“Holocaust Memorial Day provides us with an opportunity to remember the victims of the Holocaust and genocides which have taken place around the world.
It is also a vital opportunity to reiterate our commitment to stand firm against antisemitism, racism and bigotry.
Holocaust Memorial Day feels particularly timely this year.
For the first time in my lifetime, our country feels fractured and divided.
The challenges that we all face are huge, and getting bigger – and it feels as though our public debate is becoming more intolerant and more divisive.
This is not unique to Britain. All over the world, we are seeing the rise of populism and the election of leaders who employ dangerous rhetoric.
We cannot ignore the challenge of populism in Europe; or fail to learn from the history of the Second World War and the efforts our country went to defeat the evil of Nazism.
We must never forget the millions of people were persecuted by the Nazi regime:
Jewish people, the disabled, ethnic minorities, LGBT people, Jehovah’s Witnesses, political prisoners, and more besides.
What happened at Auschwitz and in concentration camps across Europe is nothing less than a stain on the conscience of humanity.
It is our duty to ensure that it never happens again.
That means, as my friend the late Jo Cox MP so beautifully put it, finding more that unites people than that which divides them.
It means building bridges between communities instead of putting up walls.
And it means all of us taking responsibility in our everyday lives.
To think about the words we use.
To remember that our actions have consequences.
And not to walk on by when we see intolerance and injustice.
I will never forget my visit to Auschwitz – along with 250 school pupils from across Yorkshire – and the lessons that it taught.
And, as the Holocaust passes from living memory, it is incumbent on all of us to ensure that those lessons are never forgotten, and passed on to the next generation.
So today is our opportunity to remember those whose lives were destroyed by the evil of the Holocaust; and pledge to say ‘Never Again’ – and be resolute in opposition to antisemitism, racism and bigotry.
Finally, let me offer my thanks to the organisers of tonight’s event and all who have shown their support – I am sorry that I was unable to attend this evening.”
These remarks were originally delivered at the Holocaust Memorial Day Event on 28 January 2019, at Horizon College