduled to stop at iconic venues, including St Paul’s Cathedral, St Martin in the Fields, Trafalgar Square and Lambeth Palace.

The bus’s final destination will be a floodlit Westminster Cathedral.

There on the steps outside will be a service with Gospel music, persecution witness testimonies and speeches by Church leaders and politicians – as well as ACN (UK) National Director Neville Kyrke-Smith and CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas.

Inviting people to get involved in #RedWednesday, the initiative’s coordinator Patricia Hatton from ACN said: “#RedWednesday is a unique opportunity to stand up for faith and freedom in this country and around the world and to shine a light on the persecution of Christians and other faith groups today.

“We need people to take the issue of religious freedom seriously so we are inviting parish and prayer groups, families and students to Westminster Cathedral Piazza on #RedWednesday, gathering at 6pm with music and film ahead of the prayer service.

“Please wear something red. Together let’s make a stand for faith and freedom and help Christians and others – especially in the Middle East – who urgently need our support this Christmas.”

Also floodlit in red will be England’s National Shrine of Our Lady, Walsingham, Norfolk; Our Lady Immaculate Parish, Bournemouth; Cardinal Newman High School, Bellshill; St Columba’s Church, Inverness; Farm Street Church, London; St Mary’s University, Twickenham; Stonyhurst College, Clitheroe; Lancaster University Catholic Chaplaincy; Holy Name Church, Manchester; St Joseph’s, Bromyard and St Joseph’s, Pontefract.

========================================================================================================================================================

#RedWednesday

Start: 18 Nov 2017 13:00 End: 27 Nov 2017 22:00 United Kingdom

 

Red is the Christian colour of martyrdom.

 

Christians are the most persecuted faith group in today’s world and #RedWednesday will honour all those who suffer and die for their faithfulness to Christ’s message of peace and love. #RedWednesday will shine a light on Christian persecution but also highlight the injustices perpetrated against other faith groups. The Aid to the Church in Need campaign calls for respect and tolerance for people of faith and between different faith traditions.

 

#RedWednesday 2017 will bring together Christians and other faith communities across the UK in a positive and untied vision of freedom of religious belief.

 

Stand in solidarity with persecuted Christians and all who suffer for their peacefully-held beliefs.

 

Aid to the Church in Need are holding a week of events from the 18th – 26th November with #RedWednesday as the highlight on Wednesday 22nd November

 

 

18th November 2017

 

Walk of Witness – the Deanery of Marylebone has organised a Procession of Witness for the persecuted Christians in the Middle East on 18 November – from All Saints Margaret Street, near Oxford Circus, to the Church of the Annunciation, Marble Arch, along Oxford Street. It starts at 12.45, preceded by a short communion service at 12 noon for those who want.

 

Churches throughout Westminster as part of the Churches together network are taking part. The larger the numbers the more impact it will have.

 

This may also be something other Churches Together networks in other towns and cities might like to do, especially around Advent / Christmas time in shopping areas.

22nd November 2017 #RedWednesday Event London

 

Venue: Westminster Cathedral Piazza

Event:  Join us for a evening of solidarity and witness for our persecuted brothers and sisters. This is an important opportunity to come together in solidarity and to stand up for faith and freedom. Time: 6:00pm Gather for music and film | 6:30pm Illumination of Westminster Cathedral, speakers, film and prayer.

22nd November 2017 #RedWednesday Event Norwich

 

Venue: The Roman Catholic Cathedral of John the Baptist, Unthank Road, Norwich NR2 2PA
Event: #RedWednesday Mass
Time: 7:00pm
Celebrant: Bishop Alan Hopes

ALL are welcome, the Cathedral will be lit red on the evening for #RedWednesday and in solidarity with persecuted Christians and other persecuted minorities

26th November 2017

Go to Mass for Someone Who Cannot

Aid to the Church in Need is asking every Catholic to make the small sacrifice of going to one extra Mass to pray for one of the 200 million Christians who are facing the threat of persecution for their faith and even risking death to receive Jesus in The Eucharist.

Will you go to one extra Mass and offer it for a persecuted Christian? Bring hope to the persecuted Church.

 

27th November 2017

 

Going, Going, Gone? The Last Chance to Save and Return the Christian Middle East. Persecuted but Not Forgotten – A lecture by John Pontifex, Aid to the Church in Need UK’s Head of Press and Information. By kind invitation of Bishop Hlib Lonchyna

Followed by a Reception: £10 Donation, proceeds to ACN UK. All welcome. RSVP johnchrysostom@btinternet.com

Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Family
Duke Street
London
W1K 5BQ

Find your local #RedWednesday Event = https://acnuk.org/campaign/redwednesday/

 

Get involved this #REDWEDNESDAY by wearing red, by lighting buildings or landmarks red (with permission and if already floodlit) and by holding peaceful prayer events

 

How to Light your Church Red: Patricia Hatton, ACN UK’s Head of Fundraising and Marketing speaks about the importance of #RedWednesday and how everyone can get involved and stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters. https://acnuk.org/campaign/redwednesday/

 

See also Christian Solidarity Worldwide = http://www.csw.org.uk/redwednesday17

 

The Cheshire Pitt Club – Toast to William Pitt The Younger Following A Speech Entitled O My Country. How I Love My Country. But Do We? November 2017

O My Country. How I Love My Country.  But do We?

David Alton – November 3rd 2017.

william-pitt-the-younger-quote-oh-my-country-how-i-leave-my-country William Pitt 1

Professor Wheeler: thank you for that generous introduction. I hope that one day my obituary reads as well!

You made several remarks about my age when I was elected as a City Councillor and Member of the House of Commons.

It’s passing strange but when all of us were young, and were asked our age, we would tell people that we were five and a half or six and a half, and so on. As we got older we quietly dropped the reference to the half and as the years pass are likely to be more like the American comedian, Bob Hope, who famously said ’I’ve found the secret of eternal youth. I lie about my age.’

Having been a one time the baby of the House of Commons I’m going to express what may seem the counter intuitive view that we should beware of creating a cult of youth worship. Experience, courage and wisdom count for more. Qualities such as character and merit are not merely matters of age.

 

We should always look for individual merit – regardless of age – and even more importantly, look for those to whom we can pass on our values, our love of our country and its institutions.

 

But don’t let’s despise youth either.

 

William Pitt the Younger, in whose honour we are gathered, was elected to the House of Commons for the Appleby Constituency at the age of 21 and in 1783, at the age of 24 became the country’s youngest ever Prime Minister – serving in that high office for 18 years and 343 days.

 images

The Rolliad – an eighteenth-century satire lampooned him for his youth:

 

Above the rest, majestically great, Behold the infant Atlas of the state, The matchless miracle of modern days, In whom Britannia to the world displays A sight to make surrounding nations stare; A kingdom trusted to a school-boy’s care.

Two hundred years later he was still being parodied, now by Blackadder with Pitt, the Even Younger’s mother looking for a babysitter to take the new Member to Parliament.

 

But at least he had graduated from being described as Pitt the Embryo or Pitt the Toddler!

It is said that William Wilberforce (himself, a few years later, the youngest member of the House of Commons) remarked to Pitt: “No one of our age has ever taken power.”   To which he replied: “Which is why we’re too young to realize certain things are impossible. So, we will do them anyway.” 
The very last words attributed to the no longer young William Pitt provide the title for my remarks this evening: “O My Country. How I Love My Country.”   His love of his country is what motivated Pitt throughout a life devoted to public service.

The purpose of your Club is to keep fresh the memory of this great, patriotic and illustrious statesman and to attain this objective by reflecting on some of the challenges of the day and their solutions, and to encourage Pitt-like integrity, humanity, determination and judgement, in a world that is in danger of forgetting such fundamentals. 

 

Although Pitt just made it into the nineteenth century, dying in 1806, his values and virtues are greatly needed in our own times – not least in the very institutions that he helped to shape.

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Pitt died three years before the birth in Liverpool of William Ewart Gladstone – and who left office in March 1894, aged 84, as the oldest person to serve as Prime minister and the only Prime Minister to serve four terms. Gladstone, who died not so far away, at Hawarden Castle, was known affectionately as the GOM – the Grand Old Man – Disraeli said that the acronym really meant “God’s Only Mistake.”

 

Perhaps these two remarkable men – Pitt and Gladstone – young and old – who bookended the nineteenth century – tells us something very important about age: a thought captured well by Robert Kennedy when he said:

robert-f-kennedy

“This world demands the qualities of youth; not a time of life but a state of mind, a temper of the will, a quality of the imagination, a predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the life of ease.”

It’s merit and qualities of character that matter, then – not being young or old.

Pitt’s farewell thought, his insistence that we should love our country, has something else in common with Gladstone – who said that “instead of the love of power we need the power to love.”

Loving and serving your country has for too many gone out of fashion – and too often we have been reduced to a sort of self-loathing. In some circles love of country has even been replaced by hate of country. We have seen this at its worst in the garb of Islamic State terrorists in Manchester and London and by IS fighters from Britain terrorising whole populations from Aleppo to Raqqa and Mosul.  

Closer to home hatred of country has been magnified by the vitriol that pours out over the anti-social media into the Twittersphere.

What would Pitt have made of coarse and venomous tweets that attempt to destroy reputations and trivialise serious debate; what would he have made of toxic and often poisonous posts – sometimes promoted by interests from beyond our shores – that have become a Tier One threat to the conduct of democratic politics, to our culture and, through cyber war, even to national security?

William_Pitt_the_Younger_at_Westminster facing Fox in St.Stephen's chapel

Pitt believed that intelligent debate had to be informed debate and he spent his entire life grappling, in depth, with the great issues of his day. By contrast, we trivialise and sensationalise; we reduce complex and sophisticated arguments to 280 characters, debasing both the language and the contents – rendering nuance and shades of grey an impossibility. 

In pre-electronic times Pitt insisted on being provided with objective and impartial information on which to base his judgements: not fake news or ideology dressed up as information.

But unlike his father – Lord Chatham – Pitt was not stubbornly against change and he was capable of embracing great causes – believing that evolution is always the best antidote to revolution. Pitt was not obsessed with right versus left but more interested in right versus wrong.

Look at some of today’s parliamentarians and measure them against their causes.  If their only reason for going into politics is to promote an ideology or to climb Disraeli’s greasy pole they will inevitably come tumbling down. Pitt was less interested in being things than in doing things. He was the personification of public service – a concept which is neglected in too much of political life today.

I think Pitt would be deeply saddened by the multiple crises facing our great institutions. David Henry Thoreau was right when he said that “if you cut down all the trees there will be nowhere left for the birds to sing”. We need to exercise great caution before cutting down our public and political institutions – doing so will weaken the State and make us susceptible to those who seek to stoke violent upheaval and to destroy it from within. If narrow interests supersede the national interest it will lead to deep social unrest which will be difficult to contain.

In the eighteenth century, Pitt’s great rival was Charles Fox – perhaps the Jeremy Corbyn or John McDonnell of his day – and whose opinions were some of the most radical ever to be aired in the House of Commons of his era – on one occasion even dressing in the uniform of England’s American enemies; a supporter of the French Revolution; and with little interest in the intricacies of government or the responsible exercise of political power; he preferred public meetings, some as big as 30,000. He was everything that Pitt was not.

For all that, Fox was sometimes right – in his defence of liberty, for instance, his dislike of war, and his promotion of religious toleration and in his opposition to slavery.

But, if the cause was just, Pitt could be won over.  Pitt would weigh the issues carefully and with great wisdom – and in eschewing revolution he could be convinced of the case for reform – supporting Catholic emancipation, administrative reforms and commercial and fiscal policies that balanced the books. He drove down debt and pursued fiscally responsible policies, living within our means, policies that would be emulated by Gladstone 50 years later. 

I think Pitt would be shocked by our national profligacy and indifference to debt – both corporate and personal.

What would he make of the UK’s national debt today – which last year went well over£1.5 trillion – about 38% of GDP – with £200bn of debt amassed on credit cards, personal loans and car deals now at the same level it reached before the 2008 financial crisis? The Office for Budget responsibility predicts that unsecured household debt will reach 21% of income by 2021 – with families being pushed into destitution by the actions of loan sharks and finance companies with sky-high interest charges.

Pitt would have seen how corrosive such indebtedness is to individuals, families, communities and country and he would have said it was his patriotic duty to do something about it. 

He once remarked: “You may take from me, Sir, the privileges and emoluments of place, but you cannot, and you shall not, take from me those habitual and warm regards for the prosperity of Great Britain which constitute the honour, the happiness, the pride of my life, and which, I trust, death alone can extinguish.”

Pitt had seen the country’s national debt double to £243 million during the American Civil War – with one third of the budget of £24 million used to pay off interest. He created a sinking fund which added £1 million annually to the fund so that it could pay off the interest and then the debt – which he cut to £170 million. By tackling smuggling and making it easier for honest merchants to import goods he grew the customs revenue by nearly £2 million.

With HMRC estimating that tax fraud costs the Government a staggering £16 billion every year they could take a leaf out of Mr.Pitt’s book. Think how many hospitals or homes that would build – or how it might be used to mitigate student loans – and the albatross of indebtedness that we hang around young necks.

Instead of today’s obsessive interest in fringe issues Pitt always steered the ship of State in the direction of the fundamental challenges that affected the everyday lives of the British people. Perhaps when a fox arrives at Westminster holding a placard, demanding “save the human race”, we will see the disproportionality of some of the causes we embrace.

In addition to his reputation as the man who balanced the books, Pitt also modernized the office of Prime Minister. And Pitt, a parliamentarian to his finger-tips, loved the House of Commons and was an astute parliamentarian – defying parliamentary gravity and House of Commons votes of confidence to hold his Governments together. Some of our Cabinet Ministers – as well as Opposition leaders – should consider whether, in the national interest, they should follow his example of putting the country before personal or party advantage.

By contrast we can see contemporary national disunity very clearly in the context of Brexit.

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In the 2016 referendum, I was a reluctant remainer – reluctant because although I believe that what had been called the European Community served Europe well, building on the Common Market and the desirability of creating peaceful trading relations between previously warring European nations, I wholly oppose the creation of a Union that aims to create a single State.

The first political meeting that I attended was as a teenager in 1968 to hear an erudite but rather dry speaker extol the virtues of the Common Market. His arguments, but even more so the wartime experiences of my father and grandfather, clinched my support for entering the Common Market. My father had seen action at Monte Casino and in the North African desert, his brother was killed in the RAF, and my grandfather had been in the Flanders trenches and later in Mesopotamia and the Holy Land.

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Siegfried Sassoon’s Great War poetry, 100 years after 20,000 British and Empire soldiers lost their lives on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, vividly recalls the horror of those catastrophic events.

Notwithstanding this, in 2007, I opposed the Lisbon treaty because it encouraged greater centralisation instead of subsidiarity – a key ideal of the founding fathers. This, in turn, had led to further bureaucratisation of the EU and the determination of elites to create a United States of Europe. This, I believe, led to the outcome last year when, by a majority of 1,269,501 votes (3.9%) people voted to leave the EU. The House of Commons subsequently voted to trigger Article 50.

 Many of the votes cast in the referendum were angry votes. That anger, fuelled by a scepticism about Europe’s failure to deal with a mass migration was hardly assuaged by Jean-Claude Juncker’s arrogance in telling us that however we voted it would not make any difference. It is bad enough that millions of our poorer citizens believe that the establishment has become impervious to their concerns and their fate, but it would be unbelievably dangerous to tell 17.5 million people that they will be resisted and not listened to.

If, like Pitt, they love their country, Parliamentarians now have a duty to work in the national interest and to produce the best possible outcome for the UK. I think he would be telling MPs to get a grip.

Pitt understood that our nation has a duty to lead and that politicians have a duty to form alliances in the national interest. Pitt, I think, would have admired the European Community but not the Union and would have insisted on the ultimate importance of national sovereignty

He said, in words which are remarkably apposite today:  

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He also knew what marked out a great nation – eschewing the idea that self- interest and vested interest are more important than the common good. He had a high view of a politics based on principles rather than expediency.

 

“Necessity” he said, “is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves”

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Pitt believed, as I do, that a man who loves his country does not need to debase it by remaining silent about threats to human freedom.

On Tuesday, I chaired a meeting that was addressed by a young man called Edward Leung.  He is a student who helped to organise the Hong Kong umbrella protests against the increasing infringements of the rights of Hong Kong citizens – which has already led to the imprisonment of the elected “baby” of the Hong Kong legislature – and the erosion of rights gained under “two systems, one country”.  Edward goes to trial in January and faces nine years in prison for peaceful protest.

Yet fearful of China, Britain has remained silent about these developments.

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Likewise, in Sudan, the UK has removed sanctions and is promoting new trade deals. Yet, its President, Omar Al Bashir is indicted by the International Criminal court for genocide and Crimes Against Humanity. I have visited Darfur and the south of the country – where Khartoum still tries to impose Sharia law and wages a campaign of aerial bombardment  that I have witnessed first-hand in Darfur and the South.

Or, take Pakistan. Every year we give more than £100 million in aid to Pakistan – yet they allow the persecution of their minorities – Christians, Ahmadis, Hindus and Shia – and yet we turn a blind eye, while continuing to pour in British taxpayers’ money.

From Saudi Arabia to Sudan it’s just a case of business as usual. The argument of tyrants; the creed of slaves.   

No narrow or xenophobic nationalist, Pitt was always outward looking.

He was known as “Honest Billy” for repudiating the corruption and dishonesty and lack of accountability that were associated with his opponents, Fox and Lord North.

He was an abolitionist when vested interests –from Liverpool to Bristol and London – were clamouring for wealth generated by the sale of human beings as slaves. He declared “I know of no evil that ever existed, nor can imagine any evil to exist, worse than the tearing of seventy or eighty thousand persons every year from their own land.” 

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In speaking out against slavery he knew that he would offend the slave dealers and slave owners – and many were in his own Party. But, for him, staying silent was not an option.  

Pitt was a close friend and encourager of William Wilberforce – who created the parliamentary alliance to end the transatlantic slave trade.

In the 2006 movie, Amazing Grace – which takes its name from the hymn composed by the Liverpool slave trader, John Newton – who changed his mind and joined forces with Wilberforce – there is an instructive exchange between Pitt and Wilberforce:

Pitt says: As your Prime Minister, I urge you caution.” Wilberforce responds: “And as my friend? Pitt replies: “To hell with caution.” 

 Pitt would die in 1806, the year before the Transatlantic Trade was abolished, and Wilberforce was on his death bed when slavery was finally outlawed in 1833.

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But these things would have not come to pass without their friendship, their partnership and persistence – changing minds, softening hearts, and enacting laws.

 

But their actions are also a rebuke to us in our own times – with more people enslaved than at any time in history. There are 45 million people estimated to be living in modern slavery by the Global Slavery Index. India and China are among the top five countries on that index

 

For every person trafficked in the UK, there are dozens of children in forced labour in Uzbekistan’s cotton mills, men and women enslaved in Mauritania, and Syrian children used as child labour in Lebanon.

 

I founded and co-chair the All Party Parliamentary Committee on North Korea. 90% of North Korean escapees are trafficked in China while hundreds of thousands are used as slave labour by the Kim regime.

In India and Pakistan women and children are exploited in bonded labour, and all over the world women and girls are trafficked into brothels.  Recall the fatal consequences of the collapsed garment factory in Rana Plaza in Bangladesh or the plight of India’s Dalit community—so-called “untouchables”—who form a significant proportion of the 21 million people whom the International Labour Organization says are in forced labour around the world, who in total produce an estimated $150 billion in illicit profits.

I hosted a meeting in Parliament for Mende Nazer, a former slave from Sudan’s Nuba Mountains. She described how she was abducted from her home aged 12, and suffered rape and other forms of abuse while working for a family in Khartoum. In 2000, Mende was sent by her host father with false documents to work in the UK. In London, she lived as a house slave for four months at the home of a Sudanese diplomat. She was not allowed to stray further than the front door.

Mercifully, Mende was ultimately freed and now works to help others. But this is our country and our world in the 21st not the 18th or 19th century. And such modern-day slavery is a disgrace.

 

Let me end

 

Pitt may have been young but he had a deep sense of his nation’s history. He knew his nation’s story and his own place in it.

 

 By comparison, we are a bemused generation unable to answer the question from which a television programme takes its title: “Who do you think you are?

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King Croesus the King of the Lydians asked the Oracle at Delphi what is the most important thing that a man needs to know. “Know who you are” came the answer. Isaiah cautioned the Hebrew nation: “remember the rock from which you were hewn; remember the quarry from which you were dug.”  

 

But we are being weakened by collective amnesia, forgetting who we are and what our nation stands for.  People gave their lives for our privileges and our freedoms but we are in grave danger of forgetting the sacrifices that give us our political and religious freedoms. We need to tell the old stories afresh, so that like Pitt we can pass on a love of all that we hold dear.

 

In the House of Commons in 1792 Pitt summed up who and what we are in these words:

 

“..we have become rich in a variety of acquirements, favoured above measure in the gifts of Providence, unrivalled in commerce, pre-eminent in arts, foremost in the pursuits of philosophy and science, and established in all the blessings of civil society; we are in the possession of peace, of happiness, and of liberty; we are under the guidance of a mild and beneficent religion; and we are protected by impartial laws, and the purest administration of justice: we are living under a system of government which our own happy experience leads us to pronounce the best and wisest which has ever yet been framed; a system which has become the admiration of the world.”

 

Pitt, then, loved his country.  In our generation, the question for us is, do we?

 

As we reflect on his life and times let me then propose a toast and ask you to raise your glasses: “To the immortal memory of William Pitt, the Younger.”