AS WE commemorate the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings we are all reminded of the sacrifice made by many from around the world, of many nations, faiths and cultures who took part in D-Day. So many gave their lives for the freedoms we enjoy today.

We owe them a debt and the way we repay that is to commit ourselves to defending those freedoms with every fibre of our being. We have to work for our Liberal Democracy – it is not easy and it needs constant attention. Those freedoms and values give us rights, but also responsibilities, and It’s a balance between them that defines our humanity.

The world is a very dangerous place at the moment, full of far right populist fascists and totalitarians bent on destroying our democracies. We see a world where again the evil of genocide challenges our morality, as children die as the victims of our failure.

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We cannot take our rights for granted nor the rights sought by others who seek the freedoms we enjoy. Rights and values which are threatened by those opposed to them both at home and abroad.

These ‘dividers’ are talking up difference, culture wars and fanning hatred. People talk about taking the UK out of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). They too easily forget that the men who went ashore on D-Day to free Europe from the evil of fascism were fighting for those rights enshrined in the ECHR.

Some people talk about the ECHR as if it was imposed on the unwilling British by our continental neighbours, but the reality may surprise you.

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In the early 1940s, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill raised the idea of a ‘Council of Europe’. In the wake of the Second World War and the horrors of the Holocaust, the idea behind the Council of Europe was to set up an international organisation to promote democracy, the rule of law and human rights.

The Council was established by 10 states, including the United Kingdom, on 5 May 1949.

We must resist the siren voices of division and fascism today. Those who preach hate need a clear and vocal repost. Our freedom is worth fighting for. D-Day teaches us the sacrifice previous generations have made. We need to learn the lesson and remind ourselves of our ‘liberal democratic’ values, be proud of them and to push back against the ‘dividers’.”

Dr Paul Harvey Leader

Basingstoke and Deane Independents

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