Cycling the Liberation Coast

On this special day I wanted to share a short film I made during the second day of my first cycle tour of Europe, which started along the Liberation Coast of Normandy. This seemed to me the right place to start an exploration of our relationship with Europe and I spent many subsequent days exploring that relationship visiting numerous World War memorial sites as well as many other points of conflict, as well as those places that brought cooperation and celebration. I heard the last post in Ypres and cycled along the retreat route to Dunkirk, rode the liberation route through Holland to Arnhem, cycled through the Rhineland and Bavaria, visited the birthplace of Adolph Hitler and the death camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau. I cycled to Maastricht and Strasbourg, Brussels and Schengen (a tiny village which borders three countries). This is an important day to celebrate the end of that war but also to remember the decision that people made next. To vote for something better. Returning soldiers and those who had suffered on the home front gave the Labour Party a mandate to revolutionise Britain, to create a more equal, fairer society. They did it, and it changed the lives of millions of people, many of them like me who would not have had the access to opportunity we subsequently enjoyed. So I thank the soldiers who fought for all our freedoms, including my Grandad, who crossed the deserts of Northern Africa and the dusty soils of Southern Europe and survived to be a father to my mum. I thank all those who used that courage at home and voted to change our world. And I thank the politicians like Clement Atlee, Aneurin Bevan and Ellen Wilkinson who took their patriotic socialism and delivered radical imperfect change

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