11 OCT 2018

Confronting the Far Right

News that there is to be a 'far right' inspired march in London this weekend, conjured memories of similar extremists rearing their ugly heads on our doorstep here in Maidstone and the Weald.

Thankfully, when the low-life bigots under the hate-filled 'Britain First' banner paid an unwelcome visit to protest against the expansion of our wonderfully inclusive mosque last year; they were met with a Maidstone community united in their opposition. Our people came together to defy islamophobia and promote diversity and I am confident that this weekend's poisonous march will be met with similar resolute rejection.

The indomitable fortitude of the British people, and in particular, might I add, the people of Maidstone, to rail against such hatred and embrace our diversity is a constant inspiration. However, we must never take this collective tolerance for granted. The diversity of our nation is one of the things which makes us great and we have a responsibility to protect it.

The Government, rightly, are treating this issue with the upmost seriousness. They will not tolerate any groups that spread hate by demonising those of other faiths or ethnicities, and have taken steps to root out such odious organisations. Our Local Authorities are also countering the offensive by playing their part in celebrating our diverse heritage. KCC are marking this year's Black History Month by commemorating and raising awareness of the positive role of African and Caribbean men in the First World War. You can find out more about their work here.

Perhaps above all else, however, this is a matter which Government simply does not have the power or scope to address alone. We all have a part to play in calling out and confronting racism, bigotry and hatred wherever we see it. For the sake of our hard-won and much valued open, tolerant and diverse nation; it is vital that we do.

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Helen's column

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