Joel Joffe, one of the legal team which defended the late Nelson Mandela at the Rivonia Trials in South Africa 50 years ago, has made a statement in support of six principles drawn up by Better Swindon, a group of campaigners who have been calling on Swindon Council to make the way it is managed more open and transparent.
On 20 April 1964, Mandela, who was to become president of South Africa some 30 years later, and a group of ANC activists, were staring death in the face. Standing in the dock aware that he could be hanged for treason, the leader of South Africans’ struggle against racial apartheid made one of the greatest speeches of the 20th Century, declaring he was prepared to die for the cause of democracy. Watch a video of Mandela speaking and listen to memories of those who were there.
The judge delivered a sentence of life imprisonment on Mandela and his fellow activists until the apartheid regime fell apart and led to momentous change in South Africa after the prisoners were set free in the early 1990s.
Better Swindon was formed as a non-party political group in November 2013 to call for urgent reform to the borough’s standards procedures and the introduction of fairer consultation processes.
Since then there have been constructive meetings with councillors and officers to discuss how things can be improved in the council based on the six Better Swindon principles below.
Now Lord Joffe, who lives with the borough, has issued a statement: ‘Better Swindon has been founded by local people seeking to create positive change in the Borough of Swindon.
‘Belief, goodwill and determination are helping to build support in this non-political movement and I would encourage all local politicians to sign up and be prepared to be held account to the six Better Swindon principles.’
Lord Joffe and his wife Vanetta at the opening of Action – Abstract art from the Swindon Collection at Swindon Museum & Art Gallery in March. Photo: Richard Wintle of Calyx
The principles that Swindon councillors should stand by:
• being committed to raising standards in our town by supporting what is best for Swindon and challenging what is not;
• encouraging more open discussion and shared decision making;
• treating everyone as an important part of our town’s future by promoting openness, fairness and transparency;
• transforming the relationship between the council and the community to one of equality, trust and respect;
• expecting our elected representatives to act with integrity and to be accountable;
• promoting positive initiatives to improve the quality of life for the people of this town.