Former speaker of the UK House of Commons John Bercow delivered a speech at the Free Iran World Summit on July 1, 2023. The summit took place at the Headquarters of the National Council of Resistance of Iran and was attended by hundreds of world leaders and legislators, while the speech was broadcast live to thousands of demonstrators in Paris, members of the Iranian Resistance, and millions of Iranians around the world.
Below is the transcript of Mr. John Bercow’s speech:
I’m now delighted to introduce you all to a great supporter of the Iranian resistance with an unwavering stance on the need to end all types of dictatorship in Iran. Please welcome the former Speaker of the UK House of Commons, it’s the Right Honorable John Bercow.
Laura, thank you for the warmth and generosity of your welcome. Madam Rajavi, distinguished parliamentary colleagues, your excellencies, ladies and gentlemen here assembled in common cause in pursuit of the freedom too long denied the people of Iran. Let me tell you that I regard it as an enormous privilege to be invited to be amongst your number. An eloquent expression has already been given to the key verities, the inescapable necessities, the obvious messages that we have repeatedly to ensure percolated throughout the world if there is to be full awareness, full cognizance, full recognition of what is happening in Iran and of what needs to happen if change is to be achieved. And I want, if I may, ladies and gentlemen, one at all, to make three straightforward points.
First, as was eloquently articulated by former Prime Minister Stephen Harper earlier, change is within reach. It might seem difficult, it might seem challenging, it might seem uncertain, but it is vital to reiterate that essential verity that change is within reach and how wise and perspicacious Stephen Harper was to underline that the fact of brutality, the fact of tyranny, the fact of egregious human rights is not synonymous with the inevitability of their continuation. Just as the speed of modern communications is a striking phenomenon to behold, so too is the speed with which an apparently dominant regime built on sand can, must, and sooner or later will collapse under the impact of public pressure.
And of course, he sagely recalled that in 1978 those charged professionally at the CIA with responsibility for knowing what was going on, on the ground, no doubt innocently but foolishly misread the tea leaves and thought that the Shah’s Iran was an island of stability and the country was not anywhere near to the prospect of decisive change. Decisive change occurred within a matter of months. So, too I remind you ladies and gentlemen it happened in the 1980s and the 1990s in Eastern and Central Europe. So too it happened not so long ago in Libya and so too it can, must, should, and will happen in Iran to boot.
But that leads me to that second point, which I must say ladies and gentlemen I regard as a council of despair and a shocking display of political cynicism by the murderous, thuggish, bestial regime in Iran. The notion of TINA. TINA standing of course for there is no alternative or no alternative that won’t immediately breed or mutate into chaos. Why do I say what shocking cynicism? Well, Khamenei and Raisi, and by the way, neither is fit to wipe the boots of anybody here present today, cannot begin to conceptualize still less to articulate a defense of their own record, their economic record which is disastrous, their human rights abuse which is egregious, their disregard for basic principles of good government, which is relentless and ongoing and therefore they are left with the pathetic, feeble, despicable fallback position of saying “we can’t really say much good about ourselves but there is no alternative but for chaos to ensue.”
And of course, it’s all about ladies and gentlemen, is it not, because as a rationale for this however despicable the battle of wills. It’s about the battle of wills ladies and gentlemen and I say the battle of wills because if they can persuade people who are not part of their regime to be numbed by the seeming inevitability of it all and to fall victim to the monstrous lie that “nothing can be done about it” well they are then two-thirds, three-quarters, nine tenths of the way to ensuring their own self-serving continuation in the appalling discharge of their responsibilities of office.
And of course, that argument segues neatly into what I’ll call, if I may so dignify it, which I probably shouldn’t, the appeasement thesis. The appeasement thesis. Well, they’re not very nice but we’ve got to appease them, we’ve got to acknowledge them, we’ve got to accommodate them, we’ve got to some extent for better or for worse to accept them. None of those things is true! Not for a moment. And we’ve had some inspiring and sagacious words today.
I hope ladies and gentlemen I will be permitted as a Brit to remind you of what the late and great Sir Winston Churchill had to say about appeasement in the 1930s in respect of a government then led in the 30s but very badly by his own party. This is what Churchill had to say before thankfully the country had the benefit of his services in time.
There we see my right honorable friend the Prime Minister on the front bench pursuing his policy of appeasement. Resolved only to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all-powerful to be impotent.
Ladies and gentlemen it was a council of despair then and it’s a council of despair now and it’s a council of despair that we should unhesitatingly reject!
Former @HouseofCommons Speaker John Bercow: There is an alternative of over 40 years preparation that is well organized, that is soundly structured, that is adequately resourced, that is conceptually coherent…#OurChoiceMaryamRajavihttps://t.co/fmmd4sdxmA
— NCRI-FAC (@iran_policy) July 1, 2023
Of course, change is possible if those who are the victims of the present barbarism will that change. Whatever our politics here and I see people from my own country who held distinguished office on both sides of the political divide none of us is likely to say that the resolution of political problems is easy or quick. Indeed some problems are intractable. They’re not simple. They’re not without complications or ups and downs. But what is simple is the choice between a government chosen by the people and a government imposed upon the people.
And on that central principle of whether you have a free political system or not you cannot frankly impale yourself on a spiky fence or not without very considerable risk to your own person and to a great many others besides. There is of course an alternative. There is an alternative of over 40 years of preparation that is well-organized, that is soundly structured, that is adequately resourced, that is conceptually coherent, and is led with indefatigability, with indestructibility, and with inexhaustibility by Madame Rajavi.
And what a piquancy there is, Madame Rajavi, about the fact that up against this brutal, vicious, inhuman, and misogynistic regime, there stands a movement led by a woman who is an example to the world and deserves its support.
I mentioned Winston Churchill a moment ago. Please excuse my bluntness, ladies, and gentlemen, in saying that in pursuit of change, in the endeavor to free the people of Iran as they wish to free themselves of the awful incubus and albatross of their present government, we must all resolve to support them at every turn as our American friends from both sides of the aisle so inspiringly did a few moments ago and as my colleagues in the House of Commons, you might see in front of me, on both sides of the divide continue to do and we must go on doing so. Again, echoing Churchill, by resolving that we will keep buggering on. We will not concede, we will not abandon you, we will not fall short, and we will speak up and speak out as you do and as you fight for your birthright.
Too many people in Iran have suffered too much for too long with too little done about it. That must change and I, Madame Rajavi, I think in common with everybody in this hall today, have absolute confidence that you are the person with that blueprint for a civilized society in the form of the Ten-Point Plan who can offer real hope of a better, decent, prosperous, life-enhancing future for the people of Iran.
Thank you very much indeed.