He sought to break the taboo, and lives were undoubtedly saved as a direct consequence. As the Prime Minister said earlier, Nelson Mandela announced that his own

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son, Makgatho, had died of AIDS. At that time, about 600 South Africans were dying every day of AIDS-related illnesses, but often there was denial that AIDS was the cause of the deaths. Out of office, Nelson Mandela confronted that culture of denial.

Rightly, there has been a focus today on the commitment in the South African constitution to tackle racism and other forms of discrimination. The South African constitution was the first in the world to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation. I wish to finish with the following story, which I found when preparing for what I would say today. It is a beautiful story about a black lesbian couple who got married—this was before marriage had been legalised, but a church was prepared to marry them. One of the families was not very happy, so they went round and started to beat the other family up. The fight ended up being taken to the police station in Soweto. The police station commander sat the two families down and pointed to a poster on the wall—a poster of Nelson Mandela. She said, “Listen. That man, the father of our freedom, says it’s okay for these women to be together. And if he says that, who are you to argue?” That sorted things out. That little story says it all: Nelson Mandela was a force for good, for decent values, for justice and, as all contributors today have said, someone from whom we can all learn.

8.21 pm

Jack Dromey (Birmingham, Erdington) (Lab): Three brief stories, of Kilburn, Kingstanding and Luanda, are linked together by the enduring icon who is Nelson Mandela.

I was born in Kilburn, of Irish immigrant parents. Twenty-five years later, the Jamaicans arrived. Both groups met waves of prejudice. My father, seeking lodgings, was told, “No Irish. No dogs.” Twenty-five years later, the Jamaicans were told, “No blacks. No dogs.” Both communities became the bedrock in north-west London of a vibrant, diverse, thriving multicultural society. People from both communities were present in 1962 at Nelson Mandela’s final meeting in this country before he went back to South Africa and ultimately stood trial for his life. He addressed the Willesden Friendship League in Kilburn high road, but hundreds of yards from where I was born. He enraptured the audience that night, and I will never forget old Tom Durkin, the president of Brent Trades Council, saying, “I have never met a man so optimistic in all my life.”

Both communities then became the bedrock of the Anti-Apartheid Movement. We look back now at that era and see that it was tough. It was tough for black people, including in the world of work, above all in South Africa, but also in this country. All too often, workplaces were scarred by racism, which was compounded and encouraged by the naked oppression of black people in South Africa. I recall one black Transport and General Workers Union shop steward, George, in an Irish pub in Kilburn high road, telling me the story of how grievously he felt having been racially abused in his workplace. But, he said, “I will stand up against it.” Who was his hero? It was Nelson Mandela.

Throughout those bitter years of the Anti-Apartheid Movement, many of us often stood on freezing pavements outside South Africa house or outside supermarkets trying to encourage people not to buy South African

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produce. During that time, a second battle was being fought against colonialism and racism in the Portuguese colonial empire—Mozambique, Angola, Guinea-Bissau and the Cape Verde Islands. I was deeply involved in that campaign. When Franco died and then Salazar the year after, after 20 years of a liberation struggle the Portuguese colonial empire collapsed. There was a process of rapid decolonisation. In Angola, oil and diamond-rich, the South Africans invaded from the south and the Zairians invaded from the north, and it was only the Cubans coming in to fight with the MPLA that prevented South Africa from taking over Angola.

Stephen Sedley, who retired but two years ago as a Lord Justice of Appeal, and I were invited out there as friends of the liberation movement to serve on the commission that observed the mercenary trials— 13 mercenaries were captured at the end of the Angolan war. I will tell but one story from that experience. I recall one night walking with Stephen and some of the other commission members down the bay of Luanda. On the beach, the black soldiers from FAPLA, the armed wing of the MPLA, and the black Cuban soldiers were boogying around a camp fire. We got to talk, and one Cuban, who spoke very good English, said, “For us, it is back to Africa. For us, it is about the memory of Lumumba, Mondlane and the great figures of the liberation movement who were killed by apartheid and racism.” But he also said, “It is Angola today, it is South Africa tomorrow. One day Nelson Mandela will be free.”

My third, more recent story is from two months ago. I opened the new North Birmingham academy in Kingstanding. That community was once scarred by racism. I spoke to two young black pupils, one from a West Indian background and one from an African background, who were discussing the experiences that one of them and some members of their family had had. They called those who had abused them on one occasion “little people”. One of the guys said, “I am proud to be black.” We then got into a discussion, and I found out that his hero was Nelson Mandela. Worldwide polls were conducted on five continents at the beginning of the millennium asking who was the greatest statesman of the 20th century. It is little wonder that every one of them said it was Nelson Mandela.

I wish to say two things in conclusion. First, I wish to pay tribute to all the veterans from the bitter wilderness years, above all in South Africa: Neil and Glenys Kinnock; Bob Hughes; Richard Caborn; my right hon. Friend the Member for Neath (Mr Hain); and a man I knew very well, a good personal friend who tragically died young, Mike Terry, the secretary of the Anti-Apartheid Movement.

Secondly, what is so remarkable about Nelson Mandela is the sheer triumph of the human spirit. This is a man who endured the unendurable, who saw some of his comrades taken out and hung. This is a man who was oppressed but ultimately broke the will of his oppressors. This is a man who was jailed for three decades and then came out and forgave his jailers, in the most remarkable act of national reconciliation, avoiding what could otherwise have been the most immense conflagration in southern Africa. He was truly the global giant of his century. We mourn his loss. Our world is a better world for Nelson Mandela. But we not only mourn; we remember that infectious smile, infectious optimism and infectious enthusiasm, and we smile at the memory of Nelson Mandela.

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8.28 pm

Andrew Miller (Ellesmere Port and Neston) (Lab): I do not stand here as a religious man, but I think that the whole House would agree that Rose Hudson-Wilkin got it exactly right on Thursday evening when, along with my right hon. Friend the Member for Tottenham (Mr Lammy), she appeared on the BBC. I think the mood of the nation was very much on her mind. It got me thinking about some of my early involvement in the anti-apartheid struggle, which was trivial in the scale of things compared with the suffering that many people faced. At the very trivial end was disrupting trade by boycotting tinned fruit—we could not afford the fresh—but I am also talking about causing major blockages of supply lines, boycotting sporting links, protesting in Trafalgar square and elsewhere, and persuading one major, very successful pension fund, which continues to be successful, to disinvest from southern Africa. Those were the roles that I undertook as a trade unionist activist at that time. They were a part of my political life that were frowned on by many of those who today join me in saying what a great man we have lost.

Let me turn now to the period that formed my thinking. As a child, I heard Macmillan’s “wind of change” speech in 1960—I only just remember it. Less than a month later, we saw the Sharpeville massacre. Then came the 27-year jailing of Nelson Mandela. What he went through and how he came out with such dignity is beyond comprehension.

The 1970s were dominated by the death of Steve Biko. In the 1980s, I was involved with the Congress of South African Trade Unions. I remember having visitors from COSATU in my house. We were obviously being trailed by South African secret service officials, even though BOSS was supposed to have been abolished by that time. It is a shame that the British state was a party to that. Then change started to occur. When it was announced late on 10 February 1990 that Mandela was likely to be released, my great friend Ifor Edwards, who is a general practitioner—he is also known to my right hon. Friend the Member for Delyn (Mr Hanson)—and I decided to get in a car to be part of the great party in Trafalgar square where Nelson’s column was quite rightly renamed Mandela’s column.

Last year, it was a great privilege to be with a South African Minister talking about the next generation telescope in South Africa. I was able to say to her that it was a pleasure to see that room from the inside rather than from the outside.

I want to correct the record. My hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen North (Mr Doran) got his dates wrong when he referred to the plaque in Westminster Hall, which you played a great part in securing, Mr Speaker. Having started my contribution by praising a member of the support mechanism in the House, I will put in another challenge to you, Mr Speaker. On 8 September, as set out at column 562 of Hansard, I had an exchange with the then Leader of the House, now the Government Chief Whip, in which he effectively said that the wheels of this place turn mighty slowly. It had taken 10 years from the tabling of the early-day motion that I put down the day after Mandela came for that plaque to arrive in this House.

We need to reinforce the great work of that fantastic statesman. My hon. Friend the Member for Aberavon (Dr Francis) has come up with one idea, which is to

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place a great banner in the shadow Cabinet room. We need to go further and update the plaque, reflecting the dates of Mandela’s birth and death. Finally, we must remember that Mandela is the most revered statesman of the 20th century. He is a man who has touched us all, and who has set standards to which every politician should aspire, but only few will reach.

8.33 pm

Lilian Greenwood (Nottingham South) (Lab): There have been many powerful, personal and moving tributes this afternoon and this evening, and it has been a great privilege and a humbling experience to listen to them. I want to add a brief tribute to Nelson Mandela on behalf of my own constituents. Many people in Nottingham have already written in the book of condolence in our city’s Council House to set down what Nelson Mandela meant to them, to mourn his loss and to celebrate his life and legacy.

Nelson Mandela was an inspiration to so many of us. He was an outstanding politician who achieved what, for so many years, seemed utterly impossible—overturning the evil of apartheid and leading South Africa’s new rainbow nation with exceptional grace, humour and humility.

I happened to be visiting a number of local primary schools on Friday so I was able to join their assemblies paying tribute to Nelson Mandela. The children I stood in front of were all born long after his release from prison; for them, the 27 years he spent in captivity is an unimaginable length of time, but in each school they knew the story of Nelson Mandela’s life. They knew what he had achieved for the people of South Africa and why his fight for a free, equal and democratic society was important not just for his country but for all of us, too.

Those children, who reflected the wonderful diversity of the city of Nottingham, understood, as we do, that Nelson Mandela was an absolute giant of our time, demonstrating not only dignity, courage, tolerance and forgiveness but the need to hope when all hope seems lost, to stand up for what is right even when it requires the greatest of sacrifices and to fight injustice, even when success seems impossible. Nelson Mandela’s struggle, his victory and the way he exercised power are an inspiration to us all. The greatest tribute we can pay is to try to apply the lessons he taught us about how to do politics and how to make a real difference.

8.36 pm

Clive Efford (Eltham) (Lab): I do not feel that I have anything unique to add to the debate, but as a Member of Parliament who has been offered the opportunity to pay tribute to Nelson Mandela, I do not want to miss out on the chance to put my views on the record. I want also to reflect the outpouring of grief and celebration of this man’s life that I have witnessed in my constituency. Whether at religious ceremonies, in schools or community groups or at sports events, people have taken time to reflect and the community has come together to recognise the passing of this extraordinary man.

When we look back through history, we see that it is littered with people who are considered to be outstanding individuals. All too often, their start in life has given

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them a leg up or an opportunity that others do not get. When we read about Nelson Mandela’s childhood, however, and listen to interviews about when he was growing up, we hear that he grew up in a country that did not put any value on educating its black population. He relied on charities and religious organisations with missionaries who set up, built and furnished schools to provide him with a start in his education. He then left his community and went to Johannesburg, where he witnessed some of the worst poverty he had ever seen in his life. I like to think that somebody who comes from such a humble background is armed with something that other people do not have when it comes to challenging authority and making a real change on behalf of the people they represent. When he was confronted with a Government who refused to budge, he knew that each concession he might give in those negotiations was another injustice for the people he grew up with and knew so well.

The thing about him that touched my community and all of us so much was that having been through all that, having joined the freedom struggle in his country, and having suffered the indignity and injustice of 27 years of incarceration just for having the temerity to ask for freedom, when he was freed he put his country first above any personal consideration of retribution. He realised that only through peace and reconciliation could he prevent his country from being destroyed for generations on the back of the hatred and recrimination that would follow if he were to allow things to descend into any kind of internal conflict. The integrity and intellect he applied to his politics gave the leaders of the white minority population of that country the confidence that this was a man to lead their country through that process of reconciliation.

When we talk about the apartheid regime, we often overlook the fact that Nelson Mandela became an icon for people who were challenging racism. He met the family of Stephen Lawrence in 1993, and he said that

“the threat of fascism and racism is threatening the whole world”.

We should not forget those words.

The day after Nelson Mandela died, we put a message from him in the window of our Eltham constituency office:

“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

I can think of no greater tribute for us as Members of Parliament than to bear those words in mind when we make decisions, not just on international issues confronting us but in our communities and our society, and by having the courage of our experience that tells us what is the right thing to do on behalf of our community, taking forward Nelson Mandela’s legacy and the example that he gave to us all.

8.40 pm

Mr David Hanson (Delyn) (Lab): It is a great mystery to my children that it was not until I was 33 that I saw the face of Nelson Mandela in 1990. While I enjoyed a good life, going to primary school, secondary school and university, getting a job and developing my life, getting married and having children, Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison for his belief in a non-racist

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society in which everyone had an equal vote and could contribute, and in which people felt valued for who they were, not what they were seen to be by others.

I first felt the ripples of Nelson Mandela’s influence when I went to Hull university in 1975. I knew nothing of him before then, but to meet South Africans in exile, both white and black, bishops and students, who had come to the city with a message against South African oppression and about the work of Nelson Mandela in prison, calling on people on the other side of the world to join them in their struggle to help to relieve the pressure on lives in South Africa, was an immense privilege. Like many speakers today, I did not buy Cape apples or Stellenbosch wine, and I did not support the purchase of such goods from supermarkets. I, too, did not allow my university to profit from companies such as Barclays and Reckitt and Colman that invested in South Africa at that time.

Those were big challenges, but to people who ask whether it was worth it and whether anything changed, I believe that the ripples of Nelson Mandela came to us, and we put one pebble on the roof of the apartheid regime, and pebbles across the world were put on that roof until it fell in and Nelson Mandela was free. Those were difficult times. Steve Biko was murdered in a police cell. People routinely fell out of windows, or fell downstairs; they drowned in the bath; they were shot with a shotgun in the back of a vehicle for demanding the right to vote. We meet today to celebrate that life and to say to the people we represent, “Thank you for your small pebble on the roof of the apartheid regime—thank you for your contribution.” We stand here to celebrate the life of someone who stood for equality of opportunity¸ for fairness and justice, and who believed in the right to vote.

When I take school parties round the House of Commons I stop at two spots: first, the statue of Viscount Falkland, to which women chained themselves to get votes for women, to ensure that they voted in this community. I will now stop, for ever and a day, as long as I can serve in the House, at the plaque in Westminster Hall, and say to schoolchildren that I was privileged to stand in the Hall as a Member of Parliament and hear a man who had given 27 years of his life in the struggle for freedom speak to us as a free man. I will reinforce for those young people the fact that he did so, not just for freedom and for justice but for the right for all people to vote as equals.

That is a lesson for democracy for the future, and it is a lesson for us now. I am privileged that, although I never shook hands with Nelson Mandela—he walked just past me on that great day on 11 July 1996; I was three rows in—I saw him speak, I learned of his struggles, and I put one small pebble on that roof and helped in a small way, with many other people, to make South Africa the place that it is today, and I hope to encompass the values of Mandela for future generations.

8.44 pm

Seema Malhotra (Feltham and Heston) (Lab/Co-op): I am grateful for the opportunity to speak on behalf of my constituents in this incredibly special tribute debate.

I could scarcely believe the breaking news on Thursday night. It was a moment when the world stopped. South Africa had lost the father of its nation. The world had lost a very special leader and friend. But the debate and

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discussions over the past few days have brought him into our lives again in the most special of ways—so many people across the world sharing their memories and thoughts at the passing of a man who, in his own incredible way, had touched the hearts of so many millions in every corner of the globe. One of my constituents, Dave Howell, wrote to me on Friday and said he hoped there would be an annual international memorial day for Nelson Mandela, something I hope can become a reality and help to keep his memory alive for future generations.

Nelson Mandela was a leader who touched everyone. Everyone has a memory of meeting him or seeing him, of the way he inspired them or just the way he made them feel. I, too, was a child of the apartheid era. It helped shape my political consciousness. It was a time of political awakening for a generation of activists who were drawn together under the umbrella of the Anti-Apartheid Movement. This was one of my first experiences of campaigning, even before I joined the Labour party. It was unbelievable to me as a school pupil in a diverse place like Hounslow that there was a country in the modern world that practised and sanctioned segregation and such fundamental race inequality. I remember his release, the footage of him walking to freedom—quite an unbelievable moment to witness, so captivating through the television screen that you felt you were there. Such dignity, such humility, such magnanimity.

I would like to share with the House the words of Elizabeth Hughes from Feltham. Writing to others in an e-mail this weekend, she said:

“You will also I am sure be mourning the sad loss and remembering the achievements of Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela has been a symbol of hope and reconciliation, not just in South Africa but also throughout the world. I was very fortunate to meet him in 1996 when he visited London that summer. It was an overwhelming and inspirational experience to speak to him and then to hear him talk to the gathered crowd in Regents Park about his personal debt to the people of London and the wider British community who supported him on that Long Road to Freedom.”

He was not only the father of his nation, but a father figure to all who struggle for justice across the world. For my generation, the struggle against apartheid is a defining one. The boycott of Barclays, Cape and other South African companies and products was citizen action in pursuit of a just cause, proof that individuals anywhere can make a difference.

It is significant that the Anti-Apartheid Movement was founded in 1959 in London as the Boycott Movement. In February 1960, a month before the Sharpeville massacre, the leader of the Labour party, Hugh Gaitskell, was one of the key speakers who addressed a rally in Trafalgar square to launch the Boycott Movement. The Labour leader said that the boycott was a passionate protest against a repulsive doctrine that a man’s legal status, political rights, economic opportunities and social position shall be determined solely by the colour of his skin. There were those who opposed the boycotts, but history has proved them wrong.

When Nelson Mandela visited London in 1996 after his release, reports showed that the scenes in Brixton and everywhere he visited were akin to Beatlemania. His address to the Labour party conference in 2000 was a time I will never forget. It was such a privilege to be there—a time when he thanked those in the Anti-Apartheid Movement and the men and women in the Labour party who had given his struggle political expression and fought so unceasingly for an end to apartheid.

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It is entirely fitting that a statue of Nelson Mandela should stand in Parliament square, alongside Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln and Lloyd George. The floral tributes I saw there today, and the queues and books of condolence set up across the country, are proof of the deep affection of the British people towards Mandela. Long after we are all gone, the statue of Nelson Mandela in Parliament square, the statue at the Royal Festival hall, and the many buildings and spaces named after him will be a reminder of a great man’s life and struggle and his impact on Britain. There is also the remembrance of others who fought apartheid, such as Steve Biko, after whom Steve Biko way in Hounslow is named.

The lessons of Mandela’s extraordinary political career are simple enough: that no system of repression and dictatorship can stand resolute in the face of mass resistance and opposition; that politics is the best answer to injustice; and that when the battle has been won, the right course for sustainable peace and progress is to seek truth and reconciliation. To move from a system of apartheid to one of non-racial government in the space of a few months, and without reprisals or revenge, is a testament not only to one South African, but to all South Africans. It is a peace that has lasted.

Today we stand in solidarity with the people of South Africa. We join them in mourning the passing of a great man and joyfully celebrating a great life. South Africa is a better place because of Nelson Mandela. The world is a better place because of Nelson Mandela. This House, and the whole world, extends its love and thoughts to the family of Nelson Mandela at this time.

Several hon. Members rose—

Mr Speaker: Order. If colleagues can confine themselves to three-minute speeches, it should be possible to get everybody in, which is my only ambition for the rest of this evening.

8.50 pm

Alison McGovern (Wirral South) (Lab): It is a great honour to speak in this debate and to follow some truly brilliant speeches, not least the one we have just heard from my hon. Friend the Member for Feltham and Heston (Seema Malhotra). I want to make a brief contribution on behalf of my constituents as a tribute to Madiba and, in doing so, to pay tribute to a political idea: the idea of solidarity, a belief in togetherness and a belief that all we need to end injustice are open eyes and political will.

It has been said that Nelson Mandela was a politician, and he was. In fact, he was perhaps the best politician there has ever been. He wrote in 1969:

“A new world will be won not by those who stand at a distance with their arms folded, but by those who are in the arena, whose garments are torn by storms and whose bodies are maimed in the course of the contest. Honour belongs to those who never forsake the truth even when things seem dark and grim, who try over and over again”.

I read those words, which were written in prison, and know that however rough the path we travel, we must keep going.

I want to speak briefly about the contribution made to Mandela’s struggle, and that of South Africa, by a constituent of mine, but first let me pay tribute to the

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South Africans, to their will to see change in their country and to the thousands of anti-apartheid campaigners across the world and in the UK, including many in this House from whom we have heard today. That activism shaped my childhood. I want to say to each of those who took part in that struggle that for my generation they were an example. They set a standard of solidarity that we try to meet. At the time when apartheid reigned, certain alliances and geopolitical interests prevented some who could have acted from doing so. We must constantly challenge ourselves not to repeat that mistake.

My reason for speaking is not least to talk about the contribution of a constituent of mine from Heswall. He happens to have been my history teacher at Wirral grammar school many years ago. He was my teacher from my first year at school, and he also taught my sister. Bill McCaig’s hallmark as a teacher was his friendliness and enthusiasm. We all knew that about him, but what we never knew at the time, which we found out only recently, was his role in supporting the ANC in its fight against the vicious apartheid regime.

Today we are rightly telling Nelson Mandela’s story, and that of the whole movement. Bill was politically involved and, like many from Liverpool, he was also a seaman. It was through those political and professional links that he became part of a secret network of people linked to the ANC who, during some of the darkest years, when ANC leaders were all locked away, chose to keep the struggle alive. The ANC needed people who would not be suspected to go to South Africa to distribute leaflets and give hope that the ANC would not be crushed.

Bill is a scouser, but when asked to carry out dangerous work for South Africa, for people he barely knew and in a continent far from home, he answered the call. He used his position as a seaman to get to South Africa to distribute materials, pass information from the ANC in London, and take part in other operations. Along with many, many others, he put his freedom in jeopardy for the greater good. When I asked him why he did this, he said, “Well, I wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t think that in the end we would win.” The idea that history was on their side sustained him and his comrades. To me, this is what Madiba taught us. When we stand in solidarity across national borders, we make progress in human dignity. When we refuse to accept that our moral empathy ends at our country’s border post, we all gain in human happiness.

When talking to my old history teacher in recent days, Bill also said to me that attempts to deify Mandela should be resisted. Mandela was an acutely aware politician, and he knew that a successful country must be united. We are all the same, and given the right principles we all have the capacity to show love and care for one another. White people’s talents and skills were also needed in South Africa.

In 2005 Mandela came to London to teach us once again. I stood in the crowds, one face among thousands, staring up at our very great hero. When the music played at the end of his speech, I remember him dancing. He came on that occasion with an important message for us all—that the tyranny and oppression of poverty must end. The lesson I take from this is that people are the same the world over. I recently read a note Mandela wrote in 1993 in which he describes his priority before he became President. He said about his people:

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“Specifically we must get them houses and put to an end informal settlements; end unemployment, school crisis, lack of medical facilities.”

Jobs, health, education: what we all want for each other. Let that be Mandela’s legacy.

8.56 pm

Susan Elan Jones (Clwyd South) (Lab): I feel supremely unqualified to speak in this debate having followed people of such great knowledge and campaigning experience in the Anti-Apartheid Movement. I think especially of my right hon. Friend the Member for Neath (Mr Hain), that great South African Welsh—if I may call him that—internationalist.

The main reason I am speaking is that I promised primary school pupils—my constituents—at Ysgol Bro Dyfrdwy in Cynwyd that I would do so. On Friday I was privileged to take part in their school assembly and to hear their tributes to Nelson Mandela. The thought came to me that many tributes will be televised and many people—the great and the good—will be speaking at them, but there are tributes and memorials all over our nation and all over our world that will not be recorded in the history books but will be equally heartfelt, sincere and well made.

It is fitting to remember those in the Anti-Apartheid Movement across the villages and small towns of England, Wales and the rest of the United Kingdom. We have heard the great stories of struggle in London and our large cities, but we also need to remember that through the great grassroots organisations across our country—the trade unions and the churches—petitions were signed outside small branches of banks and people walked from door to door urging a boycott. Like my hon. Friend the Member for Aberavon (Dr Francis), I pay great tribute to those people and to the Welsh Anti-Apartheid Movement and its work in the campaigning struggle across Wales.

I would like to offer a short reflection on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. There has been a great deal of talk about forgiveness and reconciliation as though they are natural phenomena, but I do not believe they are. One thing that the great struggle of Nelson Mandela proved was that forgiveness and reconciliation are not just moral or spiritual truths, and certainly not just abstract concepts; they were viewed as an absolute necessity for the change that needed to happen.

I pay great tribute to you, Mr Speaker, for the honesty you have shown in saying that you got it wrong on the apartheid issue. I have to confess that once upon a time I stood waving a placard outside the university of Bristol union against someone who was viewed as a very right-wing member of the Federation of Conservative Students. I could not possibly name that person; suffice it to say that I think he looks rather better sat in a green chair and wearing a tie with the flag of South Africa on it.

Mr Speaker: Yes, I fear it was on 23 October 1986; I remember it only too well. I am grateful to the hon. Lady, I am sure, for reminding me.

8.59 pm

Mark Lazarowicz (Edinburgh North and Leith) (Lab/Co-op): I am glad to have a chance to say a few words in tribute to Nelson Mandela. Edinburgh was one of the

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many UK cities that paid homage to Nelson Mandela by offering him the freedom of the city, which he gave us the honour of accepting. That award from Edinburgh came fairly late in the day—much later, I am afraid, than that from our friends in Glasgow—because Edinburgh city council required a two-thirds majority to grant someone freedom of the city and at the time the award was first suggested in the 1980s, as an act of solidarity, the council chamber did not, to put it tactfully, share the same political consensus on Nelson Mandela’s virtues as that shared by this Chamber today.

I am glad to say that when the freedom of the city was proposed some years later, shortly before the 1997 Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Edinburgh, the council agreed unanimously that it should be offered to Nelson Mandela, and President Mandela, as he then was, found the time to accept the award in person when he attended that Commonwealth meeting.

Although that freedom of the city came late, I can say with pride that we did not have to wait as long for the support given by many of the people of Edinburgh to the Anti-Apartheid Movement. Like many communities up and down the country, many people in Edinburgh gave their support in many ways to the campaign against apartheid.

I want to mention three groups in particular. First, the Scottish trade unions, particularly the National Union of Mineworkers, headquartered in Edinburgh, played a leading role—similar to that played by the union in Wales, as mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Aberavon (Dr Francis)—in the Anti-Apartheid Movement in Scotland. As in Wales, the Scottish churches played a leading role in the movement. I should also mention the Scottish academics and students, not least those of Edinburgh university, who were at the forefront of the disinvestment campaign, in which my right hon. Friend the Member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath (Mr Brown) also played an important part.

Edinburgh also became home to many exiles from South Africa during the apartheid years, no doubt because of those historic links and solidarity. In many cases, they were political activists who would, of course, have faced heavy penalties if they had conducted that activity in South Africa. They took part in, and inspired others to join, anti-apartheid campaigns in Edinburgh and elsewhere. Some of those South African exiles still live in Edinburgh. Although they will no doubt be in mourning, they will also be immensely proud of what Nelson Mandela did in his life for the country and for the world. As one of Edinburgh’s representatives in this Chamber, it is a great privilege and honour to have been able to offer my tribute to him today.

9.2 pm

Debbie Abrahams (Oldham East and Saddleworth) (Lab): Thank you for calling me to speak, Mr Speaker. I reiterate what other Members have said: this has been an exceptional debate and I am really grateful to be able to take part in it.

My husband John was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1952, during the apartheid era. He is a man of mixed-race and under the apartheid racial classification system he was defined as a Cape coloured. The daily indignities that he, his family and countless millions of other South Africans had to face had a profound effect on him: where he lived, the school he went to—not only

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were schools segregated; he was not allowed to start until he was seven years old—and the buses and trains on which he was allowed to travel all had a tremendous impact on him. He talked very movingly recently at an Oldham school that he visited with me. He recounted the time when a young black man was involved in a road traffic accident. An ambulance came, but it was a white-only ambulance. They refused to treat him, went away and the young man died.

Relationships were, of course, monitored. People were not allowed to marry outside their racial group. We were not able to go back to South Africa until after the elections when Mandela came to power.

The great love of my husband’s life was cricket. Obviously, he had not met me at that time, although I think he would probably still say that cricket is the great love of his life! Sport was used to undermine people. John and his family, including his mum and dad, played in the street with sticks. There were no cricket clubs; they were segregated. In spite of that, John’s dad, Cec, along with Basil D’Oliveira, was selected to play for South Africa, but for a non-white South Africa. These dehumanising experiences had a profound effect on John and millions of others.

John felt much guilt at escaping from the horrors of apartheid when he came to live in this country in 1962, leaving others, including family members, to continue the struggle. His cousin was imprisoned during the regime, and that bore heavily on her life and that of the family.

For John and countless others Nelson Mandela stood as a beacon of hope. His drive for democracy and equality for all races was unrelenting, but what made him one of the most exceptional human beings of all time was that, in spite of all that he had been deprived of, the physical and emotional trauma that he was put through, he embraced that without bitterness or recrimination. It would have been so easy and understandable to have responded to that in a different way. I have no doubt that the relatively smooth transition from white minority rule to democratic South Africa was down to him.

Many people have said that Mandela made them want to do better and be better, and that is absolutely right. As much as he saw the goodness in others, we recognised the goodness in him. He was an archetypal leader, living the values he espoused with dignity, humility and honour, trying to make South Africa, and in turn the world, a better place.

The world is a better place as a result of Nelson Mandela. We have much to be grateful to him for and to learn from him. But it is far from perfect. Britain is still a very unequal country. Hon. Members on both sides of the House have been sincere in recognising his strengths and values, but words ring hollow if they are not followed up by action. I urge all hon. Members to consider that. It is unacceptable in this country in this day and age that one in four young black men is unemployed, and one in 14 young white men is unemployed. We must do something about such inequalities. They persist even across groups with the same educational attainment levels. We must redouble our efforts to build a fairer, more just society. It would be an insult to Mandela’s memory not to do so. Madiba, with love and gratitude, rest well.

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9.7 pm

Barry Gardiner (Brent North) (Lab): How fitting that this day of all days in Parliament should have begun with prayers led by the Rev. Rose Hudson-Wilkin, the first black woman to become Speaker’s Chaplain. I am grateful to you, Mr Speaker, for allowing me to speak in this debate, but I am grateful even more to colleagues on both sides of the House for the privilege of listening to their reflections on Nelson Mandela and the inspiration that they have drawn from his life.

At the time of the South African Barbarians rugby tour of 1979, my wife Caroline and I were young newlyweds, and I remember that we made the journey only a few weeks into our marriage to protest against the tour. We were not politically sophisticated—my colleagues will no doubt attest to the fact that not much has changed—but we recognised the simple injustice of apartheid and we had to express our revulsion to it.

I was privileged in 2006 to be shown into Mandela’s cell on Robben Island by Ahmed Kathrada, the youngest of the defendants in the Rivonia trial. He allowed me a few quiet moments to reflect on the 27 years of my life that had passed since going on that first demonstration—the same period that Mandela had spent in that cell. It was profoundly humbling.

I am here today not to express my personal reminiscences, but to express the respect of my constituents who feel that their lives are enlarged by the knowledge that they have lived at the same time as Mandela. My borough of Brent is perhaps the most diverse place in Europe, and perhaps it is for that reason that it was the first to honour Mandela by naming a street after him. Brent understands his essential message that people of different race and different belief can and must live alongside one another.

It is said that power corrupts, but the truth is that power reveals. It allows the powerful to show their true nature. The reason that power seems to corrupt is that too often it reveals the corrupt nature of those who gain power. The glory of Nelson Mandela is that power revealed in him not rancour and bitterness but the extraordinary noble nature, the great soul of one who had suffered and not forgotten the purpose to which he had dedicated his life—the dignity of all human beings and their right to justice.

9.9 pm

Chris Ruane (Vale of Clwyd) (Lab): I want to thank you, Mr Speaker, for clearing the parliamentary decks today to allow us to pay tribute to Nelson Mandela. I offer condolences to his family and to the people of South Africa from the people of the Vale of Clwyd, whom I represent. I did not meet Nelson Mandela. I have no photograph of Nelson Mandela. I have not even been in the same room as Nelson Mandela. The one connection I have with him is that we shared the same birthday—18 July—although I was born a lot later than he was. That birthday is also shared by Fiona Owen, the daughter of my hon. Friend the Member for Ynys Môn (Albert Owen).

Tributes have been paid across all the nations and regions of the United Kingdom. I want to emphasise the role that Wales, and particularly my area of Wales, played in the struggle against apartheid. The Welsh trade unions and the mining and steel communities

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played a great role, linking up with COSATU—the Congress of South African Trade Unions. Glenys and Neil Kinnock also played a big part, as did that adopted son of Wales, my right hon. Friend the Member for Neath (Mr Hain), along with Hanif Bhamjee, the organiser of the Anti-Apartheid Movement in Wales, and the Welsh Churches.

My hon. Friend the Member for Clwyd South (Susan Elan Jones) has pointed out that it was not only in the great cities of Cardiff, Glasgow and London that the struggle took place. It took place in the small towns of my constituency, including the market town of Denbigh. The Anti-Apartheid Movement there was set up by Pat Bowker, Barbara Manley, Norman and Lynda Roberts, Dai Cuba and Dai Jones. In 1986, the Anti-Apartheid Movement in Rhyl was set up by a dynamic, principled and dedicated young woman called Gill Roberts. She did such a good job that I married her seven years later.

There were others, including Jeff Blythin, a local folk singer who helped to raise funds for the Anti-Apartheid Movement, his wife, Janet Blythin, who was our banner maker, Jane Thomas and many others. We were involved in activities such as trolley bashes and boycotts, we invited ANC speakers down and we organised petitions and leaflets and press releases, as well as raising much-needed funds for the ANC.

Nelson Mandela has taught us many lessons, and the principal one is that of reconciliation. I believe that, if enough attention were paid to the matter, what he did for blacks and whites in South Africa could also be done for Shi’as and Sunnis, for Christians and Muslims, for Jews and Palestinians and, in our own country, for Protestants and Catholics.

Nelson Mandela has also taught us excellent lessons in leadership. Many of us in this House have inflated egos—[Hon. Members: “Never”!] I do not count myself among them, of course. We can all learn from his self-deprecation, his accessibility, his humour and his capacity for forgiveness. He combated bigotry not only in fighting apartheid but in standing up for gay rights and for people with AIDS.

Nelson Mandela was also a role model as a father. Tributes have been paid to his roles as a freedom fighter, a statesman and a politician, but he also played a great role as a father, a grandfather and a great-grandfather. He was also a father to his nation and to many of us around the world. He said:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

I was a teacher for 15 years before becoming an MP, and I think that if his political philosophy of peace, reconciliation, forgiveness and equality can be matched with his educational and parenting philosophy of the uniqueness, individuality and brilliance of each and every one of us, there is a much greater chance of our providing the future Nelson Mandelas that this world so desperately needs.

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9.14 pm

Toby Perkins (Chesterfield) (Lab): I am tremendously privileged to pay my own tribute. What I have to say feels inadequate in the light of the gargantuan contributions of some of my right hon. Friends, but it is important to me, on behalf of the people of Chesterfield, to have a few moments to reflect on our admiration for Nelson Mandela, as shown by the books of condolence that have been signed in Chesterfield town hall while we have been speaking. I congratulate my right hon. Friends the Members for Doncaster North (Edward Miliband), for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath (Mr Brown) and for Neath (Mr Hain) on their speeches, which I found deeply moving and incredibly powerful.

Mandela’s massive contribution to the world was not just, as the Prime Minister acknowledged, as

“a pivotal figure in the history of South Africa”,

but as someone who gave a wider example to humankind of forgiveness, bravery, tolerance and self-sacrifice in pursuit of higher ideals. Other hon. Members have spoken about the role played by this country in the best and the worst of South Africa’s history.

I know how many from Chesterfield were involved in their own way in the British arm of the struggle against apartheid. I remember my mother moving her bank account from Barclays, as many opponents of apartheid did, and the numerous tiny gestures made by so many people, which all maintained the pressure of the world against the idea that South Africa’s way of operating was normal or acceptable. We remember the huge message sent around the world by the 70th birthday concert at Wembley, and we know how important the sporting boycotts, from the D’Oliveira affair to the bans for cricketers who played in South Africa, were for a proud sporting nation such as South Africa. It was therefore so uplifting that Mandela should have recognised the huge role of the Springboks in the psyche of white South Africa. By extending the arm of friendship to, and supporting, the 1995 Springbok team that famously won the rugby world cup, he showed the tremendous gift of forgiveness, which will be his enduring legacy. Long after all those who remember apartheid have gone, his example will shine through the pages of history.

As I reflect on Britain’s role in the history of South Africa, I recall from my childhood my parents’ friends Mike and Jeanette Murphy, who fled from house arrest in apartheid South Africa, where Mike worked as a trade union secretary for the black Transport and General Workers Union, as well as their tales of life under the regime. I well remember Jeanette’s pride in and sorrow for the beautiful country that they had been forced to leave, and that was very powerful for me in my formative years. I also remember the sense of frustration that while so many British people opposed apartheid, our Government provided the regime with a cover of authenticity and defence.

More than anything else, my reflections are on Mandela the icon—the generous hero, whose memory we are so proud to recall today, and whose example will inspire us for many decades to come.

9.17 pm

Huw Irranca-Davies (Ogmore) (Lab): After so many brilliant speeches, I have the humble task of presenting the thanks of the constituents of Ogmore for, frankly,

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a towering figure of the 20th century, who faced the most extreme adversity and was prepared to live and, as we have heard, to die in fighting the evil oppression of apartheid, while also being outspoken in the defence of many other oppressed people throughout the world. Nelson Mandela was very human—flawed in the way that we are both blessed and cursed to be, and open to doubts, despair and errors, as we all are—but he never wavered from his central mission to remove the stain of apartheid from South Africa. In doing so, he went further and reminded all of us flawed individuals that we can strive to be our better selves, the people we want to be and the embodiment of the society we want to create.

We have to learn and re-learn those lessons anew each time we face oppression and cruelty or attacks on freedom and equality. The continued oppression of so many people in so many countries and regions around the world is a continuing reminder that such battles for freedom, equality and tolerance will continue, and that we should never turn away and never be silent.

Yet Nelson Mandela showed time and again that victory and success are found not just in how people battle their oppressors, but in how they seek the peace and rebuilding of a nation. After 27 years of captivity and isolation, after his release and his subsequent electoral success, and at every moment at which he might understandably have sought vengeance, he sought only truth and reconciliation. In place of hubris, there was humility. In the early days after apartheid, when he and the ANC could have turned against their former oppressors, he urged them to turn towards them and to work together for a better collective future. The magnitude of that magnanimity is incredible, even today. It is compelling evidence of the tactical and visionary leadership of Nelson Mandela.

I had the privilege, like many Labour MPs, of seeing Nelson Mandela speak at the Labour conference. He carried the expectations of a nation on his back. No matter how strong the frame, that is a weight that could break lesser men. What is not often remarked upon is his humour—a bright and infectious easy-going humour. Despite having had the most grotesque and extreme of life’s Kafkaesque travails visited upon him and his fellow men, women and children in South Africa—or perhaps because of that—he came through it all with an optimism that people are capable of the greatness, compassion, kindness and collective good will that will ultimately defeat the terror of the darkest night.

Flawed as we are, we are capable of far better than we imagine. We can be better than we think we are. That is perhaps the greatest and the most enduring global legacy of Nelson Mandela.

9.21 pm

Mr David Anderson (Blaydon) (Lab): My right hon. Friend the Member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath (Mr Brown) said that Mandela hated to be classed as a saint. What he wanted to be was a sinner who was helping others. I will talk about some of the people he tried to help in his country while he was in prison and about some of the people around the world who helped him.

On 16 September 1986, 177 miners were killed at the Kinross gold mine in the Eastern Transvaal when a welder’s spark ignited plastic foam lining the wall of

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a tunnel. That foam was banned in other mines around the world, but such was the contempt that the owners of the gold mines in South Africa had for their workers that those 177 miners were just the latest figure. The number would reach 96,000 people between 1900 and 1993. A British miner who worked at the mine said:

“They didn't stand a chance—they were trapped by the smoke.”

They were killed “where they stood”. The leader of the union at that time, Cyril Ramaphosa, said:

“We are horrified that this type of accident can take place in this day and age in the mining industry. In our view we are obviously back to the dark ages of mining—and there doesn’t seem to be much improvement in safety standards”.

What compounded the disaster was that the owners of the mine delayed the announcement that it had happened. They then refused to name the 177 individuals and instead announced them by ethnic group. They were Zulu or Bantu. Such was the contempt that people were not even named when they died. That contempt was further compounded when the union asked to hold a memorial service. It was banned from doing so in South Africa. I am proud that, even though we should not have had to do it, the National Union of Mineworkers, of which I was a member at the time, smuggled Cyril Ramaphosa out of South Africa and held a memorial service in Sheffield cathedral. The great role that that city played was mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield Central (Paul Blomfield). That should not have been necessary, but it is a tribute to ordinary working people around the world that they did such things.

I will talk briefly about some of the people in this country who worked for South Africa. The leader of my party said earlier that there are millions of names that we do not know. I want to mention four names: John McFadden, a Glaswegian, Rita Donaghy, now Baroness Donaghy, and Ralph Gayton, who are three former presidents of my union, Unison, and its predecessor, the National and Local Government Officers Association, and Jan Stockwell, who was an international officer of the same union. They spent weeks in 1984 going to Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town. They took travellers cheques to that country, cashed them and put the money in the hands of ordinary men and women so that they could build and organise trade unions.

That trade union movement was there all the time to support the struggle against apartheid and it was there when Mandela came out of jail. That provided a network that he could build on. That is where he got his strength from when he came out of jail. It was on that group of people that he built the democratic society that we know today. The TUC in this country gave Nelson Mandela a gold medal in absentia and launched a major campaign, working with the boycott campaign. Rodney Bickerstaffe, who was the general secretary of Unison and the National Union of Public Employees, visited Mandela in jail and brought back a smuggled tape, which was played at the TUC conference. When millions of people do the right thing, it is the epitome of what trade unions and ordinary working people can do when they come together. Nelson Mandela was hugely proud of and grateful to trade unionists across the world, and he identified himself clearly as one of them.

In closing, I wish to refer to a quotation that has been mentioned at least twice today, most recently by my hon. Friend the Member for Eltham (Clive Efford). Nelson Mandela said that people can be taught to love

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in the same way that they can learn to hate. Showing international trade union solidarity, that quote is on the US Labour Against the War website. Ordinary people are coming together to support a great man who really made a change in the lives of other ordinary people.

9.25 pm

Nia Griffith (Llanelli) (Lab): Today in the Chamber, and over the past few days, we have heard many moving tributes to Nelson Mandela from across the world. We have heard about his amazing humanity in spite of his 27-year imprisonment, his humility in spite of his extraordinary leadership qualities and worldwide stature, and his forgiveness for and reconciliation with those who prosecuted and imprisoned him. Those are the qualities that we remember and revere.

Those of us of my generation who were at university in the ’70s first heard of Nelson Mandela through the Anti-Apartheid Movement. That is in contrast with the fact that in 2005, my niece became a member of a class and a house named after Mandela at her school. In my day, in the ’70s, the movement was still quite frowned upon. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St Pancras (Frank Dobson) said, we often wondered whether we would ever make any difference through the various demonstrations and rallies in which we were involved, through calling for trade sanctions and disinvestment in South African, through trying to persuade fellow students to boycott Barclays bank or through looking at where oranges came from before buying them, not to mention through the higher-profile sporting campaigns.

Of course, most of us who have not visited South Africa could scarcely comprehend the second and third-hand accounts that we heard of the day-to-day reality of apartheid—the indignity, the harassment, the oppression, the denial of opportunity, the entrenched inequality, the violence and the struggle.

The most extraordinary thing about Nelson Mandela was his ability and capacity to drive forgiveness and reconciliation. If some Members have found it difficult today to listen to those who they feel condoned the apartheid regime, actively or tacitly, they should think about how much more difficult it was for him not just to show personal forgiveness for all the suffering that he had endured but to inspire others to come together and work together to overcome deeply entrenched attitudes of hatred, violence and the temptation to seek revenge.

The way in which Nelson Mandela went on to lead his country, and then to change attitudes towards HIV and AIDS and work on the world stage, was amazing. He was able to come from oppression to lead constructive reconciliation. The most important way in which we can pay tribute to him is to continue to challenge injustice wherever we see it, both in our own country and across the world, particularly, as many Members have mentioned, in the middle east. We should seek to reach out and speak to those on both sides of conflict, even if that seems an impossible task. The message of Nelson Mandela’s very, very long walk to freedom and his remarkable optimism in the face of tremendous adversity is that change is possible.

9.29 pm

Geraint Davies (Swansea West) (Lab/Co-op): The people of Swansea Bay city region and Neath have been supporting this cause for more than 50 years. In

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100 years’ time, the story of Nelson Mandela will be known and repeated by schoolchildren around the world when many other people are forgotten. It is a story of religious proportions. It is the story of a man who resisted the injustice of people not having rights or votes on the basis of their skin colour, who was imprisoned simply for his principles rather than for a crime, and who emerged from incarceration 27 years later not embittered but enlightened, offering the hand of friendship and partnership to his captors and oppressors—an act of forgiveness that avoided a future bathed in blood. We have already heard this quotation today, but I think that in 100 years people will still be reading and saying:

“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

Mandela was born on 18 July 1918, which happened to be six days before the birth of my father, whose own father died when he was 12, as did Mandela’s. Other global events were taking place at the time. John F. Kennedy was born in the preceding year, and in 1960, when he stood for the presidency, he did so largely on a platform of racial integration. That was the year in which I was born, and it was the tragic year in which 67 people were massacred in Sharpeville. They were innocent black protesters, and many were shot in the back. That was the point at which Mandela moved away from protest that involved no direct action and towards violent protest and sabotage, and the point at which the ANC was criminalised. Mandela took that action to focus the world’s attention on South Africa and the need for democracy and human rights, and some 200 acts took place during that period.

Meanwhile, in the State of the Union address, JFK was calling for the right of black people in America to vote, and the mood of the world was beginning to change. In 1962, when Nelson Mandela was arrested, the great majority of people thought that he would be executed. Nine out of 10 white people thought that he was just a terrorist, and very few knew that he was an attorney. It took the judge some three weeks to reach his conclusion, partly—as was pointed out by my right hon. Friend the Member for Neath—because of the demands for clemency, and partly because of the calculation that his execution would trigger an awful bloodbath.

As we heard from my hon. Friend the Member for Walsall North (Mr Winnick), it took 25 years—until Mandela’s 70th birthday—for us to witness a crescendo in the calls for his release. At the age of 18, I was singing along to “Free Nelson Mandela” at that famous concert and supporting the cause. It was not until 1990 that Mandela was released, and famously said in response to the impending civil war between the ANC and other black groups:

“Take your guns, your knives…and throw them into the sea.”

It must be remembered that his principles were applied to black and white alike, some of whom would have wanted to see a violent end to what was a very long-lasting conflict.

As we all know, in 1994 Mandela was elected President. I find it very interesting that a person’s opinions can change and mature over 27 years, and that such a change can actually change the future of the world.

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This was a man who kept going day after day, year after year, in incarceration, driven by ideals, not thinking of himself and with no fear for himself. This was a man who said:

“Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”

He was a true global hero of his time. This is my favourite quotation:

“Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is…man-made and can be…eradicated by the actions of human beings.”

He also said:

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

The spirit of Mandela lives on. Let us live our lives true to that spirit.

9.34 pm

Ms Angela Eagle (Wallasey) (Lab): So far, 68 right hon. and hon. Members have spoken in this day of tributes to Nelson Mandela, and there will be two more, taking us up to 70. I thank you, Mr Speaker, for allowing this to happen: it was an entirely fitting tribute after the death of the pre-eminent statesman of our age. I also look forward to the event that you have allowed to be organised in Westminster Hall, where members of the public who have contributed so much to the battles that we have heard about today will have their chance to remember the struggles against the apartheid regime and to remember the life of Nelson Mandela.

We have heard many heartfelt speeches and observations in today’s tributes to the life and achievements of Nelson Mandela. He was clearly the pre-eminent politician and freedom fighter of his generation and of the many generations that followed in his long life of service and sacrifice. He was a worthy hero of our age whose life spanned great and profound changes in Africa as it moved from colonial domination to self-determination. In an era when notoriety and celebrity rest on trivial foundations, Mandela’s worldwide fame and popularity were of a wholly different and much more profound order.

We have heard today from those who met him and were able to work with him through the tough and desperate times as well as in the times of triumph, constitutional shaping and reconciliation after he was released from prison. We had three heartfelt and extremely good initial contributions to our tributes today from the Prime Minister, his deputy and my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, who pointed out the transforming power of politics that Mandela exemplified by his life and conduct. We have heard of the leading role of students, trade unions and churches in the movement to end the stain of apartheid in South Africa, many of which have been highlighted in the tributes today.

We heard from the right hon. and learned Member for Kensington (Sir Malcolm Rifkind), who told us of his experience as Foreign Secretary at the time that change was beginning to happen. We heard a particularly great speech from the right hon. Member for North East Bedfordshire (Alistair Burt), who was gracious enough to ensure that the words of Peter Pike, the ex-Labour MP for Burnley and stalwart of the Anti-Apartheid Movement, were heard in this House on this day.

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We had the self-effacing contribution from the right hon. Member for Ross, Skye and Lochaber (Mr Kennedy), who let us know that he had been mistaken for Nigel Kennedy and subsequently airbrushed out of photographs of meetings with the great man. We heard from the hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Miss McIntosh) who talked about the release of Mandela from jail being one of those pivotal moments in history. We heard from the right hon. and learned Member for North East Fife (Sir Menzies Campbell) about the importance of the sports boycott, and from the hon. Member for Moray (Angus Robertson) about the importance of Glasgow’s anti-apartheid campaigning. The hon. Member for North West Norfolk (Mr Bellingham) admitted that the Conservatives were not exactly on the right side of the struggle against apartheid.

We heard from the hon. Member for Northampton North (Michael Ellis), who noted the extraordinary absence of resentment and bitterness in Mandela’s response. We heard also from the right hon. Member for Bermondsey and Old Southwark (Simon Hughes) who talked about his experiences visiting the destroyed Crossroads settlement, and also from the hon. Member for Worthing West (Sir Peter Bottomley). The hon. Member for Mid Norfolk (George Freeman) said that Mandela was a politician who answered the test of political leadership and was a shining example of what we can all aspire to.

We heard, too, from the right hon. Member for Saffron Walden (Sir Alan Haselhurst), the hon. Member for Bournemouth East (Mr Ellwood), the right hon. Member for Croydon South (Richard Ottaway) and the hon. Members for Cheltenham (Martin Horwood) and for Banbury (Sir Tony Baldry), and the hon. Member for Worcester (Mr Walker) who talked about the important role played by Basil D’Oliveira, who was a constituent of his, and what happened to him. We heard from the right hon. Member for Eddisbury (Mr O'Brien) about his personal contributions to the anti-apartheid struggle, and we heard from the right hon. Member for Gordon (Sir Malcolm Bruce) and the hon. Members for Ribble Valley (Mr Evans) and for Birmingham, Yardley (John Hemming).

We have also had some magnificent tributes from those on the Opposition Benches, in particular from my right hon. Friend the Member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath (Mr Brown), who made a magnificent speech at the beginning of our tributes, whose references ranged from Shakespeare to Amy Winehouse and who emphasised the belief that no injustice can last for ever, and from my right hon. Friend the Member for Neath (Mr Hain), who brought his unique perspective, outlining in all its banality the evil precision of apartheid, and the connection between his family and the battle to end it.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Derby South (Margaret Beckett) reminded us that Mandela was a politician and party leader who was engaged in politics. This theme was taken up by other Members, who mentioned that in an era when politics is a dirty word we must remember the transforming potential of political change to make a difference in a good way to how societies develop and to bring about change.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St Pancras (Frank Dobson), who represents the constituency in which the Anti-Apartheid Movement was founded in 1959, was very involved in the many

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campaigns against the injustice of apartheid and made a profound observation when he said Mandela made racists look pathetic.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Leicester East (Keith Vaz) reminded us of what an inspiration Mandela was for many in this world. My right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds Central (Hilary Benn) said it was hard to find words to do justice to what Mandela had achieved in his extraordinary life, with his calm, dignified and resolute approach. He was followed by my hon. Friend the Member for Walsall North (Mr Winnick) who reminded us of Steve Biko, who was murdered in police custody, as were many other fighters for freedom involved in the battle to end apartheid.

My hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield Central (Paul Blomfield), 25 years a member of the Anti-Apartheid Movement, said it took too long for this country to recognise the fact that the South African leadership was actually on Robben Island and to engage with it. He also said reconciliation is built on forgiving, not forgetting, and truth has to come before reconciliation. He pointed out that justice was hard fought for and freedom was hard won.

My hon. Friend the Member for Aberavon (Dr Francis) talked about the influence the South African constitution, which is one of the most progressive ever, still has on the battle for human rights. My right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton (Sir Gerald Kaufman) talked about how Mandela had said to him that you have to sustain your values in prison.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Tottenham (Mr Lammy) gave a passionate speech about the effect of Mandela’s example in the communities he represents and among the black and minority ethnic communities struggling for equality in our country. My right hon. Friend the Member for Rother Valley (Mr Barron) talked about the Kitson committee at Ruskin, which opened his eyes to the real situation in South Africa. Indeed, a theme of today’s tributes has been how many people had their eyes opened by the community in exile and how through their campaigning, often when they talked to students, the reality of what was going on in South Africa came to be known.

My hon. Friend the Member for Islington North (Jeremy Corbyn) paid tribute to those who fought apartheid and died doing so. He talked particularly about the evil of apartheid, and he also mentioned Bernie Grant and Tony Banks. We have also heard in detail about the contributions of Bob Hughes, Dick Caborn and the Kinnocks, who were absolute stalwarts of the battle. My right hon. Friend the Member for East Renfrewshire (Mr Murphy) made a speech about living close to Robben Island and brought us his unique insight into what was happening there, after his family had emigrated to South Africa.

My hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle upon Tyne Central (Chi Onwurah) made a particularly important point when she said that many took apartheid personally because it was so personal, and that the effect it had on the self-esteem of people of colour was so profound that it had to be fought. My hon. Friend the Member for St Helens North (Mr Watts) said that Mandela was a gift to the whole world. My right hon. Friend the Member for Dulwich and West Norwood (Dame Tessa Jowell) recalled Mandela’s visit to Brixton, which is still

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remembered so profoundly. My hon. Friend the Member for York Central (Hugh Bayley) made the important point that the role that Africans played in South Africa in their own liberation was the crucial one, and that a lot of the work done in solidarity outside this place and in this country was helpful but not central to the battle for liberation which was won.

My hon. Friend the Member for Ynys Môn (Albert Owen) said that the segregation and race hatred experienced by his black friends when he went to see them taught him the realities of apartheid. The hon. Member for Foyle (Mark Durkan) brought us an important Irish perspective on the struggle. My hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen North (Mr Doran) also talked about Bob Hughes, rightly putting on the record the great work that he did, and praised his own city of Glasgow for granting the freedom of that great city to Mandela before anybody else.

My hon. Friend the Member for Hackney North and Stoke Newington (Ms Abbott) talked with passion about the reality of a fight for equality and justice for those in the black community here. My right hon. Friend the Member for Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill (Mr Clarke) once more recalled Glasgow’s solidarity and the work that went on in fighting apartheid then. My hon. Friend the Member for Walsall South (Valerie Vaz) remembered Mandela for being so successful in his fight against apartheid. My hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Stephen Twigg) spoke for many of us when he said that this battle against apartheid was the great progressive cause for those of us who were getting active in the 1970s and 1980s—I can identify with that.

My hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Erdington (Jack Dromey) talked about his connection to the struggles that were going on to strengthen the Anti-Apartheid Movement in north London. My hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham South (Lilian Greenwood) said that Mandela achieved what many thought impossible, demonstrating that you have to carry on hoping when there is little hope left. My hon. Friend the Member for Eltham (Clive Efford), my right hon. Friend the Member for Delyn (Mr Hanson), and my hon. Friends the Members for Feltham and Heston (Seema Malhotra), for Wirral South (Alison McGovern), for Clwyd South (Susan Elan Jones), for Edinburgh North and Leith (Mark Lazarowicz), for Oldham East and Saddleworth (Debbie Abrahams), for Brent North (Barry Gardiner), for Vale of Clwyd (Chris Ruane), for Chesterfield (Toby Perkins), for Ogmore (Huw Irranca-Davies), for Blaydon (Mr Anderson), for Llanelli (Nia Griffith) and for Swansea West (Geraint Davies) all brought their own examples, in their profound speeches, of the battle for freedom and helping South Africa in solidarity with the people there.

I remember watching Nelson Mandela when he came to make that great speech to both Houses of Parliament, and my abiding memory is of him walking down the stairs of Westminster Hall hand in hand with one of your predecessors, Mr Speaker, the then Speaker Betty Boothroyd in July 1996. I also remember his address to the Labour party conference in 2000 at which he congratulated us on the first centenary of our party and looked forward to the next. He said:

“Britain was in so many respects the second headquarters of our movement in exile.”

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He went on to say:

“Your solidarity helped to make those years in exile bearable and contributed to them not turning out to be wasted years.”

He congratulated us on our 100 years of history, and he said:

“To have sustained over a century such an organisation is a tribute not only to the Labour party, its leadership and members. It is testimony to the resilience of the spirit that continues to believe that the world can be made a better place for all. It defies and gives the lie to the pervasive cynicism and loss of hope that characterised so much of political life in the latter part of the last century.”

Finally, Nelson Mandela always appealed to the best rather than the basest of political instincts. I believe that is an example to which we should all aspire.

9.50 pm

The Leader of the House of Commons (Mr Andrew Lansley): I am grateful to the shadow Leader of the House who wonderfully reflected the debate and recalled the many moving, thoughtful and evocative speeches that we heard during the course of this remarkable tribute to Nelson Mandela.

May I join the shadow Leader of the House in thanking you, Mr Speaker, for enabling us to have this tribute to Nelson Mandela? I also look forward to Thursday afternoon and the opportunity for civil society and the wider public to come here to the Great Hall at Westminster to share the opportunity not only to commemorate the life of Nelson Mandela and dedicate themselves to his memory, but to celebrate his life. There will be organisations that, for decades, have supported his struggle and the people of South Africa. There will be South Africans in this country who will want to come and show their love and respect for Nelson Mandela, and it is a good and welcome opportunity for them to do it here at their Parliament.

We have heard many memorable speeches. Today has been an unprecedented opportunity for us to express our views, and we have met on the same day as the South African Parliament. Helen Zille, who was referred to by a number of Members, said that Nelson Mandela’s death

“united the world in grief but it has also united us in hope.”

That was evident in many of the speeches that we heard today.

Many speeches were prompted by personal memories. Most memorably, the right hon. Member for Neath (Mr Hain) talked about a lifetime of memories of Nelson Mandela and the struggle against apartheid, from which many of us learned. The hon. Member for Sheffield Central (Paul Blomfield) referred to the character of the struggle over decades against the evil of apartheid. Many Members talked very movingly and importantly about the nature of that struggle, which I know will also be reflected in the ceremony on Thursday.

The shadow Leader of the House referred to the remarkable speech of the right hon. Member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath (Mr Brown). There was mention of shared ambitions and the further ambition that Nelson Mandela showed after he had left office as President of the Republic of South Africa in wanting to achieve great things, not least in the eradication of child poverty across the world.

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The right hon. Member for East Renfrewshire (Mr Murphy) and a number of Members talked about personal memories of living in South Africa. All of them told of a man whose courage, constancy of moral purpose, as the hon. Member for Hackney North and Stoke Newington (Ms Abbott) said, and power of forgiveness, as the Leader of the Opposition said, have been a world-changing feature of our age. As the right hon. Member for Derby South (Margaret Beckett) and the shadow Leader of the House said, it is sometimes said that he somehow transcended politics, but that is wrong as he used political means to achieve political objectives and in doing so was the epitome of a politician. He recognised that it is the nature of politics for there to be a conflict of interest, but the very best politician is somebody who enables those competing interests not to lead to conflict but to be reconciled. His pursuit of forgiveness and reconciliation is an inspiration for us all.

I visited South Africa in 1995 on behalf of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, and even in the space of those few years and the year after that first election it was remarkable how parliamentary democracy and the assumption of parliamentary democracy for the future had been adopted in South Africa. That has persisted and for us, in this Parliament, that is something with which we can feel a strong fellow feeling.

The speeches have of course captured the character of a remarkable man, recalling his deeds, his achievements, his words, his unfailing courtesy, his personal courage, his values and, of course, his often mischievous sense of humour. A number of Members talked of him as a great man and the right hon. Member for Tottenham (Mr Lammy) rightly talked of how he had inspired him, and what a great man he was. The right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Sir Gerald Kaufman) talked about when he was asked by the National Portrait Gallery to nominate great figures of the 20th century, and Nelson Mandela was one of three whom he nominated. The hon. Member for Ogmore (Huw Irranca-Davies) talked about him as a towering figure of the 20th century.

I am reminded that when Nelson Mandela retired as President, Tony Leon, whom I met in South Africa back in 1995, spoke of the fact that one can think of leaders who are great and good but that there is a special category beyond that. He described them as those who are great and good but have

“a special kind of grace”.

He could only think of two people who fitted such a category: Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela.

We are talking about somebody who is close to unique, but we can also think of him as unique. Not only was he clearly a towering figure of the 20th century, but he will also be regarded as a towering figure in the 21st century, not just because of the ambitions he enunciated after he left the presidency but because of his character, the nature of his approach to truth and reconciliation, the power of forgiveness, and his ambition and how he expressed it. As the right hon. Member for Neath and others recalled, at the Rivonia trial he articulated his determination that he had fought against white domination but would also fight against black domination —he was committed, and if necessary would give his life, to upholding justice and freedom. Those things will endure and we have as much need of them in this century as we did in the last.

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In the South African Parliament today, Deputy President Motlanthe called on South Africa and the world to consider how Nelson Mandela’s legacy might be carried forward. In today’s debate, we have heard speeches on exactly that. The right hon. Member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath talked about the eradication of child poverty and other Members spoke about the necessity of promoting justice and freedom in the world, of reducing poverty, discrimination and inequality and of using those principles of reconciliation and forgiveness around the world in areas as far apart as Korea and Syria and in the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Members such as the right hon. Member for Gordon (Sir Malcolm Bruce) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Eddisbury (Mr O'Brien) talked about how Nelson Mandela’s ambitions and approach in South Africa are entirely relevant and needed in the continent of Africa in this century and in the future. In that sense, many of today’s speeches would be regarded across the world as showing how we in this House and this country believe that Nelson Mandela’s legacy might be carried further.

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Mr Speaker, my hon. Friend the Member for Ribble Valley (Mr Evans) suggested that you might bind a copy of the speeches in today’s debate and send it to the South African Parliament. I hope that you will and that when you do, the South African Parliament will recognise that on the same day as they paid tribute to Nelson Mandela, we did so in like fashion. Like them, for us the dream has not ended.

Mr Speaker: Thank you. I will.


Resolved, That this House do now adjourn.—(Amber Rudd.)

10 pm

House adjourned.