SIR PETER BOTTOMLEY: Give and forgive; take and forsake?

There are times when knowledge of history can point us towards a better shared future. International tensions are high.

Thursday, 17th May 2018, 10:30 am
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 8:29 am
Sir Peter Bottomley

The resurgence of the Strong Leader habit brings dangers.

Friction between Greece and Turkey in the Aegean reminds me of the nearly forgotten crisis in 1922, the Chanak Affair, in Turkish the Canakkale Krizi.

War was feared between the United Kingdom and the Turkey Grand National Assembly which wanted the departure of the Greek armies and restored Turkish rule over what is now the European part of modern Turkey, including Constantinople, now Istanbul.

The Liberal Prime Minister David Lloyd George and Winston Churchill were defied by Canada; France and Italy declined to join, the top British general refused to pass on an ultimatum because he counted on a negotiated settlement.

The demands by Kemal Ataturk came with his preference for negotiation.

The foreign secretary Lord Curzon had missed the Cabinet meeting. Quickly, he resolved matters.

Later, Ataturk negotiated an understanding with Greece. It was the end of the Ottoman Empire that caused that set of problems that still influences parts of world politics today.

The consequences included the Statute of Westminster that created the present Commonwealth.

In negotiations, it helps to recognise realities, to understand what matters to the others involved and to avoid conflict whenever it is proper to do so.

These reflections have a human face, made real to me by considering with others how Worthing and district can be a welcoming place for displaced people and for refugees.

I recognise and honour the foster parents and the faith-led groups, including those who are inspired by the Canadian model: a whole community can make the experience better for all.

The thought of forgiveness comes from individual constituents. Their cases are confidential.

What I can record is how often I am inspired by their frequent commitment to forgive those who have wronged them.

Less frequently, a person has their life frozen by an event that justifies animosity and a desire for retaliation or revenge or punishment.

Preparations for the UK leaving the EU also bring forward those who want to help make the best of the situation, together with others whose words or actions make success apparently more difficult, if not impossible.

Picking up the wishes of many constituents, I stand ready to help when I can, to build bridges and to give encouragement to all with responsibilities in the discussions, the negotiations and the decision-making.

In the early days of the week I joined others at 10 Downing Street to hear from Theresa May, before returning to be with Chancellor Philip Hammond.

It is good to be a link for the whole constituency of Worthing West to Westminster and Whitehall.

On Tuesday, after briefings by Breast Cancer Care and from the Sussex area Royal British Legion, I went to the Chamber to be the first back bench speaker on press freedom.

It was a short contribution. My key point is to back the media to meet the standards they set themselves.

Give them that freedom; they are the invigilators of all, including politics: they can make available to all what is known to the few.


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