David Miliband delivers the 2nd Sir Martin Gilbert Memorial Lecture

On 24 October 2019 the Rt Hon David Miliband delivered the second Sir Martin Gilbert Memorial Lecture, a talk entitled ‘Brexit and the Anti-Liberal Movement’. In the intervening period, Brexit has been somewhat overshadowed by the global Covid pandemic, but Miliband’s words are a poignant reminder of the importance of clarity, accuracy and rigour when reporting on events, whether from decades and centuries past, or in real time.  

Miliband, who is President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, commented that in these extraordinary times there are ‘few cool heads, and so we especially miss Sir Martin Gilbert’. He continued: ‘Martin was an extraordinary Briton, a brilliant scholar with an open mind, a historian who thought about the future as well as the past, a writer who dealt in complexity but made things clear, and […] a patriot who was also an internationalist.’  

Expressing his deep unease about growing political polarisations, Miliband bemoaned the ‘war on facts by enemies internal and external.’ The proliferation of fake news in recent years – in politics and beyond – and the ready access and spread of unsubstantiated claims on social media would have similarly distressed Sir Martin, who dedicated his life to meticulous research and considered writing. Having worked at the juncture between politics and history, most famously as Sir Winston Churchill’s biographer, Sir Martin was acutely aware of how the two fields fed into one another. Only with a solid grasp of our history, distant and recent, can we have a balanced understanding of our political situation. This grasp is loosened with the unchecked spread of disinformation online. For this reason, and many others, the Sir Martin Gilbert Learning Centre prides itself on bringing the finest historical research to wide audiences in a balanced and informative manner. Never, and surely David Miliband would agree, has this been more important.  

You can view David Miliband’s full Memorial Lecture here: https://youtu.be/q1ra9NAacSE