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Conservatives must stop using dangerous, cruel language. 

Artists impression of Lady Justice, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Letter published in Mercury 15th March – In bold sentences cut when published. Also sent to Dover Express.

Totalitarian one-party states are regimes where those in power control the state broadcaster and public discourse. In functional democracies, a party with temporary political power does not control a publicly owned state broadcaster by making party political appointments. In a functional democracy, a publicly owned organisation does not prevent public figures from commenting in moderate language on public issues.  As a law-abiding citizen, it sends a chill down my spine when I hear a Prime Minister and other ministers, in my country, in the 21st century, using inflammatory language attacking lawyers (lefty or righty or supportive of international laws on human rights). Any politician using language to incite law-breaking, (by attacking and dehumanizing lawyers or asylum seekers or voluntary services or anyone) lays themselves open to prosecution, and they should also be judged in the ballot-box.

As recently as Sept 2020, there was a violent attack on a lawyer after a previous Conservative Home Secretary shouted about lawyers in the media. There is a foreseeable risk when language is used to divide and attack the rule of law.

On 12 Oct 2020 the chair of the Bar council in the Law Gazette said, “‘There should never be a situation when a British prime minister, home secretary and other government ministers need to be called upon to stop deliberately inflammatory language towards a profession simply doing its job in the public interest. Shockingly, we've arrived at that point.”  

However worried about electoral losses a party may be, it should never stoop to using scare tactics prevalent 90 years ago, in the 1930s. The UK led when many countries, in 1951, signed up to the Refugee Convention, when many had recent memories of why human rights need to be enshrined in international law.  Armed service members of my family, often told me of their experiences 80 years ago, in the 1940s,  in a Europe full of displaced persons. They spent decades picking up the pieces after arrogant, monied, politicians postured, and would feel so betrayed today by the behaviour of Conservative government ministers.

Sarah Waite-Gleave