Thank you Mr Mayor.
I’m proud to be speaking here today as Barnet Labour’s newest councillor, denouncing hate crime, surrounded by colleagues who share my values. And I would like to pay tribute to former councillor Amy Trevethan, who strove to make Underhill a better place for all who live there.
After two divisive campaigns there has been a shift of feeling in our borough, city and country. First the London mayoral campaign where Sadiq Khan was bombarded with racist rhetoric, and then the EU referendum’s Leave campaign, which fostered a nationalist sentiment with an undercurrent of fear. The people of Barnet voted for inclusivity and internationalism. As Councillors we must represent them and make it unequivocally clear that Barnet is an inclusive, tolerant and safe place to live. Let’s join with Sadiq Khan in proclaiming London is open.
In the week following the Brexit vote the metropolitan police reported an increase in hate crime of more than 50%. There was even a new hashtag trending on twitter #postrefracism. As politicians we need to say that Barnet is for everyone and join with people from all over London in using a new hashtag #noplaceforhate.
It is not just those who experience these crimes who are affected, whole communities are being made to feel unwelcome, Commander Mak Chishty of the metropolitan police has highlighted that the police are aware that people are feeling, and I quote, “anxious at the perception of increased intolerance against certain communities”. So lets support this motion that states “we reassure all people living in Barnet, whatever their background, that they are valued members of our community.”
We must remember that last year hate crime, including anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, rose faster here than in many other parts of the Capital. As public representatives it is our duty to promote the virtues of diversity and to lead the way on challenging the root causes of fear.
So I ask for all councillors here tonight to join with the Labour group and send a clear message that racism, xenophobia and hate crime have no place in our country and all are welcome in Barnet.