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House of Commons

Monday 9 December 2013

The House met at half-past Two o’clock


[Mr Speaker in the Chair]

Tributes to Nelson Mandela

Mr Speaker: The House will wish to know how we intend to proceed today. Defence questions will be postponed to next Monday. The present list of questions will be carried over; there will not be another shuffle. The Table Office will announce consequential changes shortly.

This is a special day for special tributes to a special statesman, Nelson Mandela. I hope that as many Members as possible will be able to contribute. Tributes may continue until 10 pm. There will be no end-of-day Adjournment debate.

The House will also wish to know that there will be an event to commemorate and celebrate the life and achievements of Nelson Mandela in Westminster Hall at 2 pm on Thursday 12 December.

I call the Prime Minister.

2.35 pm

The Prime Minister (Mr David Cameron): Nelson Mandela was a towering figure in our lifetime, a pivotal figure in the history of South Africa and the world, and it is right that we meet in this Parliament to pay tribute to his character, his achievements and his legacy.

The Union and South African flags flew at half mast over Downing street for the day after his death, and they will do so again on the day of his funeral. Condolence books have been organised by the South African high commission. This evening, the Deputy Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and I will all fly to South Africa to attend the memorial service in Johannesburg. On Sunday, His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales will represent this country at his funeral in Qunu. Here in this House, everyone’s thoughts are with the family of Nelson Mandela, his friends and the millions in South Africa and around the world who are mourning him today.

When looking back over history, it can be easy to see victories over prejudice and hatred as somehow inevitable. As the years lengthen and events recede, it can seem as though a natural tide of progress continually bears humanity ever upwards—away from brutality and darkness, and towards something better—but it is not so. Progress is not just handed down as a gift; it is won through struggle, the struggle of men and women who believe things can be better and who refuse to accept the world as it is, but dream of what it can be.

Nelson Mandela was the embodiment of that struggle. He did not see himself as a helpless victim of history; he wrote it. We must never forget the evil of apartheid and its effect on everyday life: separate benches, separate buses, separate schools, even separate pews in church; inter-racial relationships criminalised; pass laws and banning orders; and a whole language of segregation that expressed man’s inhumanity to man.

Nelson Mandela’s struggle was made ever more vital by acts of extreme brutality —such as at Sharpeville and Soweto—on the part of the South African authorities. His was a journey that spanned six decades: from his activism in the ’40s and ’50s, through nearly three decades of incarceration, to his negotiations that led to the end of apartheid and his election to the highest office in South Africa. It was, as he said, a long walk to freedom.

As a prisoner in a cell measuring 7 feet by 8 feet, there must have been times when Nelson Mandela felt that his fists were beating against a wall that would not be moved, but he never wavered. As he famously said at his Rivonia trial, he wanted to live for and achieve

“the ideal of a democratic and free society”,

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but it was also an ideal for which, as he said very clearly, he was “prepared to die.” Even after long years of imprisonment, he rejected offers for his freedom until all conditions that would have prevented his struggle for justice were removed. What sustained him throughout it all was a belief in human dignity—that no one is naturally superior over anyone else, that each person has inherent worth. As he said so powerfully when he came to speak in this Parliament:

“In the end, the cries of the infant who dies because of hunger or because a machete has slit open its stomach will penetrate the noises of the modern city and its sealed windows to say, ‘Am I not human, too?’”

Nelson Mandela’s cries for justice pierced the consciences of people around the world.

Let me pay tribute to the Members of this House, including the right hon. Member for Neath (Mr Hain), who considered it part of their life’s work not to rest until the evil of apartheid was ended. Mandela knew that there were millions across our country who said no to apartheid in ways large and small, from mass concerts to quiet shows of solidarity. There can be no doubt that he had a warmth of feeling for this country. He visited just months after his release from prison and a number of times in the following years, including the time when he spoke so memorably in Trafalgar square at that great event to make poverty history.

The character of Nelson Mandela was shown not only in the determination with which he fought, but in the grace with which he won. Nearly three decades in prison could so easily have left him bitter. On his release, he could have meted out vengeance on those who had done him so much wrong. Perhaps the most remarkable chapter of Mandela’s story is how he took the opposite path. In victory, he chose magnanimity. Indeed, with characteristic generosity, he invited his former jailer to his presidential inauguration. He employed as his private secretary a young Afrikaner woman who became his confidant and, in an image that is printed indelibly on our minds, he roused his country behind the Springboks in the most powerful gesture of reconciliation.

Nelson Mandela’s Government pursued a very deliberate policy of forgiveness. F. W. de Klerk and other National party officials were brought into his Government of national unity. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was established to break the spiral of recrimination and violence. Those were astonishingly brave moves. His desperate hope was for an African renaissance, with South Africa at its heart.

In Mandela’s time after office, he showed no less determination in stepping up the fight against AIDS. It has been one of the great honours of my life to go to South Africa and meet Mandela. I remember discussing that issue in his office and hearing his determination to ensure that antiretroviral drugs reached all those in need. Here was a man of 88 who had been imprisoned for decades and missed a lot of the rapid social change that had taken place, but who had the vision to see through the destructive attitudes towards AIDS in South Africa. All those actions were marks of his extraordinary personal leadership.

Today, although challenges remain in South Africa, that country is on a far more hopeful path because of what Nelson Mandela did. Indeed there are signs

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of hope across the whole continent in its growth, in its emerging middle class and in the birth of new democracies.

Around the world, there already exist many monuments to Nelson Mandela. Just a few hundred yards from here, in Parliament square, the champion of democracy is cast in bronze, arm outstretched, mid-speech, as if beseeching those in this House to remember that democracy is a gift, and a gift to be used well. There has been a lot of debate, rightly, about how to secure his legacy. Surely one part must be to rededicate ourselves to the task of eradicating poverty and conflict in Africa, in which our historic commitment to provide 0.7% of our gross national income in aid can ensure that Britain plays her full part.

Of course, the most important monument to Mandela must be the lessons he has taught us: that there is dignity and worth in every human being; that an ounce of humility is worth more than a ton of might; that lasting, long-term change needs patience, even the patience of a life-time, but that change can come with determination and sacrifice.

It is with sadness that we meet here today to remember Nelson Mandela, but it is with gladness that we can say this: it was a long walk to freedom, but the walk is over and freedom was won. For that, Nelson Mandela has the deepest respect of this House and his enduring place in history.

2.43 pm

Edward Miliband (Doncaster North) (Lab): Today, we remember the incomparable life of Nelson Mandela.

This House traditionally gathers to pay tribute to those who have led our country; it is unusual for us to meet to honour the leader of another. Why is it so essential that we commemorate the life of President Mandela in this way? It is for simple reasons: he is an enduring and unique symbol of courage, hope and the fight against injustice; he teaches us the power of forgiveness, having showed no bitterness towards his captors, just the love of a country that could be so much better if all its people could be free; and he demonstrates, even to the most sceptical, the power of people and politics to change our world. That is why we gather here today. On behalf of my party, I send the deepest condolences to his widow, Graça Machel, the Mandela family and all the people of South Africa. We mourn with them.

Today is an opportunity to remember the extraordinary life and the extraordinary story of Nelson Mandela. He led a movement, the African National Congress, that liberated a country. He endured the suffering and sacrifice of 27 years in prison—a son unable to attend his mother’s funeral, a father unable to attend his son’s. But in the face of such oppression, his spirit never bent or broke. Offered the chance of release in 1985 after more than 20 years in jail on the condition that he give up the armed struggle, he refused.

“I cannot sell my birthright, nor am I prepared to sell the birthright of my people to be free”,

he said.

We honour him too because of the remarkable person the world found him to be after he walked out of prison in 1990 in those scenes that we all remember. As his old comrade Archbishop Desmond Tutu said:

“Suffering can embitter its victims, but equally it can ennoble the sufferer.”

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There can be nothing more noble than determining not to seek revenge on your oppressors but to seek reconciliation with them. He truly was, as Archbishop Tutu said, an “icon of magnanimity”. That is why he not only became the leader of a struggle but truly can be described as the father of a nation, as we have seen in the tributes and emotion that he has inspired since his death in the black and white communities of South Africa.

We honour him too because, for him, the struggle against injustice was a story that never ended. Having been an activist who became a President, he was a President who became an activist once again, campaigning on causes from debt relief to HIV/AIDS to the war in Iraq.

We honour somebody, too, who wore his extraordinary heroism with the utmost humility. A year after he gave up the presidency, he came to the Labour party conference and described himself as

“an unemployed pensioner with a criminal record.”

He famously said to Desmond Tutu, who had teased him for his taste in gaudy shirts:

“It's pretty thick coming from a man who wears a dress in public.”

His empathy led him to seek out not the most famous person in the room but the least, and his warmth made every person he met walk taller.

So we honour a man who showed the true meaning of struggle, courage, generosity and humanity. But we gather here in our Parliament, in Britain, also to recognise that the history of our country was bound up with his struggle, in a spirit of truth and reconciliation. South Africa was, after all, once a British colony, but later Britain would become, in Nelson Mandela’s own words,

“the second headquarters of our movement in exile.”

The Prime Minister and I, and thousands of others, went to sign the condolence book at South Africa house on Friday. It is easy to forget now that South Africa house was not always such a welcoming place for the opponents of apartheid.

So we should also remember today the hundreds of thousands of people who were the Anti-Apartheid Movement in Britain: the people who stood month after month, year after year, on the steps of that embassy when the cause seemed utterly futile; the Churches, trade unions and campaigners who marched and supported the struggle financially, culturally and in so many other ways; the people who refused to buy South African produce and supported the call for sanctions—people whose names we do not know, from all over Britain, who were part of that struggle, as well as those who will be etched in history, including the leaders of the movement who found sanctuary in Britain, such as Ruth First, Joe Slovo and others. If the House will allow me, I will add that there were also those in my own party who played such an important role, such as Bob Hughes, now in the House of Lords, my right hon. Friend the Member for Neath (Mr Hain) and so many more.

It may seem odd to a younger generation that apartheid survived as long as it did, given that it now seems to have been universally reviled all the world over. But of course the truth, and the history, is very different. The cause was highly unfashionable, often considered dangerous by those in authority and opposed by those in government. The Prime Minister was right a few years ago to acknowledge the history. It is in the spirit of what

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Nelson Mandela taught us to acknowledge the truth about the past and, without rancour, to welcome the change that has come to pass, but also to honour his legacy by acknowledging that in every country, including our own, the battle against racial injustice still needs to be won. So we come here to honour the man, to acknowledge our history, and for one final purpose—to recognise and uphold the universal values for which Nelson Mandela stood: the dignity of every person, whatever his colour or creed, the value of tolerance and respect for all, and justice for all people wherever they may live and whatever oppression they may face.

Nelson Mandela himself said “I am not a saint. I am a sinner who keeps on trying.” His extraordinary life calls on us all to keep on trying—for nobler ideals, for higher purposes, and for a bigger, not a smaller politics. Inspired by his example and the movement that he led, we mourn his loss, we give thanks for his life, and we honour his legacy.

2.50 pm

The Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Nick Clegg): On behalf of the Liberal Democrats, let me add my voice to the many tributes to Nelson Mandela, the father of modern South Africa. Our thoughts and condolences are with his loved ones, the people of South Africa, and everyone around the world who is grieving his loss.

Nelson Mandela’s message transcended the boundaries of nations, people, colours and creeds, and his character transcended boundaries too. He was a politician, but he appeared to be free of all the pettiness of politics. He was a warm human being with a mischievous wit, yet seemed to rise above the normal human frailties of anger and hurt. He was a man who was well aware of his place in history, but he did not want to be placed on a pedestal, and was humble at all times. Given qualities like that, it is little wonder that millions of people who did not meet him in person none the less feel that they have lost a hero and a friend.

I never had the privilege of meeting Nelson Mandela myself, but, like so many other people, I almost feel as if I had. He clearly made a huge impact on all those whom he did meet. I remember Paddy Ashdown telling me, with a sigh, that his wife Jane would regularly say that Mandela was the funniest and most charming man she had ever met. As a student, I was one of the thousands of people who flooded into Wembley stadium for the “Free Nelson Mandela” concert to mark his 70th birthday. I remember wondering, as I stood there, how on earth this one man could live up to everyone’s expectations if and when he was finally released—but, as a free man, Nelson Mandela not only met those expectations; he surpassed them.

The challenge for South Africa seemed almost impossible at the time. How could people who had spent so long divided in conflict, and had either perpetrated or suffered so much abuse, find it within themselves to forgive, to move on, and to build something together? Well, Mandela could and did, and the truly remarkable example of forgiveness that he set made it possible for his country to be reborn as the “rainbow nation”.

Given the enormousness of Mandela’s achievements, we are all struggling to work out the best way in which to honour his legacy. I like to think that one of the things that he would want us to do in the House today is pay tribute to, and support, the individuals and

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organisations around the world that fight for human rights and do not have a global name. Right now, all over the world, millions of men, women and children are still struggling to overcome poverty, violence and discrimination. They do not have the fame or the standing of Nelson Mandela, but I am sure he would tell us that what they achieve and ensure in their pursuit of a more open, equal and just society shapes all our lives.

Mary Akrami, who works to protect and empower the women of Afghanistan, Sima Samar, the head of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, and the Committee of Relatives of the Detained and Disappeared in Honduras, which works in the shadow of threats and intimidation, are just three examples of individuals and organisations elsewhere in the world that deserve our loyalty and support just as much as the British campaigners in the Anti-Apartheid Movement in London who showed unfailing loyalty to and support for Nelson Mandela during his bleakest days. I, too, pay tribute to the right hon. Member for Neath (Mr Hain) and all his fellow campaigners for what they did at that time. All of this will make the way we mark tomorrow’s international Human Rights Day all the more significant, and Britain can pay no greater tribute to Nelson Mandela than by standing up around the world for the values of human rights and equality for which he fought.

When Nelson Mandela took his first steps to freedom, he made no call for vengeance, only forgiveness. He understood that dismantling apartheid’s legacy was about more than just removing the most explicit signs of discrimination and segregation, and he recognised too that to build a brighter future South Africa must confront the darkness of its past. In doing so, Nelson Mandela laid down a blueprint that has made it possible for other divided communities, such as in Northern Ireland, to reject violence, overcome their differences and make a fresh beginning. That is why I hope, in communities where people are still struggling to replace violence and conflict with peace and stability, that the principles of forgiveness and reconciliation that Mandela embodied are followed by others too. Recently, for example, the House debated the alleged human rights abuses in Sri Lanka. Surely there could be no better way for that country to heal its wounds and bring peace and unity to all its people than to follow Mandela’s example and emulate South Africa’s truth and reconciliation process.

As I see it, that is Nelson Mandela’s lasting legacy to all of us—to champion the defenders of human rights today and to know that wherever there is conflict and injustice, with hope and courage peace is always possible. As the Prime Minister reminded us earlier, at his 1964 trial Mandela told the world that equality in South Africa was an ideal for which he was prepared to die. No one who has listened to those words can fail to be moved to hear a man so explicitly and courageously put his life on the line for freedom. As others have remarked, Mandela famously liked to repeat the great saying that

“the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”

So on this year’s Human Rights Day and beyond, let us honour his memory by ensuring that the hope he gave lives on for all of those whose liberties and rights are still denied.

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2.57 pm

Mr Gordon Brown (Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath) (Lab): Fifty-one years ago, directly across from this House in Parliament square, standing in front of the statues of Gladstone, Disraeli, Peel, Palmerston, Lincoln and General Smuts, and with his friend Oliver Tambo, Nelson Mandela asked the question when, if ever, a black man would be represented there. That day in June 1962 was an important one—his first visit to London and possibly his last. He was on the edge of being arrested, imprisoned, put on trial twice—once for his life—and then spending 27 years incarcerated.

It was, therefore, a great privilege, on behalf of the people of Britain, to unveil in 2007 a statue of the first black man to be represented on that square—Nelson Mandela himself, in the presence of Nelson Mandela and his wife. That statue of Nelson Mandela stands there now and forever. Yes, his hands are outstretched, as the Prime Minister said, but his finger points upwards—as it always did—to the heights. He was the man most responsible for the destruction of what people thought was indestructible—the apartheid system—and the man who taught us that no injustice can last for ever.

Nelson Mandela was the greatest man of his generation, yes, but across the generations he was one of the most courageous people you could ever hope to meet. Winston Churchill said that courage was the greatest human virtue of all, because everything else depended on it. Nelson Mandela had eloquence, determination, commitment, passion, wit and charm, but it was his courage that brought all those things to life. We sometimes think of courage as daring, bravado, risk-taking and recklessness, and Nelson Mandela had all those in admirable quantities, but he was the first to say that true courage depends not just on strength of willpower, but on strength of belief. What drove Mandela forward, and what made him the great architect of a free South Africa—the first great achievement of Nelson Mandela—was the burning belief that everyone, every man and woman, was equal: everyone born to be free, everyone created not with a destiny to be in poverty, but created to have dignity in life.

The intensity with which Nelson Mandela believed this and his determination that he would never be paralysed by fear is something that is recorded for ever in a battered book that was brought into—smuggled into—the prison on Robben island, “The Works of William Shakespeare”. Alongside his signature, “N Mandela”, he has marked the words from “Julius Caesar”:

“Cowards die many times before their deaths;

The valiant never taste of death but once…

It seems to me most strange that men should fear;

Seeing that death, a necessary end,

Will come when it will come.”

Remarkably, that amazing courage to stand up to evil stood with the lack of bitterness that has been described already today, forgiving his warders, his prosecutors, the would-be executioners.

The most amazing story he told me was that on the night before they left prison he called all the ANC prisoners together, saying, yes, they would be justified in acts of revenge, retaliation and retribution, but that there could never then be a strong, successful multiracial society, and that was his second great achievement: to achieve change through reconciliation.

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But there was also a third achievement: in refusing to rest or relax when he gave up the presidency, he had a third great, historic, far less acknowledged, achievement to his name. He wrote that in the first part of his life he had climbed one great mountain, to end apartheid, but now in his later life he wanted to climb another great mountain: to rid the world of poverty, and especially the outrage of child poverty.

I need speak only of what I saw in the times that I worked with him: how quietly and without fanfare he went about his work. In 2005 I flew to South Africa to meet Nelson Mandela to persuade him to come to London so that he could then persuade the Finance Ministers of the need for debt relief to relieve poverty, and this he did. Then in 2006, he and his wife Graça Machel—a leader in her own right, who shared his ideals and will now carry his legacy into the future—launched the British programme for education for every child so that we could be the first generation in history where every child went to school. He warned us when we had that press conference in Mozambique that to get every child to school we would have to end child labour, child marriage and child trafficking, and that we would have to end the discrimination against girls, a campaign that he and his wife, Graça Machel, have been involved in ever since. Typically, Nelson Mandela said at the beginning of the conference that the cause was so urgent that he had now come out of retirement so that he could prosecute the cause, and at the end of the press conference he said that it was now up to the younger generation and he was returning to his retirement.

I visited him in South Africa in the week that his son died of AIDS. While in mourning and in grief and shocked by the events, he insisted on coming out to the waiting press with me. He said that AIDS was not to be treated as a moral judgment and censoriously; it was to be treated exactly like the tuberculosis he had suffered, as a disease in need of cure. His greatness as vast as the continent he loved, showing there that his greatness was a greatness of the human soul.

My good fortune was to meet Nelson Mandela not so long after he left prison, and I remember his first greeting: “Ah,” he said, “a representative of the British empire,” and then he flashed that same smile that could light up a room and then the world. Then 10 years ago, at the birth of my son John, I picked up the telephone and there was Nelson Mandela on the phone: he, too, had lost a child in infancy, and from that time on, on his birthday, the day before my second son’s, and on Graça’s birthday, the day of John’s, we exchanged telephone calls on the days of these birthdays and presents, letters and cards, the last only this October.

Raising money for children’s causes was the purpose of Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday party in London, when President Clinton and I were proud to pay tribute to him, before an auction where he gave the original copy of his famous “Letter to a Child”. First, Oprah Winfrey bid for it, then Elton John. Both of them surpassed a £1 million. Oprah Winfrey then went beyond that million. She was then told that she would have to pay in pounds and not dollars. Nelson Mandela and I joked that it was time for another £1 million and that he should write another letter and sell it to Elton John.

Nelson Mandela’s last public event was in Hyde park, in London. Again, it was to raise funds for children. Sitting next to him, my task—something I was uniquely incapable of doing—was to explain who the celebrity

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acts were, what they were up to and what they were about. He was particularly intrigued by Amy Winehouse, who is sadly no longer with us. I remember him going down to meet her and her joking with him that her husband and Mandela had a great deal in common—both of them had spent a huge amount of time in prison. At that point, he wanted a drink, but Graça, his wife, had banned drink from the occasion, at least for him because of his fragile health. I can never forget this occasion: Mandela, with all these great achievements behind him, at the celebration party for his 90th birthday and surely entitled to a celebratory drink, hiding from his wife’s view the glass of champagne that I had produced for him.

Very few people know that Nelson Mandela loved not only to tell stories, but to gossip, about everybody, from the Spice Girls and celebrities in sport to political leaders—I will refrain from mentioning what he said about them, at least today. But he admired and respected Her Majesty the Queen, and he told me that he wanted the Queen to invite an African rain princess from his tribe to a reception at Buckingham palace. He had got nowhere with the diplomatic channels, so he decided to telephone her personally. The story goes of the conversation, in words that only Mandela could use—“Hello Elizabeth, how’s the Duke?” Although the official minute says that the Queen was non-committal, Mandela got his way.

Hung by Mandela on the bare walls of that bleak prison cell was a facsimile of the British painting by a famous artist, Frederic Watts. The haunting image he had in this prison cell was of a blinded girl sitting on top of a globe of the world. The painting, entitled “Hope”, is about the boldness of a girl to believe that, even when blinded and even with a broken harp and only one string, she could still play music. Her and Mandela’s belief was that even in the most difficult and bleak of times, even when things seem hopeless, there could still be hope. I believe that that explains why over these past few days we have both mourned the death of Mandela and celebrated his life with equal intensity. Who else could unite the whole world of sport unanimously, in every continent of the world, with applause? We are mourning because as long as Mandela was alive we knew that even in the worst of disasters, amidst the most terrible of tragedies and conflict, amidst the evil that existed in the world, there was someone there, standing between us and the elements, who represented goodness and nobility. And we are celebrating today because the lessons that we have learned from him will live on. He teaches us that indeed no injustice can last for ever. He teaches us that whenever good people of courage come together, there is infinite hope.

3.8 pm

Sir Malcolm Rifkind (Kensington) (Con): On the day of Mandela’s release in 1990, I was waiting with many millions of people for him to emerge from prison. I remember a particular thought at that time: although he was a global figure—the whole world knew of Nelson Mandela—no one had the faintest idea what he looked like. No photograph of him had appeared since he went into prison 27 years earlier, as a relatively young man of 46—now he was emerging as a relatively old man of 73. I met him for the first time when he came to 10 Downing street when John Major was Prime Minister, and I recall that as he entered, the whole staff of No. 10—70 or 80 people—spontaneously drew themselves up into

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two lines to applaud him as he walked to the Cabinet room. John Major said that that was the first time that had ever happened since he had become Prime Minister.

Nelson Mandela was not a saint, as we have heard. He was a politician to his fingertips. He actually believed in the armed struggle in the earlier part of his career and perhaps to some degree for the rest of his career, but, unlike many in the African National Congress, he eventually decided that ways of peace were more likely to deliver than the armed struggle. I recall going to South Africa four years after 1990 when he was President and having dinner with the then deputy Defence Minister of South Africa, Ronnie Kasrils. Kasrils was a white South African communist and a founding member of Umkhonto we Sizwe. He had been educated at the London School of Economics and was a strong believer in the armed struggle. I said to him, “You are a member of the South African Communist party and it was often argued at the time by the South African Government that you and your colleagues were trained in the Soviet Union. Was that true?” He said, “Yes, it was true. We were trained in Odessa, in Ukraine.” Then I asked him why he believed in the armed struggle, particularly as Nelson Mandela eventually decided on a political solution. He said, “Well we believed that the white Afrikaners, the apartheid Government, would never give up power peacefully. It would only be the armed struggle that would get them out of power.” I said to him, “Is that what they taught you in the Soviet Union?” I remember he groaned and said, “No, no, that is what they taught me at the LSE.”

I lived and worked in southern Africa, mainly in southern Rhodesia, for two years in the 1960s. I got to know South Africa well, and I must confess that, at that time, I too assumed that there would be no peaceful resolution of the problems of apartheid and that, whether one liked it or not, it would only be by revolution or by armed struggle that they would change the political system. I was wrong, and I was wrong because there was not one hero in South Africa but two, and it is worth remembering this. It was not just Nelson Mandela, who undoubtedly deserves the vast bulk of the credit, but the South African President F.W. de Klerk. Without both of them, there would not have been a peaceful resolution. In some ways, it was more difficult for de Klerk than for Mandela. [Hon. Members: “Oh!”] Let me explain what I mean; it is a serious point. Mandela was receiving power at a stage when most of the struggle had already been won, and de Klerk was having to persuade his own people to give power up before they had been defeated. The world had not seen such a situation before. To his credit, de Klerk realised that he needed the legitimacy of the electorate of South Africa, who were, quite wrongly but in practice, all white at that time. He called the referendum and, by the sheer force of his leadership, persuaded more than 60% of white South Africans to accept that the days of apartheid were over. Even then, it required Mandela—and it is to his credit—to go through long months of negotiation, not always with the support of his colleagues in the ANC, in order to deliver a transfer of power that offered the prospect of peace for all the people of South Africa. Mandela once notably said, “This is not about moving from white domination to black domination.

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There must be no domination of either community.” He was an extraordinary man in not only believing that but practising it with every fibre of his being.

As we look today at the lessons of Mandela’s extraordinary life and incredible achievements, at his contribution not just to South Africa, which goes without saying, but to the wider world and at why he has become such an iconic figure, two factors stand out. First, he is perhaps the best example that we have had in the past 100 years of how political leaders, by force of personality, transform themselves from politicians into statesman, and can by their sheer personal effort change the world and make what was impossible possible and then deliver it. He is not the only one who has done so. We should not think of him as unique. Gorbachev, by the force of his personality, helped to end the cold war and deliver the liberation of eastern Europe without a shot being fired, and few would have believed that possible. Lech Walesa, an obscure trade unionist at first, built up the Solidarnosc organisation and toppled the once mighty Polish Communist party. Anwar Sadat, a controversial figure in many ways, was yet another example. The extraordinary decision that he took to fly from Egypt to Jerusalem and address the Israeli Knesset as Egyptian President led to peace between Israel and Egypt. In our own day, we have Aung San Suu Kyi, and we all know what she has done and how it is transforming Burma. Being a political, charismatic figure is necessary but it is not sufficient. It must be combined with political skills, and of course Mandela was a politician to his fingertips as well as being a man with all those other talents.

The second lesson is that although of course political leadership is needed, we should also recognise, as Mandela did, the strength of diplomacy as a way of getting political change. Even after Mandela had been released, it took months and months of negotiation that could have collapsed at any stage into internal civil war. In a year when we have seen how diplomacy, which is not always fashionable, has produced agreement on Syrian chemical weapons and an interim agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme, it is worth taking comfort from that and seeing how Mandela’s example can deliver in an extraordinary way.

I conclude by simply saying that when we pay tribute to Nelson Mandela, as we rightly do, we should pay tribute to him for what he stood for and we should acknowledge what he achieved in South Africa but we should also recognise what he taught the world about the resolution of what seemed like intractable political problems through patience, personality, courage and diplomacy. Military solutions and armed struggle are sometimes unavoidable, but often they are avoidable and he demonstrated that better than anyone in our time.

3.16 pm

Mr Peter Hain (Neath) (Lab): I thank the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition for their perhaps over-generous remarks about my role. Let me simply underline that there were many tens of thousands of activists in the Anti-Apartheid Movement who deserve to be acknowledged as well.

Thank you, Mr Speaker, for your personal leadership in ensuring that this tribute debate is such a special event, as you said, for such a special person. I note that

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you are wearing the South African tie on this occasion. I specifically thank you—this is very important—for proposing, along with the Lord Speaker, Thursday afternoon’s Westminster Hall event for civil society including, importantly, veteran activists of the Anti-Apartheid Movement who worked so tirelessly over many tough and bitter decades both for Nelson Mandela’s release and for the sanctions against apartheid that he wanted and that ultimately triggered his freedom.

I have never really been into heroes but Nelson Mandela was mine from when I was a young boy in Pretoria and unique among my school friends and relatives in having parents who welcomed everybody to their house regardless of colour—activists in the anti-apartheid struggle. I remember that one fellow activist, Elliot Mngadi, remarked, “This is the first time I’ve ever come through the front door of a white man’s house.” Blacks acting as servants or gardeners might be allowed in the back door occasionally.

My mother, Adelaine, was often alone in the whites-only section of the public gallery at Nelson Mandela’s 1962 trial in Pretoria and when he entered the dock, he would always acknowledge her with a clenched fist, which she would return. His beautiful wife Winnie attended the trial each day, often magnificent in tribal dress. Once, when my tiny younger sisters went with my mother during a school holiday, Winnie bent down and kissed the two little blonde girls to the evident horror of the onlooking white policemen. A black woman kissing two little white children disgusted them.

Forty years later, I was escorting Nelson Mandela to speak at the Labour party annual conference in Brighton, but before that he had an appointment with the Prime Minister that had been very carefully scheduled. We were going down in the lift in the hotel and he said, “How’s the family?” I mentioned that my mother had broken her leg and was in hospital. “Ah,” he said, “I must phone her.” The Prime Minister was kept waiting while Nelson Mandela chatted to porters and cleaners and waitresses and waiters, all lined up as the minutes ticked by. I desperately tried directory inquiries to get her phone number, eventually got the ward and was put through. I said to her, “There’s a very special person who would like to speak to you,” and I handed the phone to him. He said, “This is Mandela from South Africa. Do you know who I am?”

Having been sentenced to five years on Robben Island after the Pretoria trial that my mother attended, Mandela was then brought back more than a year later, as has been mentioned, to be Accused No. 1 in the Rivonia trial, when, facing the death penalty and against the strong advice of his lawyer, he famously said:

“During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

I remember reading those powerful words aged 14, trying to take in their full significance, and aware they were a great inspiration to my parents and all those involved in the anti-apartheid struggle, as Nelson Mandela faced the death penalty. In fact, after worldwide pleas for clemency, he was sentenced to life imprisonment, and in July 1964, Mandela returned to Robben Island, not to be seen or heard in public again for nearly 26 years.

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Two years later, in 1966, after my parents had been jailed, declared banned persons and deprived of earning a living, our family sailed past Robben Island and into exile here in Britain, and we will always be grateful for the welcome that we were given in this country. I remember looking out over the Cape rollers and imagining how Mandela and his comrades were surviving in that cold bleak cell. As an African, he was permitted 5 oz of meat daily, whereas coloureds were allowed 6 oz; he was permitted ½ oz of fat, and coloureds 1 oz: the evil precision of apartheid penetrated every nook and cranny of life, banning inter-racial sex as well as segregating park benches, sport, jobs, schools, hospitals, and much, much more. The apartheid state had hoped that, out of sight on the former leper colony of Robben Island, with its freezing cold waters that had devoured all escapees, Mandela would be out of mind, but the longer he was imprisoned, the bigger a global leader he became.

In July 1988, his 70th birthday became a global celebration, with a pulsating. “Free Mandela” anti-apartheid rock concert attended by 100,000 people at Wembley stadium and watched on live television by 600 million worldwide, despite—I say for the record, not out of any recrimination—some Conservative Members pressing the BBC to pull the plug on its coverage. Then, almost miraculously, something occurred that we had dreamed of, but deep down doubted would ever, ever happen—on that historic day in February 1990 Mandela walked out of prison to freedom, providing an image for ever imprinted on me and on millions, perhaps even billions, across the world. I say “almost miraculously” because history gets compressed and rewritten over time, and we take change for granted.

The reality was very different. Nelson Mandela’s struggle for freedom, and that of his African National Congress, was long and bitter, taking nearly 100 years from the days under British colonial rule when the roots of apartheid were established. Under Britain in 1900, 50 years before apartheid was formally institutionalised in South Africa, most of its features were already in place in the bustling gold-rush city of Johannesburg. By then, Africans were prevented from walking on the pavements—they had to walk on the streets—they had to carry “passes” to work in the city, they could not use buses and trains designated for whites, they were dreadfully exploited in the mines, and they had no political rights.

We all say in Britain that we were against apartheid, and doubtless we were, but some did things about it —others did not. The anti-apartheid struggle was for most of its life engaged in a big fight, here in Britain too. The executive secretaries of the Anti-Apartheid Movement—first, Ethel de Keyser, then Mike Terry—were indefatigable. Its chairman, Lord Bob Hughes, and treasurer, Richard Caborn—former Members of Parliament —were real stalwarts, along with Neil Kinnock and Glenys as well. Protests to stop whites-only Springbok tours provoked fierce anger. I remember them well: “Hain the pain”, as I recall. Some people might still feel that. Yet, as Nelson Mandela confirmed to me, the Springboks’ sporting isolation was a key factor in making whites realise that they had to change, so that today that wonderful black rugby star Bryan Habana can be a Springbok, whereas his predecessors under apartheid at the time that we were demonstrating never could.

Demands for trade and economic sanctions were also resisted, yet their partial implementation, regrettably not by London, but by Washington, eventually helped

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to propel the white business community in the late 1980s to demand change from the very same apartheid Government from whom they had so long benefited.

Mr Speaker, forgive me if, for a brief moment, I strike what I hope will not be seen as too discordant a note on this occasion, which sees the House at its very best, coming together to salute the great man. Were it not for interventions in the media in recent days, I would have let pass correcting the historical record. I give credit especially to you, Mr Speaker, for volunteering most graciously that you were on the wrong side of the anti- apartheid struggle as a young Conservative. I give credit to the Prime Minister for apologising for his party’s record of what I have to describe as craven indulgence towards apartheid’s rulers. And if Nelson Mandela can forgive his oppressors without forgetting their crimes, who am I not to do the same for our opponents in the long decades of the anti-apartheid struggle?

But it really does stick in the craw when Lord Tebbit, Charles Moore and others similar tried over recent days to claim that their complicity with apartheid—that is what I think it was—somehow brought about its end. To my utter incredulity, Lord Tebbit even told BBC World in a debate with me that they had brought about Mandela’s freedom. I know for a fact that Nelson Mandela did not think so. At every possible opportunity he went out of his way to thank anti-apartheid activists across the world for freeing him and his people.

It is therefore especially welcome that Nelson Mandela always retained an almost touching faith in British parliamentary democracy. Even though—I disagree with the interpretation by the right hon. and learned Member for Kensington (Sir Malcolm Rifkind)—over most of his life he was a believer in non-violent legal peaceful change. by force of circumstance—the suppression of his African National Congress’s non-violent campaign for over 60 years—he had to become a freedom fighter and to lead an underground campaign of guerrilla activity similar to the French resistance against the Nazis. Even when the majority in this Parliament, and the Government of the day, were not on his side, he still cherished our parliamentary democracy. I mention this because Mandela’s old foes became his new friends, his former adversaries his admirers. That was part, as others have said, of his greatness.

But that was Mandela the political leader. There was, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath (Mr Brown) remarked in his marvellous speech, another equally engaging side to his greatness. He had an infectious capacity for mischief. In London a few weeks after our marriage in 2003, I introduced my wife Elizabeth to him. “Is this your girlfriend?” he asked. When I replied: “No, she’s my wife”, he chuckled, “So she caught you then?” When Elizabeth, who can be somewhat feisty at times, exclaimed indignantly that she had taken a lot of persuading, he laughed, “That’s what they all say, Peter, but they trap you in the end!” By then she realised that he was teasing her and we all ended up laughing together. He had apologised earlier for not coming to our wedding, instead sending a message, which contained these impish words to us newly-weds: “But perhaps I will be able to come next time!”

It was not just his towering moral stature, his courage and capacity to inspire, that endeared Nelson Mandela to so many. Despite being one of the world’s most

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prominent statesmen—perhaps the most revered—he retained his extraordinary humanity. When he was with you, you had all his attention. When he greeted you, his eyes never wandered, even though you were surrounded by far more important people. Whether you were a mere child, a hotel porter, a cleaner, a waiter or a junior staff member, he was interested in you. And he never forgot a friend.

On the same occasion when Elizabeth met him in 2003, my parents were also present, enjoying a reunion. The conversation somehow turned to my ministerial driver, whom Mandela promptly summoned. “I was once a driver, too,” he told him as they shook hands, referring to the time in 1961-62 when he was on the run and went underground, dubbed the “Black Pimpernel”, often moving about the country dressed as a chauffeur, in order to invite no attention, with cap and uniform and his white “master” in the back, as was stereotypical in those days and so a good form of disguise.

An ordinariness combined with extraordinariness was not Mandela’s sole uniqueness. His capacity for forgiveness is what made him the absolutely critical figure, first during secret negotiations in the late 1980s from prison with the Afrikaner nationalist Government and then after his release, both in the transition and in healing a bitterly divided nation.

That brings me to his status. Gandhi, Kennedy and Churchill are all iconic figures, the last for his inspirational wartime leadership and the first two more for having been assassinated. Yet today ask almost anybody anywhere which global statesman they admire most, and “Nelson Mandela” will as likely as not be the answer. Other world figures are usually famous within their own professional disciplines, sections of society, interest groups or age groups. Many attract hostility, cynicism or plain indifference. Nelson Mandela’s unique achievement was to command fame, admiration and affection from virtually everyone, everywhere in the world.

So if, as I believe, he is more iconic than anybody else, why? His life story of sacrifice, courage, endurance and suffering in the great and noble cause of liberty, democracy and justice places him among a very select few: the Tolpuddle martyrs, Chartists, suffragettes, Gandhi himself, anti-colonial African leaders, Che Guevara, Lech Walesa, Solzhenitsyn and Aung San Suu Kyi, to name just some. But Mandela towers above them all in the popular imagination, perhaps in part because he was the first such figure to be projected to the world’s peoples through the powerful modern media of global television and the internet. He was quite simply far better known than any comparable figure.

Equally, however—this is the lesson I draw—he survived, and indeed prospered, even under the fierce media spotlight of 24-hour news, over-hype and spin. Uniquely, he remained untarnished and undiminished by that modern media beast’s unrivalled capacity for building up then knocking down, leaving him serenely above all its insatiable prurience and obsession for triviality and instant novelty. Where most political careers end in failure or opprobrium, Nelson Mandela’s continued to soar long after he stepped down as President.

Mandela’s greatness, his stature, derived not just from an extraordinary biography that dwarfs the rest of humankind; it came from the warm glow of humanity that he radiated, his common touch, humbleness, self-deprecation, humour and dignity. Prison could have

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embittered, adulation could have gone to his head and egotism could have triumphed. The clutching of the crowd and the intrusive pressures of the modern political age could have seen him retreat behind the barriers that most leaders and celebrities today erect around themselves, not necessarily through any fault of their own, but in part to retain some personal space, but the consequence of which all too often becomes either aloofness or insincerity and its companion, cynicism. But none of that happened to him. Throughout everything, Nelson Mandela remained his own man, neither seduced by the trappings of office, nor deluded by the adulation of admirers, always friendly and approachable. That is why, for me, he was the icon of icons, and perhaps always will be.

President Bill Clinton, who has such a wonderful way with words, said:

“Every time Nelson Mandela walks into a room, we all feel a little bigger, we all want to stand up, we all want to cheer, because we’d like to be him on our best day”.

Sadly, Nelson Mandela will not be walking into our rooms ever again, but we can all still strive to be like him on our best days. For, as he said in one of his many memorable proverbs:

“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others.”

3.34 pm

Alistair Burt (North East Bedfordshire) (Con): It is a real privilege to follow the right hon. Member for Neath (Mr Hain), who speaks with an authenticity that few others could have in these circumstances. It must be the case that the vindication of history sits comfortably on his shoulders and on those of all in the Anti-Apartheid Movement. He is entitled to his day today, and he has spoken very well of the things that matter so much to him and to so many of us.

I remember as a small boy writing to Basil D’Oliveira when he was excluded from the test team, and I remember cheering when a test series was cancelled. My parents were convinced I had become a communist. They are now, like one or two others of my colleagues, merely uncertain.

In 2000, Nelson Mandela visited Bedford to pay tribute to Archbishop Trevor Huddleston in the town of Archbishop Huddleston’s birth—Archbishop Huddleston, who gave so much to the Anti-Apartheid Movement. It is said that a photograph taken that day was used as the model for the statue in Parliament square. Mr Mandela’s host on that day was the mayor of Bedford, Councillor Carole Ellis. Sadly, Councillor Ellis is seriously ill at present, but I know that she is so proud of her own and of Bedford’s part in Mr Mandela’s story.

Between 1986 and 1990, the right hon. Member for Bermondsey and Old Southwark (Simon Hughes), I and Peter Pike, the former Member for Burnley, made three visits to South Africa at the invitation of the followers of Christ working for a peaceful resolution of the situation there. On our return from our first visit, on 17 June, we made joint speeches in a debate here in the House of Commons, referring to each other as our hon. Friends—a point duly noted by Hansard. We had gone together—safety in numbers—at a time when the ANC was still banned, the political situation was deteriorating, violence was abroad, and the isolation of South Africa was impacting on the flow of anything but very polarised

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information. We were able to report back to our respective party leaders on what we found. I had half an hour with an anxious, worried and very uncertain Margaret Thatcher. We reported back on the tragic success of apartheid in separating one person from another, on the urgency of the need for change to avoid a looming catastrophe, and on how the United Kingdom’s public position also needed to change. But we also, apparently rather unusually, reported some hope. I said in the House:

“There is a large group of people in South Africa whom many have ignored. They are those of all races who are working patiently for simple fellowship and reconciliation in pure human terms by meeting each other and sharing their lives and experiences. It was largely with those people that we spent our time, and through their friends across the political spectrum that we had contact with their politics.

Some of those with whom we stayed were white opponents of apartheid and had been so for decades, but all were people who realised that the abolition of the legislative structure of apartheid is almost secondary to the struggle to change hearts and minds. They should not be ignored, for if any group epitomises hope in South Africa, it is that group.”—[Official Report, 17 June 1986; Vol. 99, c. 960.]

We met on our visits, even in 1986, South African Government figures who worried about the impact of the release of Nelson Mandela but who knew that his death in prison would be a tragedy beyond comprehension. Like many others, we knew that only a miracle could save South Africa from violent confrontation, but unlike others, perhaps, we saw some of the groundwork being patiently prepared. South Africa was a land in which Jesus Christ was the person around whom so many could meet together, especially if they were those who were allowed to meet in no other circumstances. That task became easier after the Dutch Reformed Church publicly recanted its misplaced biblical support for apartheid.

South Africa’s people were readying themselves for a different future but uncertain if the miracle of leadership would be there. In the end, of course, the miracle was Nelson Mandela, with a passion for reconciliation and forgiveness that astonished the world. It was built on a base that had been prayed for and actively worked for in South Africa for years before his release. Nelson Mandela was the pivotal figure around whom all this work became based and whose attitudes overcame the fear and negativity from people who knew intellectually what needed to be done but simply could not see how it could happen. It is impossible to predict what would have happened without such leadership.

I regret that I did so little for the struggle here in the United Kingdom, but my friend Peter Pike, with 26 years in the Anti-Apartheid Movement before he even set foot in South Africa, deserves to have his voice heard today. I asked him over the weekend what he would say if he were here, and he told me of his memories of the visits. He reminded me that one MP had believed God created reptiles, birds, animals, black people, brown people and white people and that they should all keep their places as species—and he thumped his Bible to prove it. He undermined his argument, however, by declaring that he had proof that Mrs Thatcher was “a Marxist infiltrator”.

Peter reminded us of how, on our next visit, he had asked why the security was building up as we approached the security gate at Johannesburg airport. I said it might be because of the large “Free Nelson Mandela” badge he was wearing on his lapel. He asked one of the

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security guards, “Is it illegal for me to wear the badge?” He was told very briskly, “It is not illegal, but it is extremely inadvisable.”

Peter wanted to say this in particular:

“I believe one thing so typical of Nelson Mandela was when he addressed the large meeting in Nelspruit. At the end he had young white youths asking him what would their future be in a black South Africa. He put his arms around their shoulders and said he was not removing the domination of South Africa by the white minority to allow it to be dominated by another race. The new South Africa would be for all South Africans and that they were the South Africans of the future. He ended by saying it was a pity that they had wasted 27 years and could not have talked like this before.”

I wanted Peter Pike’s words—the voice of a true, authentic anti-apartheid supporter—to be heard in this House today.

In conclusion, world leaders have on their plate a series of conflicts, which I know only too well from the past three and a half years. A better tribute to Nelson Mandela than all the fine words we are going to hear at the funeral would be for the leaders involved in just one of those conflicts to echo reconciliation and forgiveness, the magnanimity of power and the true service of their people and to lead their people in humility and peace rather than grandeur and war.

3.41 pm

Margaret Beckett (Derby South) (Lab): For me, as for so many of my generation, the story of Nelson Mandela and his comrades and colleagues has been inextricably interwoven with political life and campaigning. Events such as Sharpeville helped awaken and shape political awareness. Campaigns against the evils of apartheid have run throughout the years of my political and trade union life. I think it is right to recognise today that the whole trade union movement, including my own union, Unite, of which I am proud to have been a member for almost 50 years, was resolute in its support and solidarity throughout those difficult years.

As those years drew to a close, I recall, like the right hon. and learned Member for Kensington (Sir Malcolm Rifkind), a conversation with President de Klerk, who asked me, quite anxiously—I was surprised at how anxious he seemed—if I thought that reaching agreement would in fact transform South Africa’s standing in the world and end his country’s status as some kind of international pariah. He seemed relieved and almost grateful when I assured him that I thought that a free South Africa—or a South Africa with its people free—would be welcomed everywhere with open arms.

I think there is going to be much emphasis today on what we can learn from Nelson Mandela. As has been said, he was in no way a saint, as he himself acknowledged. He was, however—this point is not always mentioned, although it has already been made today—a politician, and a party politician and party leader at that. Born into a community that lacked wealth and power, he understood it was both honourable and desirable to band together with others of a like mind to fight to change things for the better. That, after all, is what every political party, in its own way, is about.

It was as the leader of the ANC that he took part in those historic negotiations. I say that in particular because the tone of some comments that have been made about

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him—not so much here today, but elsewhere, and for the best and most well-meaning of reasons—is such that it is almost as if he was somehow above politics. Of course, he became admired and revered, quite rightly, but he was not above politics; he was practising politics. He was engaged in politics, and it was through politics that the transformation of South Africa was secured.

Like many here, I had the opportunity to meet Nelson Mandela on a number of occasions. One I particularly recall in these days was in 1998 when I attended the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the signing of the general agreement on tariffs and trade. Seated in the hall, I heard a tremendous commotion at the rear. The delegate from South Africa had arrived, and a kind of wave passed through the hall as delegates from every country in the world rose spontaneously to applaud him. I was both honoured and humbled when he took his place beside me.

We all honour him as a hero of the armed struggle. Unlike some others who were also honoured in that vein, particularly during my student years, he became also a hero of the peace. That is why we remember him in this way.

3.45 pm

Mr Charles Kennedy (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (LD): I follow on exactly from the comments of the right hon. Member for Derby South (Margaret Beckett) and her reminiscence but also her mild remonstrance, which is absolutely well made, that we are talking here about a politician. Certainly in the civil encounters with President Mandela in one capacity, and with Mr Mandela post-presidency in other capacities, not only was his sense of humour telling, but so was the self-deprecating use to which he put that humour, lest there was any thought that a political halo could be bestowed upon him. He certainly did not want that, and he would not want that to be part of his legacy today.

I mention humour because my first introduction to Nelson Mandela was far from fortuitous. He was then President, and enormous numbers of parliamentarians had somehow all descended on South Africa at the same time. They had come from New Zealand, Australia, here, Ireland, France—all on fact-finding missions. It was interesting that these fact-finding missions all coincided with the rugby world cup that was taking place in South Africa. Given that there were more visiting foreign politicians in the country than even visiting foreign rugby players, the President held a great gala reception. The leader of our delegation, my friend Rupert Redesdale, Liberal Democrat hereditary peer, was introducing the British delegation to the President, and he was pretty apprehensive in the presence of the great man. It came to my turn, and he said, “Mr President, one of my colleagues from the House of Commons in London. This is Nigel Kennedy.” The President’s characteristically firm handshake and jovial welcome confirmed two things for me there and then. First of all, he had never heard of Nigel Kennedy, but far more distressingly, he sure as hell had not heard of me either.

Things got worse on that visit. The hon. Member for Glasgow South West (Mr Davidson), the then Member for Govan, who I am glad is in his place today—looking back, I was not so glad he was in his place on that occasion that evening—and I were photographed with President Mandela. What a wonderful memento to

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have. A few months later I was passing through Glasgow, my favourite city, and as I always do when I am there, I picked up a copy of the Glasgow

Evening Times.

The front page photo and lead story was that the South African Government had confirmed that the Clyde would be very much on the preferred bidders list for the latest warship that they were seeking interest in globally, and there was a photo of the hon. Gentleman and the President himself, with the caption, “Local MP, Ian Davidson, lobbying President Mandela on a recent visit to South Africa”. But the funny thing was that when I looked at the photo, I discovered that I had been airbrushed out of history. Perhaps that has been the story of my life ever since. I think, however, that President Mandela would have admired the hon. Gentleman’s guile, and the way in which he exploited that opportunity. He did not do it in a mendacious way, but it was not particularly helpful to me.

Another meeting that I recall took place when he was plain Mr Mandela again, post-presidency, when the years were beginning to show. It was the night of the concert in Trafalgar square and, as we would say at home, it was a gey dreich night. It was cold, windy and wet, with horizontal rain. Mr Mandela was tired, and he was wearing an overcoat. First, he insisted on working the room in South Africa House and speaking to everyone there. Then he went outside and enthralled the young, if rather soaked, audience who had been listening to the music. At that point, his minders were pretty keen to move him along and get him to his bed, which he clearly needed. But no—the coat came off and he came back up the stairs in South Africa House and worked the room again. We came face to face for a second time. He looked at me and said, “We talked earlier”, and I said, “Yes we did, Mr Mandela, it was an honour to meet you and we had a very nice chat.” “Oh good,” he said, “I will move on, but I did not want you to think I had been rude.” That is the difference, is it not? That was a man who, when he needed votes, could weigh them in quantities that we practising politicians can only dream of, yet when he was beyond the need for votes he still conducted himself with that extra special magic ingredient that separated him out, like the wheat from the chaff, from day-to-day jobbing politics the world over.

Today I am wearing the tie of Glasgow university, where I have the role of university rector. Glasgow gave Mandela the freedom of the city at a time when it was unfashionable to do so, and he came to celebrate that on another dreich day in the years following his release. Exactly a week ago, we were in this place paying tribute to those in Glasgow who had suffered as a result of the terrible helicopter crash. Many of the most heartfelt international tributes from outside this place came from South Africa. A week is a long time in politics. Last night, as rector of the university, I had the privilege of contributing to the beautiful annual carol service in the chapel. The format at the end was changed, so that instead of singing the university’s anthem “Gaudeamus igitur”, the choir sang a beautiful version of the rainbow nation’s wonderful national anthem. The thoughts that came to Glasgow from South Africa this time last week were returned with generosity and good will this week.

Mandela was in many ways simply the best. When President Obama said that we should not see his like again, I guess he was right on one level. But let us look at what Mandela did and at the fact that his words and deeds moved Table mountain, and let us hope that we

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do see his like again. Let us hope that we see his like in the middle east or in the vicinity of the Koreas, for example, where people are crying out for a generation of politicians of a quality that can move mountains and minds in the way that Mandela did. He reminds us that our trade need not be as awful as it is often depicted. He has given us something better to work for in ourselves.

3.54 pm

Frank Dobson (Holborn and St Pancras) (Lab): It is a great honour to take part in this tribute to Nelson Mandela. As far as I am concerned, it is almost as good as the magic moment when I sat with my wife in Westminster Hall as he addressed both Houses of our Parliament as the democratically elected President of all South Africans.

I know that I speak on behalf of people in my constituency, Holborn and St Pancras, because they have a very special relationship with the Anti-Apartheid Movement. The movement was founded at a meeting of about 60 people in Holborn hall in the summer of 1959. Its first leaflets were distributed a fortnight later outside Camden Town underground station. Its headquarters were always located in our area, and it always had our support.

Local people were particularly delighted when Mr Mandela came to Camden Town in July 2003 to unveil a blue plaque in memory of Ruth First, who was murdered by the South African secret police, and Joe Slovo, who was a member of President Mandela’s first Cabinet. I am delighted that his daughter Gillian Slovo is here to observe our proceedings.

Over many years, committed people in Britain campaigned against apartheid, the trials of the leaders of the African National Congress and the imprisonments that followed. They continued to campaign against the oppression of all black South Africans and of all the other people who supported them. We also campaigned for the release of the prisoners, eventually concentrating on the release of Nelson Mandela, partly as a symbol—and what a symbol he turned out to be.

The commonplace history of political leaders is hope followed by disillusionment, but not with Nelson Mandela. His example exceeded the highest hopes of the opponents of apartheid, and shattered the delusions of those who portrayed him and the African National Congress as bloodthirsty monsters. Instead of bringing disillusionment to the world, he became the most widely admired man on planet earth.

Nelson Mandela shamed and astonished the world by his forbearance and dignity in the face of all that he and his comrades had suffered at the hands of the apartheid system, including the 27 years—I stress, 27 years—that he spent in jail. The phrase “27 years” comes trippingly off the tongue, but try to imagine what that was like. Let us each imagine the last 27 years of our own lives, and then substitute for them those 27 years of pain, deprivation and indignity. His were 27 years of powerlessness to protect his people and his family, and he was even denied access to family funerals. During all that time, he and his ANC comrades sustained one another by mutual support, but those 27 years of imprisonment were unforgivable. We all know that if we came out of 27 years of unjust imprisonment, we would demand revenge, so people the world over could scarcely

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believe it when Mr Mandela preached not revenge, but reconciliation, and then went on to practise what he preached.

That was not easy: it was not just a case of reconciling white South Africans with majority rule; it was necessary to reconcile millions of black South Africans with not taking what they regarded as legitimate retribution against their oppressors. However, those who supported the anti-apartheid cause were not so surprised at what happened. We knew that the freedom charter drawn up by the leaders of the ANC, including Nelson Mandela, had committed them to a non-racial South Africa in which everyone would be subject to the same laws and protected by the same laws, and which would pursue a policy of social justice. Those prisoners went into jail committed to that cause, and they came out committed to that cause. They had not changed their dream of a non-racist South Africa; it was up to others to abandon their oppression, racial smears and scaremongering.

South Africa and the world were fortunate to have, in Nelson Mandela, a leader superbly fitted to bringing about the necessary change. The responses from all around the world in the past few days attest to that. He was a man with a unique combination of profound dignity and a sense of fun; a man of towering intellect and plain words; and a man of the deepest enduring commitment to the cause of liberty. He was surely the model of what every decent human being would wish to be.

Meeting Nelson Mandela was a pleasure. He put people at their ease, but behind the twinkling eyes, charm and self-deprecating humour was the tempered steel of his commitment to his principles. After meeting him, most people, including Presidents and Prime Ministers, realised that they did not measure up to his standards. Most of us at least felt inspired to try to do a bit better in future. He made racists look pathetic. In my view, his example made it possible for Barack Obama to be elected President of the United States.

Mr Mandela rightly enjoyed the worldwide recognition of his remarkable character and achievements, but he never allowed that to divert him from applying the lessons of history and his political principles to the problems of the present and the future.

In the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, like many others, I spent a lot of time on marches and rallies, handing out leaflets, organising campaigns, helping to organise the first Wembley concert and getting people to boycott South African goods. I confess that I sometimes wondered whether it was doing any good. I even felt the same after addressing the United Nations special committee against apartheid. In one of my conversations with Nelson Mandela, I confessed to my doubts about the value of our very limited contribution to the anti-apartheid campaign. His answer was that what we had done had been invaluable; that, even in jail, the prisoners had heard about the protests in London—they had known they had not been forgotten and they had been aware of the ever-growing pressure on the South African Government.

That, of course, is why he addressed the Labour party conference. He came to thank the Labour party and the trade unions for what he called our faithful support for the African National Congress “over many decades”, which had

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“helped to make those years…bearable and contributed to them not turning out to be wasted years.”

That lesson from the past should hearten all people who are involved in today’s campaigns for justice.

The worldwide response to the passing of this good old man has involved praise in equal measure from both friends and former enemies. I am sure that Nelson Mandela would have wanted us to welcome the repenting sinners. However, the test for them does not reside in the sentiments they now express. The test of their sincerity will be revealed in their response to the problems the world faces now and in the future. Will they apply his tests of what is just and right?

In his speech at the Labour party conference, Nelson Mandela said that

“the world has become the global village of which we once spoke only in wishful metaphor.”

He pointed out:

“The danger is that globalisation can come to mean only the free flow of goods and finance, the open access to markets”,

and warned:

“The concern for the common good, which characterised the international solidarity we spoke of, is in danger of being lost in the current understanding of a global world.”

It is time for leaders around the world and here at home to heed his warning. Then and only then will we know that they have really learned the lessons of Nelson Mandela’s life and work.

A few years ago, a child at a primary school in my constituency came up and asked me, “Who is the goodest person you know?” I did not correct her English—I knew what she wanted to know. I said, “Nelson Mandela.” All of us who had the honour of meeting him will go to our graves feeling privileged to be able to say, “Yes, I met Nelson Mandela.”

4.5 pm

Miss Anne McIntosh (Thirsk and Malton) (Con): It is a great pleasure to follow the right hon. Member for Holborn and St Pancras (Frank Dobson), and I recognise the contribution that he made.

Just before the right hon. Member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath (Mr Brown) leaves his place, may I say that he became the first ever directly elected rector of Edinburgh university while I was a student a couple of years behind him? To break the secrets of the ballot box, I think he will know that he did not have my support. That was the time when the movement against apartheid was starting, and I pay tribute to all those who were involved. As chairman of the all-party South Africa group, I wish to record my tribute to Nelson Mandela, on behalf of all the group’s officers and members, and pay condolences to his widow, family and friends.

There are two major events in my lifetime that I believe will be remembered in history. One is the collapse of the Berlin wall and the events leading up to it. The other, of course, is the release of Nelson Mandela, leading to his eventual election as President and the introduction of true democracy in South Africa. Never has there been a time when the legacy of Nelson Mandela has been so needed as it is now. One need only see what is happening in the Central African Republic to realise how much we can learn from the history of his lifetime.

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I also wish to record that the all-party South Africa group and other country groups meet under the auspices of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, and we must not lose sight of the great contribution that Nelson Mandela, his party and his Government made to the Commonwealth during his time as President. That was when the great diversity of the Commonwealth really came into its own.

In recording Nelson Mandela’s contribution and celebrating his life, I express great hope that his legacy will live on, and that his contribution to the great nation and people of South Africa, and to our great Commonwealth, will live on for future generations to enjoy.

4.8 pm

Keith Vaz (Leicester East) (Lab): I begin by thanking you, Mr Speaker, for clearing the Order Paper today to allow Members to pay tribute to Nelson Mandela. It shows the unique way in which the House views that great man, the great Madiba, that we should have these tributes. I am in the fortunate position of agreeing with everything that every other speaker has said, which I suppose is a feature of this important and historic debate.

I met Nelson Mandela just after I was elected to the House. He was attending a reception in Westminster, and my meeting with him echoes the stories that others who met him have recounted today. I cannot say that I had anything like the relationship with him that my right hon. Friend the Member for Neath (Mr Hain) had, but anyone who did meet him will know that he was an extraordinary and very special man.

To the black and ethnic minority communities in this country, Nelson Mandela will of course have a very special place. When my hon. Friend the Member for Streatham (Mr Umunna) was interviewed at the weekend, he talked eloquently about Madiba’s visit to Brixton and the great inspiration that he had been to the people there. Certainly if we go to any meeting at which race and racism is discussed, the example, legacy and inspiration of Nelson Mandela is mentioned. It is not just in respect of South Africa that we remember him. On one of his visits, we saw his support for the Stephen Lawrence campaign. He met Doreen and Neville Lawrence, and after the meeting he said this:

“We are deeply touched by the brutality of this murder, even though it is commonplace in our country. It seems black lives are cheap.”

Neville and Doreen Lawrence were inspired by those words, and it was the support of that global figure that enabled the campaign to be so successful.

On my arrival as the parliamentary candidate in Leicester, I walked straight into a Mandela issue: one of the controversies that unfortunately surrounded so many of the schemes to name monuments, parks and buildings after Mandela. After my selection, there was a huge controversy in Leicester because the local council—led at the time by the current mayor, Sir Peter Soulsby—was trying to rename the Welford Road recreation ground after Nelson Mandela. Many people objected, because they felt that he had no connection with Leicester, but the council persisted and named it after him.

Twenty-five streets in the towns and cities of the United Kingdom are named after Mandela, nearly a third of the world’s known total. Most date back to the

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1980s. The first example was in the constituency of the hon. Member for Brent Central (Sarah Teather), where the council unveiled Mandela close in 1981. I think that if Members wish to keep the legacy of Mandela going locally, they should take account of the examples set by other cities, such as Leicester, and try to name something after this great man.

Let me end by saying just two things, because I know that many other Members want to speak. Nelson Mandela was concerned not just about South Africa, but about Africa, and what concerned him was the legacy of those who had ruined that beautiful and rich continent because of colonial rule. When he won in South Africa, he said that it was not just about South Africa and apartheid in South Africa, but about laying the foundations of democracy for the future of Africa as a whole. Although our focus will naturally be on South Africa, especially this week, many other countries deserve the support of the House, and, although Mandela’s reach was global, he was particularly concerned about his own continent.

Every time we come into the Chamber for prayers—led by your marvellous chaplain, Mr Speaker—we read the words of the Lord’s Prayer. We say, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Those words of the Lord’s Prayer were practised by Mandela. He never preached religion, but his values in forgiving trespasses are very obvious in the life of this remarkable man. We will truly never see his like again.

4.13 pm

Sir Menzies Campbell (North East Fife) (LD): Rather like the right hon. Member for Leicester East (Keith Vaz), I feel that everything that should have been said has been said—most notably, perhaps, by the right hon. Member for Neath (Mr Hain), whom I am glad to call my friend, albeit outside the Chamber. After all, we were once in the same party together.

It is inevitable on these occasions that we speak, as it were, through the prism of our own recollections. Of course, Nelson Mandela created many iconic images, but one in particular sticks in my mind, and it has already been mentioned. Let me put it in context. I had not really understood the absurdity of apartheid in sport until 1965, when, at the White City stadium in London, two teams from South Africa were competing in the annual athletics championships, a black team wearing black blazers and a white team wearing green blazers. They were able to compete against each other at the White City stadium in London, but they could not compete against each other in Cape Town or Johannesburg. If I had any doubts about the absurdity of apartheid in sport, they were most certainly extinguished on that occasion.

As we have heard, sport in South Africa was a deeply divisive issue. When in 1995, at the rugby world cup final, Nelson Mandela wore a South African rugby shirt to present the winner’s trophy to the South African captain, he made an extraordinary gesture. Indeed, it goes a little further than we have heard today, because Mandela wore the No. 6, which was the jersey number of the white South African captain. I shall finish now, because so many hon. Members wish to speak, but by that simple act he turned what was divisive into something that was a force for unity. Surely on that occasion there was no better way to express his ambition for his country.

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4.16 pm

Angus Robertson (Moray) (SNP): On behalf of the Scottish National party, it is a tremendous honour to take part in this special tribute to the remarkable and amazing Nelson Mandela, and to follow the amazing tributes that we have heard thus far from the Front Benches, from the former Prime Minister, the right hon. Member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath (Mr Brown), from the right hon. Member for Neath (Mr Hain) and from many others.

I was at school and then at university in the 1980s, when apartheid as an issue, and the campaign for the release of Nelson Mandela and other African National Congress prisoners, was at its height. The Anti-Apartheid Movement in Scotland was extremely strong, with the city of Glasgow granting the imprisoned ANC leader the freedom of that great city. Everyone in Scotland remembers with tremendous affection Nelson Mandela’s visit to Glasgow after his release, when he collected the freedom of the city in person. He said:

“Whilst we were physically denied our freedom in the country of our birth, a city 6,000 miles away refused to accept the legitimacy of the apartheid system and declared us to be free. You, the people of Glasgow, pledged that you would not relax until I was free to receive this honour in person. I am deeply grateful to you and the anti-apartheid movement in Scotland for all your efforts to this end.”

What was true about Glasgow was true about many other places the length and breadth of the UK and around the world, and we today remember all of those people who campaigned for his release and the end of apartheid. We remember especially all those people in South Africa who made the ultimate sacrifice and died as part of that campaign. We also recall the support of Nelson Mandela for the Scottish justice system—which did not please all—with the compassionate release of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi.

What Nelson Mandela achieved in South Africa was literally amazing and had previously seemed unimaginable. His humanity, dignity, optimism and vision are a legacy for the whole world to share and will never be forgotten.

4.18 pm

Mr Henry Bellingham (North West Norfolk) (Con): It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Moray (Angus Robertson). I too send my heartfelt condolences to Nelson Mandela’s widow and family. I will never forget the first time I met Nelson Mandela. Opposition Members have spoken of his extraordinary warmth and I certainly witnessed that.

I was lucky enough to visit South Africa on what I think was the first all-party parliamentary group visit after the 1994 elections, a delegation led by the hon. Member for Nottingham North (Mr Allen). The Conservatives on the delegation felt a degree of apprehension and unease before the meeting in Shell house in Jo’burg. We could hardly have been seen by the ANC as great historic allies, and we were not exactly on the right side of the struggle against apartheid. But I will never forget three things from that first meeting with President Mandela, as he was then. First was his extraordinary warmth. Secondly, he seemed to understand intuitively that the Conservatives on the delegation felt uneasy. He went out of his way to put us at ease, and when we went around the table introducing ourselves he said to the Conservatives, “I’m really grateful to

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Margaret Thatcher for what she did, and I am very grateful to your current Prime Minister, Mr Major, for all he’s done for our country.” It was as though he wanted to go out of his way to put our minds completely at ease. Thirdly, when the hon. Member for Nottingham North started the conversation he said, “Mr President, your Excellency, we are hugely honoured to be here,” and the President said, “No, no, I’m honoured to have you here.” I do not think anyone who met him ever forgot his incredible charm and his impeccable manners.

A lot of people have spoken about his magnanimity, his ability to forgive, his dignity and his desire for reconciliation, and I want to just pick up two incidents that are really quite extraordinary. First, he appointed his former jailer, Jannie Roux, who went on to become a prison commissioner, as ambassador to Austria. The other example testifies to his extraordinary ability to forgive: he organised an official lunch for Percy Yutar, who was the official prosecutor in the Rivonia trial and who was calling for his execution during that trial.

As my right hon. Friend the Member for North East Bedfordshire (Alistair Burt) mentioned, it is easy to forget the sense of pessimism in South Africa in the ’80s and very early ’90s. Indeed, 70% of South Africans believed that the situation would end in an appalling civil war and a bloodbath. I believe that Nelson Mandela was personally responsible for preventing that from happening and for preventing an utter catastrophe. Also—what an example this is to other African leaders—he never, ever went out of his way to try to better himself at the expense of his fellow countrymen. He never let power go to his head and he was never, ever corrupted. What an absolute tragedy that more leaders on that continent are not following his extraordinary example.

While we mourn a remarkable man, we must give thanks for a truly extraordinary life.

Mr Speaker: We are extremely grateful to the hon. Gentleman for that speech.

4.22 pm

Hilary Benn (Leeds Central) (Lab): There are rare moments in life when the death of one person brings the world together and touches many hearts, and the passing of Nelson Mandela is such a moment. In truth, the words we reach for to try and describe his achievements seem not to match the scale of the task or do justice to what he achieved, the feelings we hold for him and the memories we have of both.

In Leeds, we have our memory of that day in April 2001 when he came to our city to receive its freedom—the highest honour we were able to bestow. We cheered his arrival in a packed Millennium square as he climbed the stage and, in his characteristic way, paused to greet every person who was on it, including the children who had been singing: everyone mattered and everyone was included. He then addressed us, and he began with these immortal words: “It is wonderful to be here in Liverpool.” There are other occasions on which uttering those words in Leeds could get you into some difficulty, but did we care? No, we did not: we cheered him all the more, because it was a privilege to be there in that throng to see a man who had made history.

Whether in public or in private, Nelson Mandela was that same man: he was calm, he was dignified, he was resolute, he was unfailingly courteous. It is no wonder

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that he was an inspiration to so many people, because, with grace, he showed that belief makes everything possible.

However, as we have heard today, it did not always seem so, and so as we remember one man’s extraordinary life, each of us recalls—including in the contributions we have heard, many of them extremely moving—how our lives were intertwined with his. Although the House speaks with one voice today, it was not always so. As we have heard from my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, those who marched to Trafalgar square or stood on the pavement outside South Africa house were not treated as heroes—indeed, some regarded us, them and him as dangerous extremists. My right hon. Friend the Member for Neath (Mr Hain) gave us a reminder by reading out those petty, demeaning rules on how much food the prisoners on Robben Island could get. When I visited and saw those things written on the signs, my jaw dropped, because there was represented a perpetuation of racist difference instead of what Mandela stood for, which was to embrace our common humanity. It is therefore right that we should pay tribute to all those people, including those still in this House, who showed such courage to stand up for him, for his ideals and for the ANC at a time when it was neither fashionable nor popular to do so.

Mandela’s passing also reminds us that many of the great changes we have now come to take for granted—and, oh, don’t we take them for granted—came not through the consensus we have heard expressed here today, but in and through struggle and through politics. My right hon. Friend the Member for Derby South (Margaret Beckett) was absolutely right to make the point about the power of politics to utterly transform our world and people’s lives.

Out of all the words that have been used to describe Nelson Mandela two stand out for me: magnanimity and reconciliation. After those long years of imprisonment, he showed magnanimity at the very moment when he had forced the apartheid regime to grant him his freedom by refusing to yield, and he preached reconciliation. Why? It was because he knew it was the only way he could achieve his vision of a non-racist and democratic South Africa—it was his leadership that made that possible.

I simply say that one of the best ways in which we can honour Mandela’s memory is to let his example stand—the right hon. Member for North East Bedfordshire (Alistair Burt) made this point—as a lesson to the leaders in other conflicts in the world today, because, like Nelson Mandela, they face two simple choices. The easy path is to remain a victim. The more courageous path is to say to those they lead and to the world, “This is what we must now do in the interests of peace.” Nelson Mandela once said:

“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.”

May he be granted in death the peace for which he campaigned so hard in life.

4.27 pm

Michael Ellis (Northampton North) (Con): It is a privilege and honour to follow the right hon. Member for Leeds Central (Hilary Benn).

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It is not easy to find the best words to describe Nelson Mandela, but his nobility, dignified nature and courage, and the inspiration he brought to countless others, have already been spoken of far more eloquently than I can speak of them. His absence of bitterness and resentment is perhaps the most extraordinary of all his attributes, and perhaps also the rarest. He was similar in one respect to Winston Churchill: in the magnanimity he showed, and spoke of showing, in victory.

Unlike many of the previous speakers, I never had the privilege of meeting Nelson Mandela, so I would like to honour him by mentioning just some of those who helped him in their small and various ways. There were millions who did so, including those who went to the concerts and those who went in their hundreds of thousands to marches. Of course the Jewish people, the people of my faith, played a crucial role in various stages of Mandela’s life, especially in his early decades. Apparently, the only white person he ever called a boss of his was Lazar Sidelsky, a Jewish lawyer from Johannesburg, who in the 1940s hired him as a legal clerk. In his 1994 autobiography, “Long Walk to Freedom”, Mr Mandela said:

“It was a Jewish firm, and in my experience I have found Jews to be more broadminded than most whites on issues of race and politics, perhaps because they themselves have historically been victims of prejudice.”

He went on:

“The fact that Lazar Sidelsky, one of the firm’s partners, would take on a young African as an articled clerk—almost unheard-of in those days—was evidence of that liberalism.”

Many years later, Mandela apparently attended the Bar Mitzvah of Sidelsky’s son, Barry. Countless other Jewish people had close relationships with Mr Mandela—people such as Isie Maisels, Harry Schwarz, Joe Slovo and Lionel Bernstein. Many others helped him in his long struggle and, in many cases, suffered for it. Arthur Goldreich helped to hide Mr Mandela and the ANC in the early 1960s. He apparently set up a fake farm to do so, but was unfortunately uncovered in 1963 by the South African apartheid security forces and later managed to escape to the country.

Benjamin Pogrund, the former deputy editor of the Rand Daily Mail, South Africa’s leading newspaper, was a pioneer in reporting politics at a time when it was not only unfashionable to report on black politics in South Africa but illegal. As has already been said, Mr Mandela was a politician, and the importance of having those political references transmitted in newsprint cannot be overstated. In 1961, Pogrund helped Mr Mandela to organise an illegal strike. In the 1980s, he was among the first non-family members to visit him in his cell on Robben Island. Of course there were others who were not supportive of Mr Mandela. Many in the small Jewish community in South Africa adopted a sort of benign neutrality.

Mr Mandela was always a strong supporter of the Palestinian people. I echo remarks made by Members on both sides of the House about how we now must look for leaders of a similar stature—I hope that that is possible—who can take the lead in other perennial conflicts around the world, and who can, like a colossus as Nelson Mandela was, bestride both sides of the argument. It will take someone of Mandela’s ilk to work towards reconciliation in those parts of the world. Nelson Mandela was always firm about Israel’s right to a peaceful existence, but he strongly supported the

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cause of the Palestinian people. In his work for reconciliation, he chose not to dig up the hatred and the anger, which are so justified in many cases. He famously said, “Those who wish to foster recrimination and hatred are like people who take poison expecting it to injure their enemies.”

In 1997, he agreed to receive, in South Africa, an honorary doctorate from Ben-Gurion university. He then went on to take about 30 honorary doctorates. It would be remiss of me not to mention Progressive party member Helen Suzman, the only politician in the South African Parliament between 1961 and 1974 who was opposed to apartheid.

Mr Bellingham: A great woman.

Michael Ellis: A great woman, as my hon. Friend points out.

Apparently, when Helen Suzman was questioning a Minister in the South African Parliament and asking him to justify the apartheid policies that the South African Government were inflicting on the people of that country—she was alone in her views—the Minister said to her, “Your questions are embarrassing South Africa, ” and she responded, “It’s not my questions, it’s your answers.” She was made an honorary dame by Her Majesty the Queen in 1989 and the House will no doubt agree that she richly deserved that honour.

I wanted to honour Nelson Mandela in my speech today by mentioning just a small number of those people who helped him along that path and by giving the names of some of those who honoured him in their lifetimes. I pay tribute to a great man.

4.35 pm

Mr David Winnick (Walsall North) (Lab): I certainly agree with the hon. Member for Northampton North (Michael Ellis) that Nelson Mandela would have had a loathing of anti-Semitism while at the same time supporting the Palestinian cause. He would have recognised that the Palestinian cause is another injustice that must be righted at some stage—and the earlier the better.

In paying tribute to this outstanding personality today, we should remember, as he would always wish us to, all those who dedicated themselves to the liberation movement in South Africa and worked tirelessly when they were forced into exile. It should not be forgotten that when Mandela faced a possible death sentence in 1964, seven others were in the dock with him. They included Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki, whose son was to be the second President of South Africa after apartheid, and Denis Goldberg. They were all sentenced to prison for life and they all knew before the sentence was passed the sharp possibility that they would be executed.

Others should not be forgotten either, such as Steve Biko, who was not of the ANC but had his own black consciousness movement. He was arrested on a number of occasions and the last time he was in police custody he was murdered. He was beaten to death in November 1977. Others were murdered outside South Africa, of course, including, as my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition said, Ruth First, the wife of Joe Slovo. As Members will know, Joe Slovo was one of the leading senior military commanders in the ANC. Like

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Ruth First, he dedicated his life to a free South Africa. Slovo survived all and became a Minister in Mandela’s Government.

If I may stray just a little from the consensus today—only a little—I think that we should be asking ourselves in paying tribute to Nelson Mandela how it was possible for the apartheid regime to last more than 40 years. My knowledge of South Africa at 15 was very limited. I knew about the war involving Britain that my right hon. Friend the Member for Neath (Mr Hain) mentioned, obviously, and I knew that Africans in that country were not having a good time of it, to say the least. But when I read in 1948 that the National party had won the election, I knew immediately, like so many people in this country and despite my young years, that far worse was to come for the black majority.

Three years after the decisive defeat of European fascism, with Nazi Germany defeated at long last, why, when a regime came into being with a Government elected by whites that was determined to bring about the strictest form of segregation based on colour and to remove the few rights that Africans had, did western powers show such indifference? Later, it was not indifference alone. We know, as was widely reported, how every form of humiliation was put on the majority of people living in South Africa, such as the notorious pass laws, which made their lives difficult from day to day. We know the repression and the manner in which people such as Nelson Mandela and the rest were forced, against their wishes in the main, to take up armed struggle. The ANC, which was established in 1911, was anxious to avoid violence until 1960, but after Sharpeville that was not possible. Ironically, Sharpeville was not organised as a demonstration by the ANC. I remember the reaction of the Labour movement when Sharpeville occurred on 21 March 1960. It was an early Easter, and the London Labour party, for instance, cancelled its weekend meetings and joined a massive demonstration in Trafalgar square. Far from opposing the regime, there was indifference when the apartheid Government were elected. Britain, the United States and most democracies were quite willing over those 40 years, to sell all kinds of military equipment to South Africa and to train its military personnel.

We raised the issue on many occasions in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, before Nelson Mandela and his colleagues were released, and before the ban on the ANC was lifted, and every time we did so in the House of Commons the response from the Government of the day—certainly from Conservative Governments—was “We oppose apartheid”. I do not question that—I do not believe for one moment that Mrs Thatcher was in favour of apartheid. In fact, she would have realised that that was counter-productive. The accusation is not that those politicians were in favour of apartheid—some may have been, but the majority were not—but that they refused to take any action to undermine and isolate the system and see it destroyed. That is the accusation that I think historians will make against those in power. That does not apply only to Britain—the United States carried far more responsibility for keeping the regime in office.

I hope that the lesson has been learned: when tyranny occurs, we should take a somewhat different attitude. I hope that there is no repeat of what occurred when apartheid was able to exist for such a long time. I also have to ask why so many Members of Parliament, and

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future Members of Parliament, were willing to go on so-called fact-finding trips, with all expenses paid by the South African Government? It was argued that they wanted to see the position for themselves, but I noticed when they came back that they did not condemn the regime, which is an indictment of parliamentarians of the past that I hope will also not be repeated.

Nelson Mandela was one of the great people of our times. He was an outstanding personality, he gave inspired leadership to his people and in his own way—27 years’ imprisonment, apart from anything else—dedicated his whole adult life to freedom in South Africa. I wish only that we could say that Britain played a decisive part in helping to remove the apartheid regime, and in paying tribute to Mandela we should recognise our own faults and limitations.

4.43 pm

Simon Hughes (Bermondsey and Old Southwark) (LD): It is a privilege to take part in this debate to pay tribute to Nelson Mandela and to join colleagues who have done that so wonderfully well across the House.

At the period of its greatest need in the last century, that beautiful, proud, rich and wonderfully diverse and talented country, South Africa, needed someone of Nelson Mandela’s stature to rescue it from what was, in my judgment and that of many others, inevitable civil war. There was a great probability of huge conflict and further killing to add to all the injustice, suffering and oppression that had gone before. After 40 years of pent-up repression since 1948, things could not have been held for much longer by the apartheid regime.

I, like others, became a student activist in the Young Liberals at the same time as the right hon. Member for Neath (Mr Hain). I pay tribute to him and to his parents and his family for their example, having come to this country, in making people realise that we had an international duty of solidarity to others a long way away. Even if we could not directly affect what was happening, we could indirectly affect what was happening. The stop the tour campaign and the other actions certainly added to the changes that South Africa underwent.

Many people who have been in this place and are currently in the other place and elsewhere were part of the Anti-Apartheid Movement and led it in this country. Like others, I am very clear that Mike Terry was a stalwart of the movement, and I pay tribute to Bob Hughes, now in the other place. I pay tribute to Dick Caborn, with whom I reminisced only the other day, and to Glenys and Neil Kinnock and others in the Labour party in this country. I pay tribute, too, to my colleagues—to Jo Grimond, Jeremy Thorpe, David Steel and Paddy Ashdown, who were unrelenting in pursuing the case for a change in apartheid. I am glad that the hon. Member for Northampton North (Michael Ellis) paid tribute to Helen Suzman, the sole white South African Opposition politician elected under the apartheid system, who challenged and challenged and challenged again the oppression of the apartheid regime.

As my right hon. Friend the Member for North East Bedfordshire (Alistair Burt) said in his moving speech, we were privileged first to visit South Africa together in 1986 with our friend, Peter Pike, and Anthony Cordle, who arranged for us to go. I have very rarely been in tears in my public life, but we landed on the day before the anniversary of the Crossroads massacre. We stayed

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in the house of John Reid, the pro vice chancellor of Cape Town university. He was breaking the law by having black students living with him and his family in his house in a comfortable suburb of Cape Town.

On the other side of the railway line was the destroyed settlement of Crossroads. When we went to the memorial service the next day South African defence force tanks circled around us—the Casspirs—where 20,000 people’s homes had been destroyed. It was more than I had ever imagined a place where liberty had been extinguished for the majority of the people, and the oppression of the military and the South African economic strength was bearing down on them. I pay tribute to those such as our friend Garth Collins, who had started building bridges, which meant that from staying in the townships, in places such as Soweto, and visiting activists there, we could in the same day go to talk privately and confidentially to people in the Government who understood that they would have to change their ways.

We met people in the Dutch Reformed Church who, even then, did not understand how evil was their interpretation of the Bible as they understood it. I remember Peter Pike and I meeting P.W. Botha. We saw him coming towards us and we had a terrible moment: do we shake the hand of somebody whom we have opposed and campaigned against all our lives—Peter as a trade unionist and anti-apartheid activist, Alistair and I—or do we not? We did so, although, I have to say, it was difficult. Nelson Mandela showed that you have to reach out, shake people by the hand and seek to persuade them that they need to change their ways.

In 1994 I was privileged to host some young South Africans, mainly black and coloured South Africans, who were here on the day of the first election—that great day in April 1994 when the election took place in South Africa. Colleagues might remember that three polling stations were set up in London, one of which was at Methodist Central hall, for the first-ever democratic election. These youngsters wanted to be the first people to vote in this first-ever free election, so they camped overnight on the steps of Methodist Central hall. There were lots of journalists outside and they went in to vote. As they came out, the journalists were asking, if I may say so, rather simplistic journalistic questions. They stopped a young girl and asked, “Didn’t you find it very complicated to choose who to vote for, given that long list of parties on the ballot paper?” There was a little pause and she said to the journalist, “I didn’t find it complicated at all. We’ve had a lot of time to think about it.” A young black guy, perhaps 18 or 19 years old, was asked, rather predictably, “What did you feel as you cast your vote?” He paused and then very wisely said, “I put a very big cross so that nobody could ignore my opinion.”

That liberation moment, when those people queued to vote in that first election, that transformational moment, was Mandela’s doing. It was no accident that he was able to deliver it, because he had worked and prepared for it during his time on Robben Island. He learnt to speak Afrikaans fluently in order to engage not only with his jailers, but with people in the Government. He went out of his way, even before his formal release, to meet people secretly.

That great moment when he walked on to the pitch at the rugby world cup final in 1995 also followed huge preparation. Mandela had met Francois Pienaar on many occasions and they had become close friends. We

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remember his wonderful comments when he commended Francois Pienaar and the Springbok team, which I believe had only one non-white player in the squad, while wearing the Springbok jersey. Francois Pienaar said, “We are playing this game for you, Mr President, not only for South Africa.” The crowd, which was almost entirely white, chanted “Mandela, Mandela, Mandela” from the stands as South Africa went on to win. For those Members who are interested in sport, I recommend a wonderful book by John Carlin, “Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation”, which tracks the history of that rugby world cup tournament up to that moment. It is inspirational reading.

I had the huge privilege of being back in South Africa earlier this year. I was met by Helen Zille, Premier of the Western Cape, who kindly accommodated me in what had been the district administrator’s residence. I did not know it until I went into the house, but the room I was given to sleep in was the room in which Mandela had slept the night before his presidential inauguration—it is now called the Madiba room. I texted family members and friends back home to share my excitement. One replied, “He was a great man, and I assume somebody’s changed the sheets since then.” But as I sat at the desk from which he composed his Cabinet and looked out over Table Mountain, it was only then that the significance of the transformation he had brought about in politics in South Africa completely dawned on me.

I associate myself closely with the comments of the right hon. Member for Derby South (Margaret Beckett). Mandela was a political leader of a political party of a political movement across a continent, and it was in that role that he stood for office and was returned as the first democratically elected South African President. Hugely to his credit, he did not cling to office. He served only one term before handing over to the next generation, to Thabo Mbeki and others. A little like the father of the right hon. Member for Leeds Central (Hilary Benn), Tony Benn, who said when he left this place that he was going to do politics outside, Mandela went on to do wonderful leadership work—for example, in campaigning against HIV/AIDS.

I hope that Mandela’s legacy reminds everybody not only of the great example of people such as Trevor Huddleston and the wonderful inspiration of places such as St Martin-in-the-Fields, which campaigned against apartheid for many years and hosted all those who were not allowed into the South African embassy when they protested in Trafalgar square, but of the others in public life who always argued for the principled position. He proved that politicians can change the world, and even that lawyers who are politicians can do really important things.

I think that the courage, dignity and discipline that Mandela showed had another lasting legacy that colleagues, including the right hon. Member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath (Mr Brown), have alluded to: he made us realise that we all have a mutual responsibility for each other across the world. There is so much injustice, discrimination, poverty and inequality, including in South Africa, still to fight. I hope that he will inspire the people of South Africa, all its leaders and all its parties, to rise to the challenge and the rest of the world never to stand by for so long when such oppression goes on,

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to such disadvantage to so many. The most commonly heard phrase today has been, “We will never see his like again”, but we will do him a disservice if we do not use that inspiration in our own lives and in our politics.

4.55 pm

Paul Blomfield (Sheffield Central) (Lab): It is a privilege to speak today as one of the thousands whom my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition described as having been involved, month after month, year after year, when the Anti-Apartheid Movement was unpopular, in raising the demands of Mandela and of the African National Congress. We had no personal connection with South Africa but were drawn into the movement by the horror of apartheid, by the courage of those who stood against it, and by recognising the complicity of our own country in the apartheid regime’s longer-than-fitting survival. I was privileged to be involved for 25 years, for 16 of them as part of the elected national leadership of the movement, along with my right hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St Pancras (Frank Dobson) and my hon. Friend the Member for York Central (Hugh Bayley).

In 1976, shortly after the Soweto uprising, the ANC asked me to go to South Africa because at that time I was co-ordinating the student campaign in the UK against apartheid. The ANC wanted me to meet those involved in the uprising to explore how we could work together to build international solidarity. I travelled widely throughout the country until I was forced to leave having drawn the attention of the South African security forces. Among many powerful memories, I recall staying illegally in an Indian district in Cape Town in a house with a distant view of Robben Island. The woman whose house it was, who was not herself involved in politics, was probably puzzled by my presence there, having done a favour for a friend in putting me up. I probably did not recognise the risk that I was putting her at by being there illegally. We were talking one morning in her kitchen, and she pointed across to Robben Island and said, “When you go back to your country, tell your Government that that’s where our leaders are—not in Pretoria.” Sadly, it took many more years before this country did recognise that that is where the leaders were and did recognise the extraordinary leadership of Nelson Mandela.

In acknowledging that leadership today, we should also remember those who stood alongside Nelson Mandela who are also no longer with us: Walter Sisulu, who recruited him to the ANC, and Walter’s exceptional wife, Albertina, who, four decades later, nominated Mandela as the first President of a free, non-racial South Africa; Mandela’s colleague in the law practice in South Africa and subsequently the person who flew the flag of the ANC in exile for so long and so well, Oliver Tambo; and those already mentioned who built the Anti-Apartheid Movement around the world and in the UK, particularly Archbishop Trevor Huddleston, who, as president, led it so wonderfully for so many years, and Mike Terry, who, as executive secretary over the longest and most critical part of its existence, provided strategic leadership and a sense of direction that made it into the organisation that it was in this country.

I am proud that my city of Sheffield played its part in that movement. Hundreds were involved in the campaign against apartheid and thousands more took up the call

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by refusing to buy South African goods, changing their bank accounts, challenging the trade missions that went from the city, and standing outside our theatres and other big venues when those who breached the cultural boycott of South Africa performed there.

Our city council led a network of local authorities against apartheid. One of our universities divested itself of shares in companies operating in South Africa and another named one of its major buildings after Mandela. Our churches took up the cause and our trade unions pressed the boycott of South Africa in the workplace. All were inspired by Mandela, the ANC and the values of the freedom charter agreed at the Congress of the People in Kliptown in 1955.

It is important that when we reflect, we learn the real lessons. A lot has been said today about reconciliation and rightly so. Reconciliation is built on forgiving, but not on forgetting. The starting point for the reconciliation process that Mandela put in place in South Africa was to confront the truth of those who had been involved in the apartheid regime’s oppression. Around the world, many of those who have been quick to praise Mandela now should recognise, with humility, that they were as quick to condemn him in the past.

The eulogies of the past few days have glossed over the reality of the struggle. The story has been told almost as if white South Africa had, in time, come to their senses, realised that they had got it wrong with apartheid and thought it was about time they released Mandela and negotiated a peaceful settlement. Actually, however, the Prime Minister was right to say in his opening remarks that justice in South Africa was not handed down; it was hard-fought for. The truth is that freedom was not, as the right hon. and learned Member for Kensington (Sir Malcolm Rifkind) suggested, benevolently gifted to Mandela and the ANC by the regime. They fought for it and they won it in a victory over the apartheid state. They were opposed at every step of the way—brutally—by the regime and were too often let down by western Governments who put their economic interests first, blocked sanctions, applied the veto at the UN Security Council time after time during the ’80s and condemned Mandela as a terrorist.

It was only after years of civil resistance, often at appalling personal cost to the people of South Africa, that that resistance had made South Africa ungovernable. It was only when, despite the opposition from Governments including ours in the ’80s, sanctions had made South Africa more isolated internationally that the regime recognised it had no future. It was driven to the negotiating table by the uncompromising campaign led by Nelson Mandela and the ANC, and in the negotiations before and after his release he made no concessions.

Compassion, forgiveness and generosity were the characteristics of Mandela’s post-apartheid nation building, but it was his political vision, judgment and uncompromising determination that created the opportunity to build a new nation. Of course, Mandela could, as others have said, have led a revolution that simply turned the tables. As many have pointed out, he did not. Instead of revenge, he sought reconciliation. To honour his life, we should be learning from his values, seeking to build understanding and respect between communities, challenging at every opportunity the politics of hatred and division, committing ourselves to the cause of equality and justice, applying those values in our debates

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on domestic policy—on immigration and on human rights and when we consider our role in the world—and not making the mistake again of being on the wrong side of justice.

Standing up for those values, even when it is uncomfortable or when it is inconvenient, would be the measure of our tribute to Mandela.

5.4 pm

Sir Edward Garnier (Harborough) (Con): Having heard the contributions of two Prime Ministers, the Leader of the Opposition and a number of other senior Members of the House, I think my contribution this evening is almost superfluous. In fact, it probably is superfluous. But having heard the contribution of the right hon. Member for Neath (Mr Hain), I think my contribution is probably impertinent. However, I want briefly to give a little illustration of Nelson Mandela, the man not in the public eye, and perhaps to illustrate—others will know of him far better than I did—how that characteristic of disarming modesty and magnanimity, which has been spoken about so much this afternoon, came across to me.

In September 1990, just a few months after Nelson Mandela had been released, I was in Johannesburg, in the offices of the Johannesburg Star, discussing as a newspaper lawyer with the editor of the newspaper issues to do with freedom of the press and wider freedom of expression, to do with censorship and self-censorship, which the media in South Africa had either had imposed upon them or had felt sensible to impose upon themselves. There came a time when our conversation came to an end and I said to the editor, “Just across the street are the offices of the ANC. Do you think if I went in there and asked to see Mr Mandela, they would let me?” Whereupon the editor said, “Of course they won’t, but you might as well have a go.” So I went across the street, pressed the button on the lift and went to the top floor of the building, and the girl behind the desk in the ANC offices said, “Hello, can I help?” and I said, “Yes, I have come to see Mr Mandela.” She said, “If you sit there, he will be with you in a moment.” So I sat there.

After a few moments, Joe Slovo came out into the hall and said, “Hello. I gather you have come to see Mr Mandela.” I said, “Yes, I have.” He said, “Well, he will be with you in a minute.” He went back, and about 10 minutes later, Mr Mandela, Mr Slovo and a note taker—so reminiscent of our modern government—came into the hall and ushered me into a boardroom, where Mr Mandela sat at the end of the table, Mr Slovo sat on his left, I sat on his right and the note taker sat opposite. Mr Mandela said to me, “Welcome to South Africa. Thank you for coming to see me.” I said, “On the contrary, thank you very much—” and he stopped me and said, “You are not Dutch.” I said, “No, I am English.” He said, “Whoever let you in should be taken out and shot.” Whereupon he roared with laughter, gripped me firmly by the hand and said, “Let’s talk. Who are you? What are you here for?” I was not a Member of Parliament; I was simply a jobbing lawyer across the road at the Johannesburg Star, who had taken an opportunity that Mr Mandela, as a former guerrilla, had thought quite witty.

I had 20 minutes with Messrs Mandela and Slovo, and during the course of those 20 minutes I learned a lot about human nature and political forgiveness, and

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I learned a lot about that great man himself. During the course of our conversation, he told me that he now felt as much a prisoner of the expectations of the majority population of South Africa as he had of the apartheid regime while incarcerated. It had not occurred to me until he told me what a huge effort would be required by him to ensure that the new South Africa could be a peaceful and prosperous one. But I think it is fair to say—the right hon. Member for Neath will know more about all of this than I—that the South Africa that we see today, with all its imperfections and economic difficulties, would be light years behind where it is now were it not for the example, conduct and character of that most extraordinary man.

When I left that room, Nelson Mandela asked me what I was going to do in future years—I was not quite 39, so for him a youngish man—and I said I was hoping to become a Member of Parliament in the Conservative interest, and he said, “Well, make sure you send me your maiden speech.” I am afraid that I let him down; I did not send him the speech, but I think that if I had done so, he would have read it and probably written back to me—indirectly if not directly—to remind me of our discussion.

Some years later in the mid to late 1990s, when I was a visiting fellow at St Antony’s college in Oxford, President Mandela came to open a seminar and lecture room there. I thrust myself forward from the crowd of hundreds and introduced myself to him, saying, “Of course you will not remember when we met in your offices some years ago.” He said, “You’re quite right. Of course I don’t remember you, but it is very nice to see you.” One of our sort of politicians would have lied and said that they did remember, but he did not.

I realise that I am in danger of talking about myself rather than about Mr Mandela. I am telling this story to illustrate the fact that even though he could expect nothing from me, I had nothing to give him and I was a waste of his time in that meeting room in 1990—and I certainly was not the Dutch parliamentarian he was expecting—he gave me his time and, more importantly, he gave me his hand. I shall never forget that. He shook my hand and I shall be eternally grateful for that hand of friendship that he gave to me, a stranger. That is the man that I remember.

5.11 pm

Dr Hywel Francis (Aberavon) (Lab): It is a pleasure to follow the hon. and learned Member for Harborough (Sir Edward Garnier). I should like to place on record my thanks to you, Mr Speaker, for allowing me to be called early in the debate, and to apologise for my absence earlier in the day. I have not been particularly well but my doctor, Dr Grant, allowed me to come here because I insisted on doing so.

It is with great pride that I speak today not only as the hon. Member for Aberavon but as the Chair of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, whose work has been enormously influenced by the new free democratic South Africa. I have also been a member of the Wales anti-apartheid movement since its earliest days, and I want to pay tribute to my long-standing friend Hanif Bhamjee, who kept the movement going through the most difficult times. He should have been mentioned in Nelson Mandela’s speech in 1998 when Mr Mandela

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received the freedom of the city of Cardiff, but Hanif insisted that his name be replaced by that of someone of the same age and vintage as Nelson Mandela—namely, Bert Pearce, who was the general secretary of the Communist party in Wales.

Many tributes have been paid to Nelson Mandela, but to me the most striking was the one from his long-term adversary, F. W. de Klerk. He emphasised how important Nelson Mandela had been in convincing so many people, including himself, of the importance of the universality of human rights.

We all have particular memories of Nelson Mandela and, listening to the debate today, it has been striking to hear how diverse those memories are. My most important memory of him is my first memory, and it dates back almost to the beginning of Nelson Mandela’s journey, at the end of the Rivonia trial. I went with my father, who was the general secretary of the south Wales area of the National Union of Mineworkers, to Llandaff cathedral. Like many cathedrals and churches across the world, Llandaff had decided, under the leadership of the World Council of Churches, to hold a vigil through the night at which people would pray and show their solidarity with Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu and all the other African National Congress leaders who could be sentenced to death. It was our duty and privilege to be there, just as it is a privilege to recall that moment. Bishop Glyn Simon and Dean Eryl S. Thomas read from the New Testament through the night until dawn. That gathering was remarkable for its diversity of political opinion and faiths. There, in microcosm, was a kind of mirror image of the African National Congress: it was representative of the emerging Wales anti-apartheid movement, and all progressive opinion in Wales was there.

That was the beginning of the long journey that Nelson Mandela started and, we would like to think, of the journey for those in Wales and Britain who were in solidarity with him. The two most important social movements or institutions at the heart of that movement from beginning to end were the churches, led by the Welsh Council of Churches, and the trade union movement, led by the South Wales Miners Union.

My second memory is of two particular moments in Cardiff in December 1969, when Wales played the Springboks. First, when the main march came to the bottom of St Mary street, it met a separate march from the black community in Butetown, which unified with ours. It was led by the Cardiff International athletic club—the CIACs—with the banner that I understand was made specially for the occasion, and with one of its proudest members and sons, the late great Joe Erskine, the British and European boxing champion. Symbolically, the two marches unified at that point. A second, but sadder, moment was when one speaker said that it was a shame for Wales to have the people’s game played behind barbed wire. The one consolation was that there were more people on the demonstration than inside watching the match.

My third memory was of my late hon. Friend the Member for Aberdare and then for Cynon Valley, Ioan Evans, who did so much solidarity work in South Africa. He came with me to deliver a letter from the Bishop of Namibia in exile, Dr Colin Winter—he had been thrown out of Namibia for his solidarity work in support of striking miners there—urging the members

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of the Cwmbach male voice choir not to go to South Africa. I mention that choir’s name in tribute to them, because they eventually agreed not to go, and I salute them now, although I had never done so. I suppose that that is our little contribution to reconciliation.

Finally, I have a received memory, not a personal one. A matter of a few yards from this Chamber, the then Leader of the Opposition, Neil Kinnock—he played an enormous part in the anti-apartheid movement in Wales and Britain, and internationally—welcomed Nelson Mandela to the shadow Cabinet room in 1990. It was very striking that Nelson Mandela paused and looked at a particular Welsh miners’ banner that had been made in 1961, a year after the Sharpeville massacre. It was in the brilliant, beautiful colours of the African National Congress—black, green and gold. Importantly, the banner showed a white miner shaking hands with a black miner, with a miner’s lamp shining between them to symbolise the light of the world. I had arranged for the banner to be there, and I had insisted that the Welsh slogan, not the English one, was shown. Nelson Mandela was puzzled by the slogan, “Mewn undeb mae nerth a heddwch”—in unity there is strength and peace—and he asked about its significance and meaning. Neil Kinnock replied, “You will understand when I tell you that that is the banner from the South Wales miners. That is the Abercraf miners’ banner.” Neil said to me, with pride, that Nelson Mandela had said, “I do understand.”

I will end by telling the House that it has been arranged for that banner to return to the shadow Cabinet room. I spoke to the librarian of the South Wales Miners’ Library, Sian Williams, earlier today and she is happy for it to be returned. I suggest that it should be returned on the condition that it stays in the shadow Cabinet room in perpetuity, irrespective of who occupies that room, as a salute to Nelson Mandela, his comrades in the ANC and our comrades in the Anti-Apartheid Movement who did so much to remove apartheid in South Africa.

5.20 pm

Sir Peter Bottomley (Worthing West) (Con): The House will want to join me in paying tribute to the hon. Member for Aberavon (Dr Francis) for his speech. If he will let me say something slightly less serious, I hope that the Labour party will go on enjoying that banner from now until kingdom come.

Today’s speeches make up a tapestry. Nelson Mandela was one of the first people I knew who argued for a non-racial South Africa—not a multiracial one, but a non-racial one. I ask this question as a challenge to us in this country: when will the colour of my skin be as important as, but no more important than, the colour of my eyes and the colour of my hair? We have not got that far yet.

By chance, I was young and in South Africa when the National party won the 1948 election. I was there at the opening of the Voortrekker monument. I had returned to this country when Smuts died.

I have a memory from 2002, during the Queen’s 50th anniversary on the throne, of going to the chapel at St James’s palace, where the tree with 54 leaves representing the Commonwealth members was unveiled. There, we saw the sight of Margaret Thatcher two places away from Nelson Mandela. It was one of those things that brings life in a full circle.

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Margaret Thatcher has been wrongly quoted as saying that Nelson Mandela was a terrorist. She may have said that the ANC was a terrorist organisation. Given that it was involved in sabotage, although it tried to avoid the loss of life, that was accurate. If one reads the book by Lord Renwick or his article in The Daily Telegraph today, one will see that her instruction to her diplomats was to try to get matters resolved. She certainly would not have sent Robin Renwick to South Africa as our ambassador if she had been supporting apartheid.

My father served as our ambassador to South Africa in the early 1970s. The only doubt about his taking the appointment came when the Prime Minister asked the permanent under-secretary at the Foreign Office, “Is Jim Bottomley so much against apartheid that he will be no use as an ambassador?” Shortly after that, my mother arranged for Sam Moseneke, the principal of one of the big schools in Atteridgeville, to come and stay in our house with three of his colleagues. They said, “Do you know, where we are from, we would not be allowed to stay in your house?”

One of the groups that helped to make a difference was the churches, or at least some people in the churches. I pay tribute to Trevor Huddleston, who was a colleague of my tutor, Harry Williams, in the Community of the Resurrection. Having been picked as a novitiate to succeed his predecessor in Sophiatown, he was observed by a young man, aged about 14, lifting his hat as a mark of respect to that young man’s mother. The young man was Desmond Tutu, who went on to make his great contribution to the movement before the transition to one person, one vote, and after that to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Oom Bey, or Beyers Naude, of the Dutch Reformed Church said that people had a greater duty to God than to man. He refused to backtrack when the Dutch Reformed Church declared that his view of apartheid was wrong. There are others whom I could name.

We have to understand that a minority of people in this country took an active part in trying to challenge what appeared to be accepted. This year, there have been three deaths, which have not been noted by most people, two of former Members of the House of Commons and one of a former Member of the House of Lords. The former MPs were Charles Longbottom, who was the MP for York, and Barney Hayhoe, who was the MP for Isleworth. Both were trustees of the Ariel Foundation, together with Maurice Foley and Dennis Grennan, who had been a president of the National Union of Students. Some argue that it was funded by tobacco money, others by the CIA, but what is known for certain is that it funded education in this country for many potential African leaders, from Kenya through to Southern Rhodesia. Such people were prepared to stand against the prevailing wisdom.

Occasionally, South African ambassadors—I would particularly mention Dawie de Villiers, the rugby player—would invite Members of the House of Commons, including Conservatives, to come and meet visiting South African politicians. I remember Ronnie Bell saying, I think unwisely—maybe it was a joke—that South Africa should not extend the franchise as it had not proved to be a very good idea in this country.