Peter Divey believes free speech in England and Wales is increasingly under threat.
Free Speech in England continues to be increasingly limited. Speakers’ Corner is no more, unless your face fits unless the message is on side. Facts are not allowed if they are offensive. Offence is, of course, hateful, thus forbidden. This weekend an American and Austrian citizen were detained at Heathrow Airport and imprisoned. There will be no trial, it is a fait accompli.Their terrible crime? Speech, of a potentially divisive nature, likely to sow upset and division socially. But there was worse, an intention to “meet” Tommy Robinson, a known “extremist”. Since when was being an “extremist” a crime? John Redwood MP is an “extremist”, he holds to those terrible and divisive Brexit views. Brexit has sowed more division than 10,000 Tommy Robinson’s ever could. Both, of course, continue to be free men. The Mayor of London is more divisive than Mr Robinson. He too is of course still a free man. An Independent London? Nope, that incites nothing, divides no one.
It all depends on who you offend. Not how many. Nanny-State-ism. A Police State. Judge for yourselves. 200, 300, 400 personnel, more, are dispatched to Salisbury to deal with Spygate, meanwhile, back in London, you can steal from shops with impunity. The Mayor doesn’t have enough resources, just make sure you are sensible enough to limit your pilfering to a smidgen under £200. It is all about priorities, hence detentions and imprisonment of certain speakers. My Grandfather did not yield his life during the War for nonsense such as this. He will be spinning in his grave. Free Speech as he understood it is gone. The facts must be fact-checked, but not for truth, there is now a new weight and measure, a new prescription to meet. Niceness. What a farce. Otherwise, you may end up as a Political Prisoner. If you live next door to Mr Robinson, do not talk to him, a few words mumbled as you cut the hedge might be all it takes. He is an extremist don’t you know? And never “meet ” him…you will be slammed up quicker than a Russian language speaker in Salisbury. No trial. No comeback.
Something is badly off kilter here, all screwed up. The British Government are cowards. We cannot allow free speech if people will be upset if they are triggered. You may sow division, discord. The Peasants may riot. We cannot allow that. This way is easier, you do not have to confront the actual true menace. Speakers corner is not available to you. I say to the Government, Police THEM, the rioter, the violent. Do not cower before the real threat that is driving this backwards-looking policy, the tail wagging this particular dog. This is the Heckler’s Veto writ large, underwritten by the State and magnified beyond parody. I am calling it out. Do the right thing, not the easy. Bring Speakers’ Corner back. Across the Commonwealth, millions died fighting to preserve it.