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Successful year for Humanists UK at Conservative Party Conference

Justice Secretary David Lidington at Humanists UK’s conference stand, along with Andrew Copson.

From Sunday to Wednesday, Humanists UK signed up hundreds of new members and supporters during the exhibition at the Conservative Party’s annual conference in Manchester, far exceeding the amount of support seen before. The event represented the conclusion of a successful conference season for Humanists UK, which also attended the Liberal Democrats and Labour conferences and had an affiliated stand and fringe events at all three.

Humanists UK had two fringe events at the conference. The first, a drinks reception held jointly with Conservative Humanists, featured newly elected All Party Parliamentary Humanist Group Chair Crispin Blunt MP speaking on the essential nature of Humanists UK’s campaigns work, including the need for legal recognition of humanist marriages and to reduce religious discrimination in school admissions. Humanists UK’s Chief Executive Andrew Copson also spoke.

Andrew also chaired Douglas Murray, who gave the 2017 Holyoake Lecture in Friends Meeting House to an audience of over 200. From a right-wing perspective, Douglas spoke on the theme of ‘Towards a humanist politics’, the same title used by Owen Jones when he delivered last year’s Holyoake Lecture from the left. Douglas declared that ‘for all the countries I’ve been to around the world, I’ve never been to one and thought to myself, this place could do with fewer humanists – and in fact, most of them could do with a great deal more’. He identified humanists as having a vital role to play in ensuring the state is secular in nature, particularly singling out religious discrimination in schools as a cause for concern. As intended, Douglas’and Owen’s lectures together show that there are many areas of agreement for humanists from across the political spectrum.

In addition to its fringe events, Humanists UK had a stand in the conference’s main exhibition. Humanists UK representatives were able to speak to Justice Secretary David Lidington MP; Communities Secretary Sajid Javid; Chair of the 1922 Committee Graham Brady MP; and many more parliamentarians besides.

During her leader’s speech, Theresa May committed the UK Government to introducing opt-out system of organ donation in England. Such a change, now to be consulted on, would lead to a dramatic increase in the number of organs donated, saving many lives. Humanists UK has long campaigned for this change.

Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson commented, ‘We were greatly supported at the Conservative Party Conference, signing up more members or supporters there than in any previous year.

‘We work with politicians and individuals within all the political parties, through the All Party Parliamentary Humanist Group, and through our affiliated groups the Conservative Humanists, Labour Humanists, Humanist and Secularist Liberal Democrats, and the Green Humanists. This was reflected in our presence at three conferences and we will continue to work in this cross-party way.’

Notes

For further comment or information contact Richy Thompson, Director of Public Affairs and Policy at richy@humanism.org.uk or 020 7324 3072.

At Humanists UK, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. Our work brings non-religious people together to develop their own views, helping people be happier and more fulfilled in the one life we have. Through our ceremonies, education services, and community and campaigning work, we strive to create a fair and equal society for all.

Humanists UK recently changed its name from the British Humanist Association: https://humanism.org.uk/2017/05/22/bha-becomes-humanists-uk/

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