11 November 2020
What is Talking Point?
Cambridge News asks a representative of each local political party to answer a question on a local issue in just 300 words. The answers are then published in the physical copy of the Cambridge News every fortnight. Here, we share our response to the question.
Today's Question: How are we to prevent the memory of Armistice Day from fading this year, given our unusual circumstances? Is it time we ceased commemorating these occasions and focused instead on events in more recent history, such as WWII? If not, how do we encourage young people to participate? Is it imperial propaganda? How will you and/or your parties be commemorating these events this year?
War disfigures our world, destroying lives and communities. As is often the case, great evil also gives rise to great heroism and sacrifice. It is right that we recognise all of those things and Armistice Day and/or Remembrance Sunday provide a fitting occasion to do that collectively for those who wish to participate, even as the focus shifts to more recent conflicts.
Tragically there will probably be future wars that may change the views of young people. Certainly the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan increased attendance at ceremonies up and down the country.
Part of the reason we, the Green Party, think we should keep the celebration alive is precisely to stop it from becoming a vehicle for imperial propaganda. It is when people start using the language of sacrifice too glibly that things begin to get worrying. It is right that we recognise the cost of all the lives lost in war, and all that they and their families have sacrificed.
However we should beware of the rhetoric of sacrifice being turned back on itself. We do not want lives to be lost in vain, but we should be very wary of those who say that because lives have been lost, that the cause must be just. Public pronouncements at the time of Iraq and Afghanistan seemed to be suggesting as much. ‘Our brave servicemen and women are making an incomprehensibly huge sacrifice, therefore you cannot question whether it is worth it.’ However few wars in history can be seen, once they are over, to have been just. Once the guns have fallen silent, all too often what we are left with is just loss and destruction. Remembrance Sunday is valuable precisely because it is an opportunity to remind ourselves of that.
Our response was written Jeremy Caddick. Jeremy was the MP Candidate for Cambridge in the 2019 General Election. He has lived in Cambridge for more than 25 years and is the Dean and Chaplain at one of the Colleges in Cambridge University. He campaigns for the University to cut its links with fossil fuel companies.