Police must protect free speech, even if it means defending the BNP

    Allegedly, the police at Westminster last week stood by and allowed the fascist beasts from Unite Against Fascism to assault the er fascist beasts from the British National Party.

    I have a suggestion for the police forces of Britain. Just as footballers are greeted with the words “This is Anfield” as they emerge from the dressing rooms to play against Liverpool, every police station in Britain should have this slogan in lights above the exits.

“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

French philosopher Voltaire is supposed to have coined this phrase, and it is a truly magnificent and civilised sentiment. Surely this is the mark of a humane and intelligent society that ideas of which we do not approve are still allowed to be expressed. There will of course be limits even to this right of free speech – as long as a political party refrains from supporting violence, it will be free to say what it likes about anything.

I listened to John Humphrys on BBC Radio 4 unable to keep the contempt out of his voice interviewing BNP leader Nick Griffin. Humphrys should have focussed on finding out what the party wants to do. Instead, Humphrys dragged up old canards about Griffin’s supposed holocaust denial. I wanted to hear about the issues in the election that led to people voting in two BNP Euro MPs. The panel on last Friday’s Radio 4 “Any Questions” also tried to avoid the issues, with Conservative Philip Hammond sounding just snobbish and aloof, rather than addressing the issues. Just what are they afraid of? Surely allowing some unsophisticated numbskulls from the BNP some airtime to express their views won’t bring civilised society to its knees? And I despaired, listening to the smug ignorance of Martin Smith from Unite Against Fascism answering feeble questions from Channel 4 anchor John Snow. Smith was allowed to emerge as some kind of hero for stopping the BNP having its say, when he should have been verbally attacked for using violence, and arrested by the police for doing so.

One of the problems generated by the British media, led by the BBC, is its refusal to understand exactly where the BNP, and fascists, are coming from. Calling the BNP an “extreme right-wing” party is ludicrous and defies all the evidence. Hitler’s fascists were socialists. They wanted state solutions to problems. Conveniently, Hitler called his party the National Socialist Party of Germany. I don’t think he deliberately used the word “socialist” to fool people; maybe the BBC thinks he did. The BNP wants to nationalise huge swathes of industry, stop globalisation, tax the rich until the pips squeak, stop free trade, boost trade unionism, and guarantee British jobs for British workers. Right wing parties like UKIP want less government, less taxation, free trade.

As Lord Tebbit put it so memorably, “the BNP is old Labour with racism”. It’s no surprise that the BNP attracts disaffected Labour voters, after all it has taken on board much of the baggage of old Labour. Surely that’s another large hint. If it was taking votes from the Tories, that might suggest it was right wing. But no, it’s taking lefty votes. UKIP takes Tory votes.

Sure, the BNP has unpleasant racial fixations, with BNP membership not available for Blacks and Asians. But as Griffin points out, that looks less sinister when you bear in mind that the Metropolitan Police has a Black Police Officers Association. Whites need not apply.

Which brings me back to the police; our police must defend the BNP’s right to express its political opinions. It must step in, stop and arrest the likes of Martin Smith and his fellow ignoramuses, if they use violence to stop political expression. If BNP policy oversteps the mark and supports violence, it is the police’s job to step in, not Unite Against Fascism, who, if they read any history, would find that any sensible definition of fascism would include them. Socialists who want to impose their views by violence are fascists.

If the police fail to do this, we will see violence similar to that in the 1930s, because if the BNP members are denied their voice, they are likely to think that they must resort to violence if they are to be heard.

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