British values expressed at the Grantham College student conference.

At Grantham College the recent student conference was held on the theme of British values. It was a great success with around 60 students attending and the speakers ranged from Sameena Alladin & Amy Parish from Citizens Advice Bureau to Philip Moon from Pro Seminar International who also speaks on behalf of the Stronger In campaign.

British values expressed at the Grantham College student conference.

At Grantham College the recent student conference was held on the theme of British values.

Around 60 students attended and the speakers ranged from Sameena Alladin & Amy Parish from Citizens Advice Bureau to Philip Moon from Pro Seminar International who also speaks on behalf of the Stronger In campaign. Our college chaplains facilitated a workshop on mutual respect.

The main aim of the conference was to teach students about the Fundamental British Values which are naturally promoted in College life, to ensure when our students leave they are fully rounded members of society who treat others with respect and tolerance, regardless of background and/or beliefs.

British Values is a subject affected by many layers and subjects ranged from rule of law and democracy to liberty, mutual respect and culture, these are values that transcend national boundaries and Britain. They are fundamental human rights but unfortunately not enjoyed by all.

These values and rights are interlinked and inter dependant.

Without democracy the law can be made by despots and dictators, laws to entrench their power and subjugate the people.

Without the rule of just law there can be no democracy or liberty and freedom of speech as others may choose to imprison you without trial or threaten you and restrict your liberty.

Without mutual respect democracy does not work as we may choose to deny others the vote, not respect each other's vote or your freedom to express your views because you are in some way different from me.

But democracy is not perfect and Winston Churchill once said: "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time."

Nothing is black and white and there are many current questions to consider. Do the poor have equal access to the law? Is it acceptable for governments to read your emails? How much liberty are you prepared to sacrifice for your security? If we imprison those we consider terrorists without trial do we undermine our own values by denying them liberty and access to the law we hold so dear?

These values we often take for granted as we are privileged to live in a country that upholds them as well as any in the world, even though there are certainly blemishes on that record. But these values and rights are fragile; they can easily be lost or stolen, given their interdependence all it takes is for one to be broken for others not to function.

Our Acting Principal; Paul Deane reported that he watched a film last week made by prominent international human rights lawyer and professor Philippe Sands. The documentary was based on Professor Sands’ own research into the plight of his grandfather’s family at the hands of the Nazis. Many in his family were exterminated in the Nazi concentration camps in Poland in WW2. His research brought him into contact with two men whose own fathers had been part of the brutal regime. He interviewed the son of one of the most prominent Nazi officers responsible and the son said that he felt it was important to acknowledge that what his father had done was wrong even though it was no fault of his own.

We must respect each other's rights and liberty and freedom to choose who leads us to maintain the civilised society we cherish. Please remember this world belongs to none of us and to all of us. I think it was that great political thinker Marx (Groucho not Karl) that said “Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.” So let us continue to hold our politicians to account.

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