Tuesday, June 09, 2009

A Slippery Slope?

In ancient Rome, the person of a 'Tribune of the Plebs' was inviolate but that didn't prevent the murder of Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus.

Republican Roman politics was of course a nasty and frequently murderous business with some minor parallels with our own party politics in Britain today. However and in principle at least, Plebian Tribunes, as the people's representatives, were supposed to be immune from the threat of personal violence:

"Their sacrosanctity was enforced by a pledge, taken by the Plebeians, to kill any person who harmed or interfered with a Tribune during his term of office. All of the powers of the Tribune derived from their sacrosanctity. One obvious consequence of this sacrosanctity was the fact that it was considered a capital offense to harm a Tribune, to disregard his veto, or to interfere with a Tribune."

I have no love of the BNP which is, in my opinion a political aberration. However, today's scenes outside Westminster. where BNP leader and European MEP, Nick Griffin was assaulted by members of the UAF -'United Against Fascism - group, may have been well-intentioned but was, I believe, harmful to our sense of democracy.

Who is to decide who can or who cannot speak in our country? After all, 'Speaker''s Corner' in Hyde Park has been an institution for over two hundred years. If we deny the right of any of our democratically-elected representatives the right to speak then our own democracy is the loser and a dangerous precedent is set. All such action encourages is greater sympathy and more publicity for the BNP; achieving the very opposite of what sensible political debate and lucid argument can achieve in revealing their racially divisive policies for what they are.

The right to demonstrate peacefully is a sign of a strong democracy and Nick Griffin should be allowed to speak unhindered by egg-throwing and placard wielding demonstrators from the UAF. After all, he will argue that we allow other small extremist groups to march unhindered through our streets, calling for the murder of our own soldiers or Holocaust Denial. By preventing his democratic rights as an elected MEP - no matter our own personal thoughts - we risk provoking the growth of the very extremism that politicians of all parties and their supporters should be working tirelessly to avoid.

"Freedom of thought and freedom of speech in our great institutions are absolutely necessary for the preservation of our country. The moment either is restricted, liberty begins to wither and die..." John Peter Altgeld

9 comments:

Michael Child said...

Simon the BNP had a small victory in the European elections but I am afraid the fact that they were prevented from speaking to the press in what we thought once was a democracy was a great victory for them.

Anonymous said...

I do not understand why Nick Griffin was outside Westminster in the first place - he has not been elected for the House of Commons so his press conference should have taken place in Brussels or Strasbourg surely?

ascu75 aka Don said...

I do not like them but the freedom of speech is a two way street and a street that is open to all shame on those who ignore it

Ken Gregory said...

No one has a right to take the egg pelting course, but I suspect that this will not be the last event like this. I would suggest that Mr BNP will hang himself by his own actions and statements. After all the residents of the Uk are intelligent. But Then were the residents of Germany when Hitler came to power

Call me Infidel said...

Strange how the UAF were ready and waiting for him equipped with eggs. One wonders what the police response would have been if someone had pelted comrade Brownstainovich the Great Leader with eggs. I doubt they would have sat back and allowed it to happen.

Griffin is an odious oik, but allowing one group of fascists to pelt another with eggs is simply unacceptable. The police should have stamped it out. What will happen next time if a bunch of Griffin's bully boys are in the audience? I supsect we will have riot on our hands.

Anonymous said...

Our own Council Leader has problems of his own. He is apparantly suffering from severe constipation.

He has a Dr Bores head stuck up his arse!

Anonymous said...

Where was this UAF MOB when a group of Islamic exstremists were protesting against British soldiers that came home from Iraq?

Where were they when former terrorist Gerry Adams MP spoke in the very same spot in front of the House of Commons?

Where were they when a very brave Peter Tatchell stood up to Robert Mugabe's mob on his own?

I don't agree with far right politics anymore than I agree with extreme leftists politicians such as George Galloway MP or the Terrorist made good , Gerry Adams MP

BUT at least the likes of George Galloway MP, Nick Griffin MEP and Gerry Adams MP are democratically elected politicians, unlike the "thought police" rent-a-mob that want to deny the electorate the right to make up their own minds.

It seems that these so-called protesters would create an East German style state run by "the thought police" if they had their un-democratic way.

We need need to be afraid of this un-democratic self-righteous MOB more than we do Gerry Adams MP, Nick Griffin MEP and George Galloway MP.

Jim
Ramsgate

tony flaig bignews said...

Well put!

Sorry to see ECR has gone it to his self righteous mode, in which he makes himself look like right er

Eastcliff Richard said...

That's good coming from 'more chips on his shoulder than Peter's Fish Factory' Flaig!