Banning EDL marches, or being careful what you wish for


2:01 pm - February 9th 2011

by Owen Jones    


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If you were a genuine democrat at the turn of 1937, you would have been scared. Fascism was on the march across Europe. Italy had fallen first; German Nazism had shut down the world’s greatest labour movement; a fascist-backed military coup against Spain’s left-leaning government had plunged the country into a nightmare civil war.

Here in Britain, Oswald Mosley’s Blackshirts – backed by the likes of the Daily Mail – were loudly agitating for a fascist government on the European model. So perhaps you would have backed the Conservative Government’s Public Order Act, signed in to law on 1 January 1937.

Ostensibly, it had been aimed squarely at the Blackshirts in the aftermath of the iconic Battle of Cable Street. Among other things, it required police consent before political demonstrations could take place and banned the wearing of “political uniforms” in public.

You may not have realised that the Public Order Act would end up being used against the left. In the 1970s, it was used against pro-Irish Republican demos. During the Miners Strike of 1984-5, it was used against flying pickets.

More broadly, it established the precedent of state interference in protests. Wondering how we ended up with cops imprisoning 14 year old school kids in freezing temperatures for 8 or 9 hours? The Public Order Act is as good as any place to start.

This is a warning from history, because it shows what happens when you start asking the state to use its power against those who could be deemed political undesirables. If you set a precedent, how do you know it won’t end up being used against you next time?

The dramatic rise of the virulently Islamophobic English Defence League has provoked understandable fear throughout the left. When they have marched through town centres, they have been intimidating (particularly to British Muslims), and participants have been heard yelling racist abuse.

That’s led some on the left to call for their marches to be banned, most recently in Luton, and before that in Birmingham.

Back in October, the Government actually did ban them holding a demonstration in Leicester.

I think it is a mistake for the left to demand that the state steps in and bans any form of demonstration. In the aftermath of the student protests that began in November, it is far from beyond the realms of possibility that left-wing demos will be banned – it’s already been mooted. If a genuine mass movement against the Government gathers steam, it will be the left on the receiving end of repressive measures.

Under the last Government, we saw how authoritarian legislation was, in practice, used in a far more wide-ranging way that originally claimed. Anti-terror laws have repeatedly been used against protesters – including octogenarian Walter Wolfgang for the crime of heckling Jack Straw. Even anti-stalking laws have been twisted to clamp down on the right to freely protest.

The answer to the EDL is not to run to the state like it’s some sort of neutral arbiter, giving it left-wing cover to chop away further at the right to protest. It is to confront head-on the grievances that the EDL feeds on: not least, the fact that working-class people in this country have been deprived of political representation.

So, next time an EDL demo gets banned, pause before you cheer: because it might be you next.

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About the author
Owen Jones is author of ‘Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class’, to be published by Verso in May 2011. He blogs here and tweets here.
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Reader comments


Yup, freedom of speech is not exclusive.

Agree with the sentiment.

More broadly, [the Public Order Act] established the precedent of state interference in protests. Wondering how we ended up with cops imprisoning 14 year old school kids in freezing temperatures for 8 or 9 hours? The Public Order Act is as good as any place to start.

Not really – see Peterloo for an infamous counterpoint.

I imagine the ‘state’ has interfered with protests since protests were conceived of.

Quite. Some people are either too scared or too enthusiastic to consider the consequences you describe. Probably the greatest wekaness the UAF have in trying to be a universal movement is this lefty authoritarian streak.

It has often confused me as to why so many people fail to realise that calling for bans on this, boycotts on that, censorship of the other not only results in no change in the protesters attitude to the issue – but also sets the necessary precedents to ban their own protests in the future.

Although Voltaire didn’t actually say: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”, we have ignored that lesson from the past and seem to have ended up in a weird world were to be offended by something is to justify a reason to call for a ban on it.

Don’t like a homophobic comment – ban it.
Don’t like a racist comment – ban it.
Don’t like a pro-religious comment – ban it.
Don’t like a political comment – ban it. Oh, hang on.

We run the risk of censoring the English language out of existence, and yet, unless you are a follower of the Orwellian view of language, the underlying opinions will still remain unchanged, but labelled as “thoughtcrime”.

Yup. Nice one Owen.

Here in Britain, Oswald Mosley’s Blackshirts – backed by the likes of the Daily Mail – were loudly agitating for a fascist government on the European model.

The Daily Mail famously pulled their support for the BUF in 1934 after the Olympia Rally. As the link that you give states:

“This support ended after violence at a BUF rally in Kensington Olympia later that year.”

Agree with the sentiments of the piece by the way.

Whilst I agree with the conclusion, I’m not sure I agree with the reasoning. Banning protest by people you don’t like isn’t a bad idea because it may be used against you in future, it’s a bad idea because it’s fundamentally illiberal.

I am fairly sure that Unite Against Fascism calls for counter – demonstrations against far right marches /”static protests” rather than bans on these marches for precisely the reasons Owen raises.

“Wondering how we ended up with cops imprisoning 14 year old school kids in freezing temperatures for 8 or 9 hours? The Public Order Act is as good as any place to start.”

No it isn’t a good place to start. Have you heard the term “breach of the peace”? A rather older than 1937 bit of law which gives anyone the power to intervene in order to prevent a breach of the peace.

I love Liberal Conspiracy, it has an air of ignorant authoritativeness about it.

Can’t disagree except

The dramatic rise of the virulently Islamophobic English Defence League has provoked understandable fear throughout the left.

Nonsense.

Most self-respecting lefties were left licking their lips at finding some more off message punters to out as racists and justify a few Saturday afternoons on the streets.

12. DisgustedOfTunbridgeWells

Agree with the general sentiment but it’s a lazy, cliche ridden, article.

The dramatic rise of the virulently Islamophobic English Defence League has provoked understandable fear throughout the left.

What ‘dramatic rise’ exactly? Is it anything like the ‘dramatic rise’ of the bnp and their 24 local councillors or whatever it is atm, oooooh terrifying.

Being implicitly backed by the right wing press != a ‘dramatic rise’.

Nor do the left particularly ‘fear’ them, from what I’ve witnessed, quite the opposite.

I’m not sure Dudley, Luton and Bradford councils asking the home secretary to stop the edl turning up on their doorstep and costing them and local businesses huge sums of money (though wetherspoons seem to do quite well out of it) can be attributed to any notion of ‘lefty authoritarianism’ – you really need to provide more evidence if that’s what you’re going to imply.

It is to confront head-on the grievances that the EDL feeds on: not least, the fact that working-class people in this country have been deprived of political representation.

Not knowing who is behind the masks, we don’t know what the social class makeup of the EDL is. But there is a fair chance that the EDL is a kind of working class representation, in large part.

Fetishise a social class and you will get terribly confused when its members disagree with you, or turn out to be as capable of evil as any other.

Tell a whole social class that they deserve more from one minority – the rich – and they might just think the same principle can be applied to other minorities too. Of course it doesn’t have the same justice. But identity politics doesn’t feed on an idea of justice, but on a concept of us and them.

Agree with the sentiments expressed in the article, but not the reasoning. It’s surely absurd to claim that the ‘Public Order Act’ was targeted at “the right” – the context was not that evil fascists were marching across the land whilst “the left” honourably defended freedoms, etc. etc. Rather, political organisations of left and right were taking to the streets across Europe to challenge the hegemony of the so-called democratic state.

The state doesn’t particularly care if the threat it faces is left, right, up or down; it cannot permit genuine freedom of expression and so legislative nonsense like this is dreamed up ostensibly to protect “freedoms” and “rights”…

15. john p_reid

apart from the last sentence this article is dross, as for inprisoning 14year olds in freezing temeratures, its crowd control it’s what polcei do to stop rioting,spot on blue eyes. the left fear the EDL ,well iv’e been a labour party member for 25 years and I support them, excpet from when they were singing Mohammed is a peado.

# 2 – Yes, I suppose what I meant was formal state regulation of protests since Britain has been a democracy. The Public Order Act introduced the principle of applying for state permission for protests to take place, institutionalising the idea of state regulation of protests.

# 6 – Fair enough!

# 8 – There is understandable support among the left to ban protests on the grounds that they incite hatred against religious minorities, and even threaten people’s lives. My point is that, while I understand their concerns, it ends up giving legitimacy for the state to clamp down on all forms of protest.

# 10 – As above, the POA institutionalised the idea of state regulation of protests, because you had to apply for police permission before holding a political march. We’ve seen pre-emptive kettling take place without any “breach of the police”: among the reasons given is that the protest broke with the supposedly pre-agreed route.

# 12 The BNP got a million votes in the 2009 Euro elections. That’s pretty dramatic.

# 14 The POA was introduced as a direct result of the Battle of Cable Street, and the arguments in favour of it were directed at the Blackshirts (that why it went on about ‘political uniforms’ in public).

“If you were a genuine democrat at the turn of 1937, you would have been scared. Fascism was on the march across Europe… You may not have realised that the Public Order Act would end up being used against the left.”

Perhaps I’m just being over-sensitive here, but surely I can’t be the only one to think that this article conflates being “a genuine democrat” and “being left-wing” to a degree that is not entirely justifiable?

@17; Wow. That’s a really hard-working ellipsis you’ve got there.

@16 Owen Jones

“# 12 The BNP got a million votes in the 2009 Euro elections. That’s pretty dramatic.”

Reason for concern and vigilance, yes; disappointing…. certainly; but dramatic….? Not so much.

They may have polled 6.2% of the votes cast, but only 15 million out of 45 million potential voters actually turned out. Their vote increased just over 1% from the previous European election. We’re not in Front National or Austrian People’s Party territory yet.

20. Shatterface

Damn straight.

Whatever the initial ‘justification’ for a ban once the State has a power it will find greater and greater use for it.

The EDL are a pathetic bunch of thugs but they are no danger to democracy. Banning protests, however, *is*.

# 17 – By ‘genuine democrat’, I meant those who were not the pro-appeasement right who were trying to drive Nazism eastwards; or Winston Churchill, for that matter, who said Mussolini had “rendered a service to the whole world,” showing, as it had, “a way to combat subversive forces”; and described the Italian dictator as “Roman genius… the greatest lawgiver among men.”

The left had more to fear from fascism because they were the ones being rounded up, imprisoned and shot in Europe at the time.

From the OP

The answer to the EDL is not to run to the state like it’s some sort of neutral arbiter, giving it left-wing cover to chop away further at the right to protest. It is to confront head-on the grievances that the EDL feeds on …

What if one of their ‘grievances’ was that one end of town (like Bury Park in Luton) was a bit of a no-go area for people like themselves (or so they felt)?

Where even the regular Muslims were either fundamentalists like the Salafis who run the mosque …….

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/video/2011/jan/17/muslim-resistance-struggle-within-video

…….or working class muslim youth who were sometimes antagonistic to people like them.

That is the claim made by their man on Newsnight talking to Paxman.

23. DisgustedOfTunbridgeWells

# 12 The BNP got a million votes in the 2009 Euro elections. That’s pretty dramatic.

The referendum party got 800000 in a general election, they’re as irrelevant as the (apparently bankrupt) bnp and the edl.

The only ‘dramatic rise’ associated with either entity has been in column inches.

@ 18:

“Wow. That’s a really hard-working ellipsis you’ve got there.”

I don’t think so. The article essentially says “Genuine democrats in 1937 would have supported this Act to stop the right-wing Fascists from taking over Britain. They wouldn’t have expected it to be used against the Left.” Which only makes sense if you assume that “the Left” cannot be anything other than “genuine democrats”, because otherwise, why wouldn’t they expect it to be used against the Left at some time?

@ 21:

“By ‘genuine democrat’, I meant those who were not the pro-appeasement right who were trying to drive Nazism eastwards;”

But why would such a person be so surprised at the Public Order Act being used against the Left, especially given that Communism also seemed to pose a threat to democracy in these years?

# 24 Firstly, because it was introduced specifically with the Blackshirts in mind. As for the rest of your points – although Western European countries had fallen to fascism, not a single one had gone Communist; but yes, you’re right, the right did fear Communism more which is why they were trying to drive the Nazis eastwards, and figures like Churchill were lauding Mussolini.

@16 – “The POA was introduced as a direct result of the Battle of Cable Street, and the arguments in favour of it were directed at the Blackshirts…”

You mean, that was the given reason (the excuse). Are you so naive that you believe it?

Next you’ll be telling me that the extraordinary powers granted to the state security services were wholly legitimately designed to prevent terrorist attacks by Muslim extremists…

It’s only ‘surprising’ that the state turns such powers on leftists, rightists, any expression of discontent whatsoever, if you were stupid enough to believe the spin when such measures were introduced.

“… although Western European countries had fallen to fascism, not a single one had gone Communist.”

Although the existence of the Soviet Union – and the commitment of British troops to fighting the red menace during the civil war years – would appear to rubbish your point. Not to mention the fact that several Western European countries had *almost* gone Communist.

You appear to have an extremely simplistic view of history.

#26 – It’s difficult to debate with you if you don’t engage with what I’ve written.

Of course I don’t believe it – I’ve just written an article pointing out that these sorts of laws ended up being used against the left. I was arguing against the idea that a democratic lefty was necessarily completely naive backing the POA given the arguments presented in support focused on the Blackshirts, and the fact that fascism was clearly the biggest threat to democracy in Western Europe at that time.

@27 – as I said, I agree with the sentiments expressed in the article. There’s nothing to debate.

I merely suggest that by confidently declaring:

“… the POA was introduced as a direct result of the Battle of Cable Street, and the arguments in favour of it were directed at the Blackshirts…”

And:

“… because [the act] was introduced specifically with the Blackshirts in mind.”

… you sound naive, in that you ascribe false legitimacy (if it is “legitimate” for western democratic states to oppose fascism; but not, say, communism) to the state, which only ever exists to perpetuate itself.

It’s only surprising when the state turns the machinery of coercion on leftist parties (and / or anyone else) if you actually believe in a narrative where states act against specific threats or interests – as you do, by lazily associating ’cause’ and ‘effect’ as above.

29. David Boothroyd

I note that yet again someone has mis-stated the facts about Walter Wolfgang. His ejection from the Labour Party conference after heckling Jack Straw was not an exercise of any Anti-Terrorism Act, but simply the right of any private meeting to eject someone who they no longer welcome. When this was done, Walter Wolfgang’s visitor’s pass was withdrawn and taken off him.

What got Walter Wolfgang arrested was that he then attempted to go back into the secure area without a pass. The whole conference had been designated for higher security under the Counter-Terrorism Act which allowed the police the power of arrest without suspecting criminal intent, and the fact that he was arrested under this power indicates that he was not actually suspected of being a terrorist.

30. So Much For Subtlety

21. Owen Jones – “The left had more to fear from fascism because they were the ones being rounded up, imprisoned and shot in Europe at the time.”

Well no. At the time more Leftists were being rounded up and shot in the Soviet Union by the Communists than were ever killed by the Fascists. As can be seen by the fact that the post-War East German Communist regime was made up almost entirely of people who had spent the war safe in Hitler’s prisons while Stalin killed most of their comrades in Moscow. Which is pretty much true for the rest of Eastern Europe as well. As for the Fascists, you were even safer in their prisons – Mussolini jailed a lot of the PCI’s leadership – Bordiga and Gamsci both for instance. Gramsci was sick when he went in and when his condition worsened, they let him go home. Luigi Longo was also jailed by the Fascists. No harm came to him at all. In the meantime, Stalin not only executed every single figure on the Right he could catch, he also liquidated entire Left wing parties in Russia – a policy he was soon to extend to Eastern Europe.

The biggest murderers of Left wing people have always been other Left wing people.

We cannot trust the state to police against fascism. Banning groups like the EDL wont make the problem go away, it will just push it underground.

Good article. Here is another view written by a Spaniard in 2008. I don’t wish to offend so have no objection to this being deleted if it does. I think we would all agree this id about more than just politics

ALL EUROPEAN LIFE DIED IN AUSCHWITZ

The following is a copy of an article written by Spanish writer
Sebastian Vilar Rodriguez and published in a Spanish newspaper on Jan.
15, 2008.

REMEMBER AS YOU READ — IT WAS IN A SPANISH PAPER
Date: Tue. 15 January 2008 14:30

ALL EUROPEAN LIFE DIED IN AUSCHWITZ By Sebastian Vilar Rodrigez

I walked down the street in Barcelona, and suddenly discovered a
terrible truth – Europe died in Auschwitz … We killed six million
Jews and replaced them with 20 million Muslims. In Auschwitz we
burned a culture, thought, creativity, talent. We destroyed the chosen
people, truly chosen, because they produced great and wonderful people
who changed the world.

The contribution of this people is felt in all areas of life:
science, art, international trade, and above all, as the conscience
of the world. These are the people we burned.

And under the pretence of tolerance, and because we wanted to prove to
ourselves that we were cured of the disease of racism, we opened our
gates to 20 million Muslims, who brought us stupidity and ignorance,
religious extremism and lack of tolerance, crime and poverty, due to
an unwillingness to work and support their families with pride.

They have blown up our trains and turned our beautiful Spanish cities
into the third world, drowning in filth and crime.

Shut up in the apartments they receive free from the government, they
plan the murder and destruction of their naive hosts.

And thus, in our misery, we have exchanged culture for fanatical
hatred, creative skill for destructive skill, intelligence for
backwardness and superstition.

We have exchanged the pursuit of peace of the Jews of Europe and their
talent for a better future for their children, their determined
clinging to life because life is holy, for those who pursue death, for
people consumed by the desire for death for themselves and others, for
our children and theirs.

What a terrible mistake was made by miserable Europe ..

The Global Islamic population is approximately 1,200,000,000; that is
ONE BILLION TWO HUNDRED MILLION or 20% of the world’s population.

They have received the following Nobel Prizes:

Literature:
1988 – Najib Mahfooz

Peace:
1978 – Mohamed Anwar El-Sadat
1990 – Elias James Corey
1994 – Yaser Arafat:
1999 – Ahmed Zewai

Economics:
(zero)

Physics:
(zero)

Medicine:
1960 – Peter Brian Medawar
1998 – Ferid Mourad

TOTAL: 7 SEVEN

The Global Jewish population is approximately 14,000,000; that is
FOURTEEN MILLION or about 0.02% of the world’s population. They have
received the following Nobel Prizes:

Literature:
1910 – Paul Heyse
1927 – Henri Bergson
1958 – Boris Pasternak
1966 – Shmuel Yosef Agnon
1966 – Nelly Sachs
1976 – Saul Bellow
1978 – Isaac Bashevis Singer
1981 – Elias Canetti
1987 – Joseph Brodsky
1991 – Nadine Gordimer World

Peace:
1911 – Alfred Fried
1911 – Tobias Michael Carel Asser
1968 – Rene Cassin
1973 – Henry Kissinger
1978 – Menachem Begin
1986 – Elie Wiesel
1994 – Shimon Peres
1994 – Yitzhak Rabin

Physics:
1905 – Adolph Von Baeyer
1906 – Henri Moissan
1907 – Albert Abraham Michelson
1908 – Gabriel Lippmann
1910 – Otto Wallach
1915 – Richard Willstaetter
1918 – Fritz Haber
1921 – Albert Einstein
1922 – Niels Bohr
1925 – James Franck
1925 – Gustav Hertz
1943 – Gustav Stern
1943 – George Charles de Hevesy
1944 – Isidor Issac Rabi
1952 – Felix Bloch
1954 – Max Born
1958 – Igor Tamm
1959 – Emilio Segre
1960 – Donald A. Glaser
1961 – Robert Hofstadter
1961 – Melvin Calvin
1962 – Lev Davidovich Landau
1962 – Max Ferdinand Perutz
1965 – Richard Phillips Feynman
1965 – Julian Schwinger
1969 – Murray Gell-Mann
1971 – Dennis Gabor
1972 – William Howard Stein
1973 – Brian David Josephson
1975 – Benjamin Mottleson
1976 – Burton Richter
1977 – Ilya Prigogine
1978 – Arno Allan Penzias
1978 – Peter L Kapitza
1979 – Stephen Weinberg
1979 – Sheldon Glashow
1979 – Herbert Charles Brown
1980 – Paul Berg
1980 – Walter Gilbert
1981 – Roald Hoffmann
1982 – Aaron Klug
1985 – Albert A. Hauptman
1985 – Jerome Karle
1986 – Dudley R. Herschbach
1988 – Robert Huber
1988 – Leon Lederman
1988 – Melvin Schwartz
1988 – Jack Steinberger
1989 – Sidney Altman
1990 – Jerome Friedman
1992 – Rudolph Marcus
1995 – Martin Perl
2000 – Alan J. Heeger

Economics:
1970 – Paul Anthony Samuelson
1971 – Simon Kuznets
1972 – Kenneth Joseph Arrow
1975 – Leonid Kantorovich
1976 – Milton Friedman
1978 – Herbert A. Simon
1980 – Lawrence Robert Klein
1985 – Franco Modigliani
1987 – Robert M. Solow
1990 – Harry Markowitz
1990 – Merton Miller
1992 – Gary Becker
1993 – Robert Fogel

Medicine:
1908 – Elie Metchnikoff
1908 – Paul Erlich
1914 – Robert Barany
1922 – Otto Meyerhof
1930 – Karl Landsteiner
1931 – Otto Warburg
1936 – Otto Loewi
1944 – Joseph Erlanger
1944 – Herbert Spencer Gasser
1945 – Ernst Boris Chain
1946 – Hermann Joseph Muller
1950 – Tadeus Reichstein
1952 – Selman Abraham Waksman
1953 – Hans Krebs
1953 – Fritz Albert Lipmann
1958 – Joshua Lederberg
1959 – Arthur Kornberg
1964 – Konrad Bloch
1965 – Francois Jacob
1965 – Andre Lwoff
1967 – George Wald
1968 – Marshall W. Nirenberg
1969 – Salvador Luria
1970 – Julius Axelrod
1970 – Sir Bernard Katz
1972 – Gerald Maurice Edelman
1975 – Howard Martin Temin
1976 – Baruch S. Blumberg
1977 – Roselyn Sussman Yalow
1978 – Daniel Nathans
1980 – Baruj Benacerraf
1984 – Cesar Milstein
1985 – Michael Stuart Brown
1985 – Joseph L. Goldstein
1986 – Stanley Cohen [& Rita Levi-Montalcini]
1988 – Gertrude Elion
1989 – Harold Varmus
1991 – Erwin Neher
1991 – Bert Sakmann
1993 – Richard J. Roberts
1993 – Phillip Sharp
1994 – Alfred Gilman
1995 – Edward B. Lewis
1996- Lu RoseIacovino
TOTAL: 129!

The Jews are NOT promoting brain washing children in military training camps, teaching them how to blow themselves up and cause maximum deaths of Jews and other non Muslims. The Jews don’t hijack planes, nor kill athletes at the Olympics, or blow themselves up in German restaurants. There is NOT one single Jew who has destroyed a church. There is NOT a single Jew who protests by killing people. The Jews don’t traffic slaves, nor have leaders calling for Jihad and death to all the Infidels.

Perhaps the world’s Muslims should consider investing more in standard
education and less in blaming the Jews for all their problems.

Muslims must ask ‘what can they do for humankind’ before they demand
that humankind respects them.

Regardless of your feelings about the crisis between Israel and the
Palestinians and Arab neighbours, even if you believe there is more
culpability on Israel’s part, the following two sentences really say
it all:

‘If the Arabs put down their weapons today, there would be no more
violence. If the Jews put down their weapons today, there would be no
more Israel.’ Benjamin Netanyahu

It is a matter of history that when the Supreme Commander of the
Allied Forces, General Dwight Eisenhower, found the victims of the
death camps he ordered all possible photographs to be taken, and for
the German people from surrounding villages to be ushered through the
camps and even made to bury the dead.

He did this because he said in words to this effect:

‘Get it all on record now – get the films – get the witnesses –
because somewhere down the road of history some bastard will get up
and say that this never happened’

Recently, the UK debated whether to remove The Holocaust from its
school curriculum because it ‘offends’ the Muslim population which
claims it never occurred. It is not removed as yet. However, this is a
frightening portent of the fear that is gripping the world and how
easily each country is giving into it.

It is now more than 60 years after the Second World War in Europe
ended. This e-mail is being sent as a memorial chain, in memory of
the, 6 million Jews, 20 million Russians, 10 million Christians, and
1,900 Catholic priests who were ‘murdered, raped, burned, starved,
beaten, experimented on and humiliated’ while the German people
looked the other way.

Now, more than ever, with Iran, among others, claiming the Holocaust
to be ‘a myth,’ it is imperative to make sure the world never forgets.

This e-mail is intended to reach 400 million people. Be a link in the
memorial chain and help distribute this around the world.

How many years will it be before the attack on the World Trade Center
‘NEVER HAPPENED’ because it offends some Muslim ?

33. The anti-cleanshirt

Again the Left demonstrates its deafness to it’s own hypocrisy.
Fu**king cleanshirts.

The whole conference had been designated for higher security under the Counter-Terrorism Act which allowed the police the power of arrest without suspecting criminal intent, and the fact that he was arrested under this power indicates that he was not actually suspected of being a terrorist.

Well that’s alright then!

Now tell the class why Austin Mitchell’s photographs were deleted.

I hate talking about the BNP or EDL, and raising an objection to these groups. Cause the kind of debate from people who are supportive of these groups or infact are members of these groups is pretty much being called some sort of middle class trendy lefty who ‘doesn’t understand the white working class of this country.’ Which is harder to accept when you are infact something you aren’t supposed to understand.

Still I love the fawning over these groups by the middle class leftys. As if you are going to get them back, they aren’t coming back, maybe you we should just concentrate of those from poorer backgrounds who still vote for vaguely left wing parties or …

…maybe I should join the EDL then I can hurl insults at some muzzies. Then someone will finally pay attention to me.

@ 35. hello ,,,,,,good point, worth remembering that Hitler led a National Socialist party. Hence my posting @ 32.

I know some of you will think I’m a mad for saying this but in my experience if you give the members of extremist groups air time the only damage they do is to themselves. There was a time not long ago when many of the centre right in this country would have said, re the BNP, something along the lines of ‘At least they aren’t sacred to speak out/they address serious issues.’ The wonderfully erudite (this is typed with a heavily sarcastic tone,) Nick Griffin appeared on Question Time, there was a huge furore that he was been given airtime but in reality after he made a complete twit of himself for a hour how many those previously sympathetic would say the same. Those that I work with came into work the next day embarrassed for their comments in the build up and pronouncing him and his party as irrelevant morons.

There was a concern that the 2010 election would prove to bring gains for them and thankfully this wasn’t the case. People could no longer pretend that they were a voice of reason calling out against the frightened many because seeing the squiffy eyed bigot given enough rope to hang himself made them realise exactly what he is.

I think this is the same for all extremists. When is Abu Hamza most powerful as a recruitment tool? When he is spoken of in hushed tones, cutting the figure of a romantic freedom fighter and shouted down by the media without even being heard, or on the few occasions he has been given a platform to spew a voice of hatred. I know which I think.

Take this genius talking about the BNP. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6TB2y2HLBho&NR=1
If you can be bothered to stick with him until the 3 ½ minute mark you will hear him speak such ‘truths’ as, the easiest way to spot a non English person is their colour, so does that make most of Northern Europe English?. He then tells us how Muslim’s, Sikhs and Budisms (I know it’s Buddhist’s I am quoting him) use British tax payer’s money to build Synagogues. As a British Jew I look forward to the day where we are all so united that people of these faiths help us build our places of worship. So either he is very forward thinking or a retard. Give them a voice and they will invariably use it to their own detriment and we can stand proudly next to the flag of freedom of speech for all.

“There is NOT a single Jew who protests by killing people”

Hebron Massacre 1994
Assasination of Rabin 1995.

@38. Planeshift

Anyone who claims that there has never been death in the name of Jewish Extremist’s is lying. However I think often when people say this it is to try and highlight that in all honesty, of the three Abrahamic religions the Jew’s have historically used violence/war less than the Christians or Muslims. It also doesn’t linger on the point that the Israeli Government redefines the phrase disproportionate response. (As a British Jew I realise that there is a difference for many Jews world wide between being Jewish and being Israeli.)

@25:

“Firstly, because it was introduced specifically with the Blackshirts in mind”

It may have been introduced specifically with the Blackshirts in mind, but anybody who thought that it wouldn’t be used on any threatening left-wing groups would have to be extraordinarily naive.

“although Western European countries had fallen to fascism, not a single one had gone Communist”

Czarist Russia had, and, as for the rest, Germany and Italy had almost gone communist (or had seemed to), and there was still a serious chance that Spain would go communist as well.

41. DisgustedOfTunbridgeWells

@37

Conceptually I agree, but you’re forgetting the response from the right to griffin’s appearance – yeah he looked a twat, but it wasn’t because he is a twat, it was because of the bbc hand picking the audience/not holding it in a bnp friendly area/him being generally being manipulated by some imagined metropolitan elite.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2009/oct/23/bbc-question-time-responses-griffin

Give them a platform, they’re victims.

Don’t give them a platform, they’re victims.

@ 41
I know that some took this response but the way I saw it is that they are type of people that would defend him regardless; I felt that his performance not only didn’t win him any new followers but more positively than that even made some that tacitly defended him pre his appearance embarrassed to do anything but deride him and his party.

I could be wrong and my experience of centre right in my colleagues and social circles is far from scientific but people I knew distanced themselves in way they hadn’t before.

43. Chaise Guevara

@ 8 Dunc

“Whilst I agree with the conclusion, I’m not sure I agree with the reasoning. Banning protest by people you don’t like isn’t a bad idea because it may be used against you in future, it’s a bad idea because it’s fundamentally illiberal.”

Spot on. Defending civil liberties isn’t about putting yourself into a tactically advantageous position.

I have less than zero sympathy for people who ended up staring in horror at the oppressive legislation they originally supported and wailing “but I never thought it would be used against the left!”

44. DisgustedOfTunbridgeWells

@42

Mmmmmm, that’s true, though you get the concern trolls – “well if they treat him that way it must be for a reason.”

I just think you have to consider that the weltanschauung of the right over the past century has basically been the subjugation of the ‘white man’ by Jews/Blacks/Colonials/Muslims/the Japanese in the early 90’s/ManbearpigTHISTIMEWEMEANIT and you can’t win either way. If you confront them you’re an elitist who sneers at the apparently uneducated savagery of everyone else and if you don’t it’s because you’re afraid of the shining truth that only they possess.

@ 44

In the words of that great philosopher Bart Simpson ‘ you’re damned if you do you’re damned if you don’t’

The same principle applies to laws that prohibit something on a technical basis (Dangerous Dogs Act, Misuse of Computers Act) or on the basis of identity (various football spectator acts). Well meaning law makers do not appreciate that their laws will be interpreted by less liberal people in the future.

There are lots of ancient laws that can be used to prosecute in the modern world where change creates the opportunity for a new offence. Occasionally, old laws need to be reviewed, but we rarely need more laws.

There is a possible exception for the Misuse of Computers Act which identified and closed gaps, but which also codified specific behaviour that was already covered in general by existing law.

can anybody actually tell me how the left is going to bring those (white working classes) who vote BNP or go on EDL marches back into the fold, and if it actually exsisted in the first place. I can’t think of anything really.

@ 47

You won’t bring the white working classes back into the fold. You speak a different language. Labour, whether old or new, is now for the die hards, middle classes and those of the older generation who don’t know how to vote for anyone else.

Even the die hards are giving up slowly, wondering why their party has abandoned them for people who have never done a day of ‘real work’, as they see it. When you talk to ex-shipyard workers in their 70’s who see the EDL as a possible new labour movement, rather than right wing thugs, you have to wonder who abandoned who.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Banning EDL marches, or being careful what you wish for http://bit.ly/ihopCU

  2. Michael Bater

    Very good! Banning EDL marches, or being careful what you wish for | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/GT4cXlQ via @libcon

  3. Ciaran McNulty

    RT @libcon: Banning EDL marches, or being careful what you wish for http://bit.ly/ihopCU

  4. petertarlan

    @libcon right to argue against banning EDL marches but for the wrong reason. A ban would be fundamentally illiberal http://t.co/Zzifvcu

  5. Chris Patmore

    RT @libcon: Banning EDL marches, or being careful what you wish for http://bit.ly/ihopCU

  6. Daniel Pitt

    RT @libcon: Banning EDL marches, or being careful what you wish for http://bit.ly/ihopCU

  7. Lee Clements

    The next time someone laughs at my "thin end of the wedge" argument. I'm just going to refer them to this: http://bit.ly/ihopCU. #fb

  8. Pucci Dellanno

    RT @libcon: Banning EDL marches, or being careful what you wish for http://bit.ly/ihopCU

  9. Victoria Hubble

    Banning EDL marches, or being careful what you wish for | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/OygwFO8 – Food for thought





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