As we come up to the General election in the UK it is crucially important that we identify some key issues. Theresa May has said that we are fighting for our values and she mentioned democracy and pluralism as key values. But she did not mention freedom of speech.
History shows us that we loose our freedoms one at a time if we are not careful and that those who do not care for these values will seek to persuade us that FOR OUR OWN SAFETY we need to abandon those cherished freedoms. Romans lost their democracy when they gave it up for protection against a temporary threat and never got it back again.
Throughout all the years of the Cold War we never prevented anyone from learning about marxism or communism. We prided ourselves that we allowed views that fundamentally conflicted with the government’s agenda to be freely expressed. Marxism was openly taught at universities. We did not strip members of the Communist Party of their nationality. The nuclear armed Soviet Union was considerably more powerful than ISIS and carried out systematic espionage against this country (as we did against them). If we look back we can ask ourselves: how would banning the teaching of communism have helped us?
Her speech after the COBRA meeting today (4 June 2017) that this is all about ideology is taking the British public for fools. The jihadist are not fighting against democracy. They don’t have it. Not only that: we have been largely responsible for their not having it for decades through our support for repressive regimes in the Middle East. But my concern here is not for the people in the Middle East or for our errant policy in respect of that oil rich area. My concern is for us here and now in the UK.
Theresa May has suggested that ‘enough is enough’ – that no safe haven will be allowed for the expression of views considered ‘extremist’ – but who will decide the boundaries? Queen Elizabeth 1, who was genuinely threatened with invasion, conspiracies and coup d’etats (remember ISIS is not threatening the country or our government itself in any military manner) said ‘I will not open windows into men’s souls’ but our current Prime Minister says she will not only open windows into our souls but will enter, search and detain (for mere thinking). Is this not an extreme form of terrorism? How do I know if my thoughts are too extreme for Mrs May or not? Is she not proposing to fight terror with terror but not calling it such? We are being asked to abandon our centuries tradition of freedom of speech in order to defeat an Islamic ideology- to give up our key values in order to feel safe where there is no evidence that the proposed repression will have any effect on future terrorist activity. When men no longer fear but seek death what can the threat of punishment do?
The Prime Minster said we should fight the enemy together and then proposes that minor acts should be disproportionately punished if they can be seen to be supporting ISIS ? How can we have minor acts of terrorism? Or is she saying minor infringements of harsh laws such as reading ISIS material on the internet should lead to long custodial sentences? This is going to make us safe? Is this not clearly separating communities? A white Protestant reading ISIS material is unlikely to be visited by MI5 so we all know Theresa May who you have in mind. Is this a prelude to introducing a regime that would make McCarthy look like an old-fashioned liberal?
I really care about our values , our lives , our traditions. I care about our freedom of speech and our tradition of justice and I am not willing to give them up because some nutter runs amok in the street. Nor should you!