Jeremy Corbyn MP will give Liberation’s inaugural Fenner Brockway Annual Lecture on Thursday June 30 @ 7pm, Hamilton House, Mabledon Place, London WC1H 9BZ. REGISTER NOW
Why is Liberation holding this lecture?
Founded in 1954, as the Movement for Colonial Freedom, Liberation is one of the oldest human rights organisations in Britain. Today we campaign against neo-colonialism and imperialism, and for a just and progressive British government foreign policy.
A radical reworking of UK foreign policy would help achieve peace, human rights, co-operation, and solidarity across the world – particularly with regard to the countries of the former British Empire.
We see the Fenner Brockway Annual Lecture as a key tool in raising consciousness and working towards an equitable, just, and independent foreign policy free from the vestiges of empire.
Who was Fenner Brockway?
Fenner Brockway – born in 1888 in Kolkata, India – spent his entire life as a passionate campaigner for peace, disarmament, anti-colonialism, anti-racism and socialism. By 1954, when he helped found the Movement for Colonial Freedom (MCF) with the aim of campaigning for the independence of Britain’s colonial territories and freedom of its peoples, he had already been politically active for almost half a century working as a journalist, a politician, and community organiser. At the time of the MCF’s founding, Brockway and his comrades – including MP Tony Benn – had grown disillusioned by the Westminster Parliament’s complete disregard of the injustices and oppression being meted out in the colonies. Through the MCF and its supporters in the Labour Party, trade unions, and wider society, Brockway was able to raise consciousness of these issues to a level unheard of in Britain until that moment – spurring on a steadily growing clamour for change.
The author Stephen Howe noted that in the MCF, anticolonial sentiment in Britain “found its most unified, coherent, and forceful organisational expression, and its widest base of support”. This ability to establish such broad support was testament to the brilliance of Brockway and his allies in the MCF. It was truly a mass movement. In addition to supporters in Parliament and its individual members, Brockway and the MCF established affiliations with national trade unions as well as local trade union branches. Brockway also relentlessly campaigned to fight racism in Britain. In 1957, as Labour MP for Eton and Slough, he brought the Racial Discrimination Bill to Parliament, which aimed to ban discrimination based on race in housing and employment. He was the first to present before Parliament a bill on race relations in the UK. Simultaneously, the MCF was holding conferences and distributing leaflets on the threat of racism in the UK.
Above all, Brockway was an internationalist who believed in the complete and inalienable equality of all peoples. The MCF actively supported liberation movements across the Global South, opposed US-backed coups in Latin America; and was crucial to the founding of groups such as the Anti-Apartheid Movement in the UK and the British Council for Peace in Vietnam.
As Brockway stated, the MCF was “stirred by a great moral impulse for human equality and Freedom”.
How can I get involved in Liberation?
Photo: Fenner Brockway Statue, Red Lion Square, London / Creative Commons