Burnley MP Antony Higginbotham column: A time to reflect

Holocaust Memorial Day takes place every year on January 27thHolocaust Memorial Day takes place every year on January 27th
Holocaust Memorial Day takes place every year on January 27th
This week we commemorate the Holocaust, remembering the millions who lost their life under the brutal Nazi regime.

A stark reminder of the evil that can be committed by man in circumstances that are hard to put into words.

Holocaust Memorial Day, which takes place on the January 27th each year, is an important opportunity for people from Burnley, Padiham and across the world to reflect on the darkest times of European history.

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Because as the Holocaust moves from living history, to history, it becomes ever more important that we take the time to remember the six million Jewish victims who were murdered; and also to pay tribute to the survivors.

Wednesday marked the day when 76 years ago, Soviet troops liberated Auschwitz-Birkenau; the infamous concentration camp which saw over 1.1 million Jewish men, women and children murdered by the power of the state.

One of 23 extermination camps which were established throughout Europe during the war, with the sole aim of exterminating an entire people.

The scale of evil and terror is hard for us to comprehend. Making sure that the next generation know of these atrocities is the best way to prevent history repeating itself.

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And that’s why last October I spoke of my support for the delivery of a National Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre to be built in Victoria Tower Gardens; adjacent to Parliament.

It will serve as a sobering reminder, next to the heart of our democracy, of our shared duty to stand against anti-Semitism, and all other forms of hatred and prejudice.

It is also a sad reality that anti-Semitism and hate is as prevalent as ever.

Earlier this week, ahead of Wednesday and following the launch of the Government’s Online Harms White Paper, I met with the Jewish Leadership Council, Anti-Semitism Trust and Community Security Trust to talk through online hate.

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Sadly, there are Jewish people across the country who continue to suffer abuse online and offline, for no reason other than their faith.

And as we all know, there are now corners of the internet which have become a haven for fringe groups, hate and more.

Not just anti-Semitism, but islamophobia, homophobia, extremism, bullying and sadly much more.

It is vital that we tackle this in a way which ensures the internet remains a safe place for those who use it, taking down hate and extremism, whilst also balancing this with free speech.

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The Government’s Online Harms White Paper proposes a number of radical reforms for this, striking this balance sensitively whilst placing an obligation on large technology companies

to better moderate their platforms.

Turning to the vaccine roll-out, incredible progress continues to be made.

As of Wednesday the NHS, the armed forces and thousands of volunteers have worked together to administer more than 7.3 million doses, including the vast majority of care home residents.

That means we’re well on the way to offering a vaccine the top four priority groups by mid-February, covering all those over-70, our NHS and care staff, the Extremely Clinically Vulnerable and care home staff and residents.

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Supplying any new vaccine, with a complicated manufacturing process, was always going to be difficult.

I have, however, received assurance from both the NHS and Department of Health that Lancashire will receive all of the doses it needs to get those four groups done.

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