Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn issued a plea for people to remain committed to making the world a safer place with human rights and dignity at the centre of our actions. Delivering the Annual Peace Lecture at Lancaster University’s Richardson Institute on Thursday evening, Mr Corbyn told a packed house of staff and students he had spent his life working for peace.
The Cuban Missile Crisis, the Vietnam War and CND movement had been at the heart of his teenage years.
Mr Corbyn spoke about horrors and impacts of conflicts worldwide –Syria, Palestine, Libya, Iraq and Yemen – and said the only outcome of any war was death and displacement.
People lived, he added, in daily fear of violence intertwined with other global risks and problems including climate change, environmental refugees, food security and, closer to home, xenophobia and hate.
“We do not have to wait for another Gandhi, Martin Luther King or Nelson Mandela,” concluded Mr Corbyn. “It is in our own hearts and minds how we can change the world.”
Lancaster and Fleetwood MP Cat Smith, an alumna of Lancaster University, also attended the Lecture.
The event, at the George Fox Lecture Theatre, was chaired by Lecturer Dr Simon Mabon, who thanked Mr Corbyn for a fascinating and thought-provoking lecture that ‘linked the work of universities with the responsibilities we all face in today’s world.’
The Richardson Institute, the oldest peace studies centre in the UK established in 1959, is a research centre based in the Department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion.
The Institute brings together academics committed to enhancing research to develop outreach activities.
The Annual Peace Lecture is a public lecture which highlights an important theme in peace and conflict studies to a wide audience within and beyond the university.
Previous speakers have included Professor Sari Nusseibeh, the former President of Al Quds University, Jerusalem, award-winning Australian foreign correspondent Sophie McNeill and former Labour MP and Cabinet Minister Tony Benn.
Earlier in the day Mr Corbyn was in Alexandra Square to meet members of the student Labour Club and other students.
And in an interview with The University’s Press Office he said he had been very impressed by the politeness of all the students he had met – even those who had disagreed with him and then asked for a selfie!
Mr Corbyn said a visit to Lancaster University last year had proved very interesting and when the invitation came to deliver the Peace Lecture this year he had willingly accepted.
“The Richardson Institute is the oldest and pre-eminent centre of its kind in Britain,” said Mr Corbyn. “This serious study of peace and the causes of war and what brings about global insecurity are crucial to our future. Well done Lancaster!”
He added: “I am really pleased to have been invited here. I spent time this afternoon in the Square talking to the students about their courses, what they like about studying here and their hopes for their future and the future of education. I really enjoyed it.”
It was important, he added, for students to engage in politics as they were about life and the future of individual lives and security in general.
“Engagement in politics is very important to understand and challenge political structures,” said the Leader of the Opposition and MP for Islington North. “Membership of my party has grown phenomenally – just coming up to 600,000 members – people want to see things differently and are concerned about inequality and the thwarted ambitions of young people.
Mr Corbyn praised the University’s link with Blackburn College, an associate college of Lancaster University, which he had visited earlier in the day.
“They offer skills training and high level apprenticeships which can lead to degrees – that’s key to the manufacturing economy here in Lancashire. Lancaster University plays a key part in generating those skills and keeping them in the area. I am very impressed.”