Thank you for contacting me regarding the highly publicised ‘Black Lives Matter’ campaign.
I would like to start by saying that I fully support and endorse the statement ‘Black Lives Matter’. Racism, towards anybody, has no place in our society. I believe too, that the vast majority of the British public would support this statement.
We live in a free and tolerant society, where racial equality and tolerance are widely supported. We have a legal system that supports the rights of all citizens including those that are members of minority groups. These protections are enshrined in hate crime legislation, which makes the targeting of minorities an aggravating factor that increases the sentencing that can be handed down for racially motivated crimes. The Equality Act 2010 protects people with the nine protected characteristics, including ethnicity, from discrimination in the workplace and when accessing public or private goods and services.
In the UK we have a police force that has been widely vocal in not just soliciting the specific reporting of hate crime but also hate crime incidents.
I cannot support the BLM UK movement’s aim to de-fund our Police Force, ironically, the very people who keep them safe when protesting!
All that aside, the impact of highlighting intolerance within society has been refreshing.
Many people have emailed asking for the UK Government to impose restrictions on sales of rubber bullets, tear gas and riot shields to the US.
I cannot support such calls. It has to be right that countries, (ours included) have the right to protect themselves, their realm and property, especially when the damage done to buildings, homes and businesses by those who are looting and pillaging is undermining civil society. People, of course, have the right to peacefully protest and exercise freedom of speech, however, they do not have the right to cause criminal damage without recourse.
Here in Britain we have amongst the strictest export conditions for such equipment in the world and I am satisfied that such criteria are robust.
There has been much said on both sides of the argument about statues and their suitability.
The first thing that I will say is that any destruction of any public property is unacceptable and those who have defaced and destroyed statutes should be prosecuted, jailed (if necessary) and made to pay for restoration.
I accept that there are elements of our shared history that we aren’t particularly proud of, especially with hindsight in the 21st century. However, it is our history and it is not right that individuals or local councils take down statutes without a general consensus of people locally. We may be wise to remember that, to understand where we are going in life, we have to understand where we have been.
Craig Whittaker MP