After the referendum, a commitment to our shared values must be what binds us together

24 June 2016

Liberty didn’t take a position in the referendum. We are a cross-party, non-party membership organisation. Our role is to campaign for tolerance and fairness and hold the powerful to account.

Now, as we look to the future, we must continue to assert the values we aspire to. Compassion, respect, tolerance, dignity, fairness and justice. Human rights values that unite us and can help build consensus and progress where there is division and fear.

Liberty is a champion of free speech. But following months of referendum campaigning, we all now have the opportunity to reflect on the tenor of the debate.

Political rhetoric has real world consequences. Consequences for how it feels to be an immigrant, a member of a minority race, an asylum seeker or a refugee. And consequences for the type of society we are and want to be.

Since the callous killing of Jo Cox, politicians from across the political divide have pledged to ‘reset the dial’ on our political culture. This is welcome and long overdue. Those who genuinely reject the politics of hate and extremism, have a duty not to fuel it. For our elected representatives, occupying a privileged and powerful position, this responsibility is stronger still.

Democratic leaders should appeal to our better nature, not stir our darker thoughts. They should remind us every day that we have more in common than that which divides us and that a better world is possible.

As we begin a new chapter in the history of these islands, we must root our new settlement in the principles that enable us all to rub along together – whatever our race, creed, religion or region. Nothing must be taken for granted.

Social ties have loosened, and chasms have opened across our national map. Now a commitment to our shared values must be what binds us together.

At Liberty the business of protecting fundamental rights and freedoms will continue, day-in, day-out, just as it has for the last 82 years.

Now is the moment to reassert these values. If you share them, join us and be heard.