JOE's Alternative Christmas Speech, brought to you by David Lammy 3 years ago

JOE's Alternative Christmas Speech, brought to you by David Lammy

Merry Christmas, everyone

This year, JOE have asked David Lammy MP to provide our alternative Christmas speech. The focus is less on the good work we are presently doing, and more on the great things we have the potential to achieve. The member of Parliament for Tottenham is widely recognised as one of the most gifted and compelling orators of his generation, and his message could not be more vital.

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The country is so fractured at present, and the political discourse so toxic, that it is easy to give in to fatalism. Lammy is acutely aware of widening divisions, hateful rhetoric, and cruel injustices that many are forced to endure. But his message is one of defiance and hope. We have come too far as a society to succumb to hateful regression. This is a rousing eulogy to the power of togetherness.

David Lammy

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Hi I’m David Lammy, the member of Parliament for Tottenham. JOE kindly asked me to send you this message.

I want to start by wishing you a merry Christmas. This is a time to celebrate family, common bonds and coming together. But in nearly 20 years of politics, I have never seen our country split so far apart.

From Devon to Dundee, we have forgotten what makes this Kingdom United.

We are telling different stories about our history, and have different visions for our future. While we waste years debating the European Union, our own country is being left to rust.

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Toxic rhetoric from politicians has filtered down to our streets. The number of hate crimes rose to nearly 100,000 last year.

Foodbanks will hand out 1.5 million meals this month, as changes to the Welfare system mean the cupboards of the poorest families are empty.

And this winter more than 24,000 rough sleepers will be left out in the cold.

In 2018 the Windrush scandal rocked our national conscience. The Home Office wrongly deported or detained at least 164 British citizens. 11 died before they received any justice.

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And at least 5,000 black Britons had their lives seriously harmed by the Home Office’s systematic abuse.

Made homeless, destitute, denied the right to work and access public services - the government stopped its own citizens from living their lives.

This scandal forgot the great story of the 20th Century.

The huge strides the world made towards freedom for all peoples. The refusal to accept being bound by our identities. Before it, if you were a woman your life was not determined by what you could give, but by who you married.

If you were gay, you had to live in secret and could imprisoned simply for falling in love.

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If you were disabled, you were ridiculed, cast out and denied the chance to work.

If you were an ethnic minority, you were subjugated, oppressed and at worst enslaved.

The brave sacrifices of a few great leaders inspired change:

Emily Wilding Davison threw herself in front of the King’s horse to demand women’s right to vote.

Mahatma Gandhi stood up to colonial Britain and demanded his people could determine their own path.

Harvey Milk gave his life to become the first openly gay person elected to public office.

Martin Luther King founded a non-violent peaceful movement that changed America for black people and then the world.

Leaders ignited the flame but revolution was only possible because normal people came together. The silent majority who took to the streets, wrote letters, campaigned and stood up to be counted.

I have hope this Christmas because our young people remember what those brave activists knew.

Prejudice has no place in our society. Wealth must be shared with those who need it. We only achieve greatness when we are open not closed.

With a deep sense of what is right, the millennial generation must inspire our country to come back together.

Remind us that together we can be anything. Together we can demand the right to be who we want to be.

Together we can shape history, bend it towards justice, and change the world.