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We keep forgetting lessons from history

June 21, 2016

 

Last week, a woman was brutally shot and stabbed in a Yorkshire street for no apparent reason.

 

It was a despicable act that affected us all in one way or another.

 

Some regard it as an isolated incident; an aberration; the actions of a deranged individual.

 

Others see this deadly violence as the inevitable consequence of partisan politics spiralling into something darker in recent months.

 

We can probably subscribe to either opinion to varying degrees.

 

What concerns me however is the impression you get from some quarters as to whether it happened at all.

 

The social media pundits who regularly peddle their views on the dangers presented by racial and ethnic stereotypes have been resoundingly silent.

 

I don’t necessarily wish to judge, but I’m guessing they feel the assailant had the 'wrong' surname or skin colour to warrant a rant or two.

 

In Swansea, people stood in vigil to show their sorrow but also their solidarity with what Jo Cox represented.

 

Over the weekend, shop staff and florists in the city ensured that an order of white roses was available for her colleagues to wear at yesterday’s reconvened session of Parliament.

 

It must be said that physical assaults on authority figures is not a new phenomenon, although it is thankfully a rare one. Nonetheless, the premeditated nature of the attack must bring a sense of horror to politicians and their families.

 

So how do we as a society address this? Do we wrap up our representatives in security measures, making them all but inaccessible.

 

Or do we look more closely at the causes?

 

Flowers in memory of Jo Cox have been laid at the foot of a statue of Joseph Priestly, who came from the same Yorkshire town of Birstall.

 

Priestley lived at the turn of the 19th century. He advocated tolerance and preached equal rights for religious dissenters. He also founded Unitarianism in England.

 

His work earned him the respect of his peers and the enmity of the government after he spoke out in favour of the French Revolution. Branded a traitor, he eventually fled to the United States where he spent the last ten years of his life.

 

The man charged with the murder of Jo Cox gave his name as "Death to traitors, freedom for Britain".

 

Yet as one journalist recently wrote, Jo Cox was the antithesis of a traitor. She represented the best of British values. She cared for others and spoke up on their behalf.

 

The traitors are those who would have us abandon those valued principles of fairness and justice for all. The traitors think they can hijack the British identity and remould us as something we are not.

 

They write glibly about Britain once standing alone against Nazi tyranny but won't raise their voices to condemn neo-fascist thuggery on our own doorsteps.

 

One last footnote from history. A small group of brave German students in wartime Munich were arrested and shot for mounting a campaign of passive resistance against Nazi-ism. They called themselves ‘Die Weisse Rose’ - the White Rose.

 

They were condemned as traitors too.

 

As ever, the more we forget the lessons from past mistakes, the more likely we are to repeat them.

 

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Planning for success

 

Like the man said, Rome wasn’t built in a day – but it’s noticeable that the pace in Swansea is picking up considerably.

 

The Mariner Street project is a good case in point. It may have been nine years before it could get off the drawing board but the 22 storey tower is more than just a design statement.

 

The significance is not just the ambition the scheme represents but how the local authority has embraced the overall concept.

 

Compare this to the situation of a few years ago where a different perspective seemed to produce impasse after impasse as people tried to dump unrealistic expectations on marginally profitable projects.

 

Good planning can make a difference. Realistic planning can make for winning outcomes. Slowly but surely, we’re losing our reputation among investors as being hard work.

 

What’s needed now is the same positivity further down the development food-chain. We live in hope.

 

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In peak condition

 

I’d just like to say a few words of congratulations to the valiant souls who took part in the Welsh Three Peaks Challenge last weekend.

 

Teams from JCP Solicitors and Swansea Bay Business Club – and which included a certain Mrs Bailey - scaled the heights of Snowden, Cadair Idris and Pen y Fan all in one day.

 

I’m told that this equates to a distance of 17 miles and a 4,920 foot ascent. I have no means of confirming this claim – or any intention of checking it out for myself.

 

The endeavour was all the idea of SBBC President Hayley Davies who aims to raise a substantial sum in aid of Ty Hafan – the childrens hospice charity.

 

In addition to the mountain trek, Hayley is planning a cycle journey from London to Paris next month. She will also be doing a sponsored parachute jump. I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

 

Bon Chance, Hayley – and happy landings.

 

 

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