Sunday, February 27, 2005

Livingstone backs Tories on freedom of speech

Ken Livingstone has a good sense of irony. To bolster support for his battle with the Standards Board over his concentration camp jibe directed at an Evening Standard Jewish journalist he prayed in aid Daily Mail columnist Andrew Alexander, quoting him in his statement of 22 February.

With considerable chutzpah he selectively quoted from the part that suited him. Here is what he said. To quote Andrew Alexander writing in the Daily Mail last week “Freedom of speech, if it means what it says, involves the right to irritate, annoy, dismay and shock anyone who listens. The only sensible limitations should be on speech which leads to violence, affray or disorder.”

What he left out was the first sentence in Alexander’s paragraph. This stated: "The threat to Livingstone comes in the wake of another threat to free speech in the Government’s new legislation to ban remarks which may stir up religious hatred."

Mr Livingstone is of course a prominent supporter of the new law on the incitement of religious hatred having published an open letter to the Home Secretary supporting this restriction of free speech using as justification: “Freedom of speech must be upheld. But not a freedom to urge people to kill Jews or Sikhs or Muslims.” Mr Livingstone knows that this is already against the law but interpretation of the legislation can be expected to impact upon his political enemies.

The mayor had earlier in his statement condemned the Daily mail group. This is what he said: “After a decade of pandering to racism against our citizens of Black and Irish origin they have moved on and now describe asylum seekers and Muslims in similar terms. For the Mail group the victims may change but the intolerance, hatred and fear pervade every issue of the papers.”

Mr Livingstone is now threatened by his own politically correct revolution but his conversion to even partial freedom of speech is gratifying. He went as far as to enthusiastically endorse the Conservative Party’s commitment to abolish the Standards Board. Mr Livingstone’s mayoralty may yet become a force for freedom.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Now Trevor Phillips backs a colour bar

Trevor Phillips the chair of the Commission for Racial Equality [CRE], now playing a central role in the debate about the UK’s immigration and asylum policy, said of a respected journalist who disagreed with him on this subject “Nice people do racism too.” He is at it again. This time Conservative leader Michael Howard meets with his patronising disapproval.

But he is right even if he hits the wrong targets. One of the most extreme examples of ‘nice people doing racism’ is his own campaign to impose a de facto colour bar on a constituency where white people now constitute an ethnic minority, in this case London’s West Ham.

This safe Labour seat that sitting Labour MP Tony Banks has grown tired of representing is currently selecting his replacement. It is in this racially hypersensitive community, that Mr Phillips, himself a failed Labour London mayoral candidate, has seen fit to intervene. Speaking to the BBC he said: "It would be terribly disappointing and pretty destructive, I think, for ethnic minorities' faith in politics if, in the least white constituency in Europe, we did not see an ethnic minority candidate.”

Mr Phillips wants to impose change. He now advocates colour bar legislation to let parliamentary parties exclude white candidates from consideration for selection to serve their community in the office of MP that in a free society should be open to all.

In the meantime his irresponsible employment of the ‘numbers game’ in West Ham goes a long way to delegitimise anyone selected should they have the ‘wrong’ colour skin and gives an appalling weapon to the BNP who specialise in racial grudge communitarian politics.

There is now a real danger that the CRE led by Mr Phillips and the BNP under Mr Griffin may be seen as just two sides of the same racist coin, both educated at our best universities and wearing smart suits but both with totalitarian inclinations