Our right to free speech is under siege

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Our right to free speech is under siege

David Hardy argues that there is an ever-growing divide between Britain’s ruling political elite and its citizens. Unrest and dissenting public voices are being met with increasing intolerance, says David Hardy.

‘Every nation gets the government it deserves,’ so said the French philosopher Joseph de Maistre. If this is indeed the case, one is tempted to ask just what has the British public done to deserve the current crop of politicians who claim to represent their interests. Apathy and ingrained aversion to political change apart, what else could the British people possibly have done to deserve the patronage of what are little more than political lightweights and charlatans?

Since details of the Telford grooming scandal broke last week, the reaction – or more accurately lack of reaction – from the British political establishment has been nothing short of bewildering: stern sanctions await – not for those who engage in this disgraceful behaviour – but for those wishing to deliver more than just platitudes by way of response, and most certainly for anyone wishing to delve any deeper into this horror than beyond the level of the superficial. Grooming: The crime that dare not speak its name, at least as far as British parliamentarians are concerned.

Several high profile female politicians of the #MeToo feminist solidarity movement from across the political spectrum were so incensed by events in the Shropshire town, they took to Twitter to express their ire. Members of Parliament such as Stella Creasey, Caroline Lucas and Anna Soubry immediately tweeted their heartfelt outrage.

Their anger, however, was not directed towards the perpetrators of these horrific crimes; nor has it been directed at the Shropshire constabulary or social services who, for the sake of diversity, appear to have turned a blind eye to crimes including the rape and murder of schoolgirls.

No, the sisterhood’s outrage was directed elsewhere, to other less awkward targets. For having the temerity to ask how and why these crimes had been allowed to continue for so long, Stella Creasey aimed her fury at Jo Williams, the Spiked online journalist who had dared to ask such a politically incorrect as well as inconvenient question.

‘Shame on you for using what has happened to the women of Telford to create clickbait for Spiked Online,’ bizarrely tweeted the Labour MP for Walthamstow. Twitter users who pointed out that 11 and 12-year old girls are not ‘women’ were promptly blocked by the erratic Creasey.

Green MP Caroline Lucas chose a different target upon which to vent her fury, but one just as soft, if not softer than online journalists. Members of the public who believed they were owed any kind of explanation as to how this abuse could ever have happened were denounced as belonging to ‘the far right.’

Anna Soubry was just as incensed as her left-wing sisters. The Conservative MP for Broxtowe was angry alright, but not with the agencies whose job had been to protect under-age girls from some of the UK’s poorest and most vulnerable communities; nor was she particularly angry at a political class that has sat back and effectively facilitated this horrendous catalogue of intimidation, fear and abuse.

‘I’m appalled that #Muslim families at #RoundhillPrimary #Beeston #NG9 have received hateful letters threatening & inciting violence,’ tweeted Soubry.

Perpetrators or facilitators, the ‘feminist’ MPs were not that interested in those who had carried out the abuse nor those who had enabled them. Soubry, Lucas and Creasey had bigger fish to fry: independent journalists, a concerned public – mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters (the ‘far right’) – and writers of highly dubious anonymous letters.

Meanwhile, Yvette Cooper had a busy week. When not tweeting non-stop about Britain First, National Action and ‘far-right extremists,’ the Labour MP and that most vocal of ‘feminists’ managed to catch her breath to join Soubry in condemning the anonymous letter-writers:

‘Appalling. Solidarity with all those targeted by these threats & racist incitement.’ Cooper labelled what she termed an outbreak of ‘Islamophobia’ as ‘vile.’ There was, however, one hashtag conspicuous by its absence from Cooper’s timeline: Telford.

While Soubry and Cooper – Tory and Labour – were both ‘appalled’ by some letters of uncertain provenance, neither politician could seemingly muster up enough anger to show their ‘solidarity’ to the young girls and families of Telford. It’s almost as if Telford never happened. Britain’s ‘feminist’ members of parliament seem to want to believe as much.

As for Theresa May, she’s far too concerned fanning the flames of yet more Russian conspiracy theories to spare a thought for the victims of Telford and other places. Anti-Russian rhetoric is in vogue in Westminster, hadn’t you heard?

Imagine living in Putin’s Russia, exclaim our chattering classes. Imagine living in a dictatorship!  Yet it’s Theresa May’s politically correct Britain of 2018 where, should you express the ‘wrong’ opinion, then your job, career, reputation and prosperity can be irrevocably damaged if not destroyed. Nevertheless, for a craven political class eager and willing to expel 23 diplomats based on nothing more conclusive than ‘probabilities’ and ‘likelihoods,’ Russians are heaven sent, a distraction behind which the weak and feeble take refuge.

Reaction to events in Salisbury is just the latest instalment of a worrying trend in British public life. Rather than tackling real issues, politicians prefer to spout platitudes. Action, when it does finally arrive, is invariably directed at the softest of soft targets.

In the last few days, a Scottish social media personality has been convicted by British courts of posting a ‘grossly offensive’ video of his pet pug allegedly performing a Nazi salute. In times gone by such a stunt would have been snapped up by television where it would have taken its place among hundreds of other silly home movie clips on shows like Animals Do The Funniest Things. Some would have laughed, others grumbled about bad taste. No longer. The gentleman in question has been under police investigation for the past two years . . .

This sinister development follows the recent arrest and subsequent detention of political activists at British airports. Their crime? To wish to exercise the right of freedom of speech. The right-wing activists in question had been simply planning to speak. Until that is, the British establishment stepped in.

No doubt fuelled by an overwhelming sense of their own impotence and pusillanimity, in common with cowards throughout history, the British political establishment has set its sights entirely on soft targets, the softer the better. For cracking down on soft targets is always the first port of call of the spineless, the gutless and the ineffectual. In the space of just seven days, Britain’s political class has revealed its true nature.

Displaced aggression is a common psychological phenomenon described by Freud and others in which aggressive (or critical) behaviour is redirected from a formidable to less formidable target. ‘Displaced aggression,’ according to iResearch.net, ‘occurs when it is impossible or unwise to respond aggressively toward the source of the provocation or frustration.’ Political platitudes explained then, but by no means surmounted.

Desperate to hide its culpability regarding the febrile atmosphere it has created, Britain’s political class responds to public anger – most of it entirely justified – not by engaging, debating or even modifying, but by upping the ante even further. Politicians simply double down. The slide towards tyranny thus continues apace, a very vicious circle.

Trouble is brewing. The British people are getting angry. ‘Traitors’ and ‘treachery’ are words used with growing frequency in relation to politicians who seem ever more remote, ever more contemptuous and ever more authoritarian. How much longer till legitimate criticism of a corpulent political class becomes yet another ‘hate crime?’ For rather than addressing the legitimate concerns of the British population, the current generation of politicians seeks instead to accuse, harass and criminalise dissenting voices.

So where then does this leave us? To where does the public turn when their elected representatives treat them as enemies? To where do people turn when the political class starts to wage war upon them? To a potentially very dark place is where we go – everybody, each and every one of us.

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    David Hardy
    A university lecturer by profession, David Hardy-Sedgwick writes about a wide range of topics including Theatre, Politics and Formula One. His latest book, 'BBC: Brainwashing Britain?' has just been released on Amazon. In his spare time, he enjoys marking student dissertations, wild camping, Croatian language and culture, and theatre.
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