There is a poem that finishes with the line ‘there was no-one left for me.’ The poem, by a German pastor Martin Niemoller, who lived through the Nazi regime and survived seven years in a concentration camp, is basically saying that anyone who opposed the political regime at the time was quietly disposed of. As each group – socialists, trade unionists, etc – were all picked upon, no-one spoke out. Niemoller was saying that, by not speaking out, everyone else was complicit in the horrors that followed.
It is a poem that has been picked up by many groups over time. Amnesty International in particular has used it extensively to raise awareness of human rights abuses.
Current circumstances in our country in no way can ever be likened to what was happening in the 1930s and 40s, but the strong underlying message should never be forgotten. If people do not speak out, then the unspeakable can happen.
Which is why the political situation in the UK right now is worrying and should be ringing alarm bells. As a nation we are heading at breakneck speed towards a point in our history that is unprecedented. We have voted to leave the very institution that has been at the heart of our decision-making for the past 40 years. We will be building new trade relationships with a number of new partners. We are facing a possible fracturing of the UK as one entity. We are the strongest allies of the USA, who currently has a president that is at best described as ‘unpredictable’. And we have very little in the way of political discussion or challenge around any of these issues.
Theresa May seems to be a very steady hand on the anchor but, on June 8 she is likely to sweep to power with a Conservative majority and very little in the way of opposition. No matter how capable you deem May, or what your political inclination, that has to be unpalatable.
The bedrock of our political system is based on debate, challenge and questions but there seems to be no-one in the current political landscape who has the ability to raise a credible opposition to the Conservatives. Or even to ask if the decisions being made about our futures are the correct ones.
I looked at my voting options: Labour is a party whose only two issues seem to be the NHS and corporation tax – both worthy subjects but not the only subjects. The Lib-Dems have a leader who has views about LGBT rights that are at best outdated, at worst abhorrent, the Green Party are also too limited in their issues, I’m not Scottish so the SNP mean little to me, I despise everything about UKIP. In short, as a pro-EU, pro-UK liberal – there is no-one to speak out for me.