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Pages tagged "Free Speech"

Free Speech: how can we defend it? Join us in Birmingham on Monday 3rd October

On Monday 3rd October at 11.30 am, we are holding a fringe debate during the Conservative Party Conference about free speech. It is being held outside the secure zone, so a conference pass is not required to attend.

We are delighted that Nick Timothy, a Daily Telegraph columnist and a former chief of staff to Theresa May when she was Prime Minister, and Toby Young, founder and director of the Free Speech Union, will be joining our chairman, David Campbell Bannerman and me to discuss this important subject. 

Free Speech: how can we defend it?

Birmingham & Midland Institute, 9 Margaret Street, Birmingham, B3 3BS

Monday 3rd October at 11.30 am 

Will you please help us promote this event by sharing this post with family, friends, and on social media? And if you can make it, we look forward to seeing you next Monday. 

WATCH Andrew Allison in conversation with Mark Littlewood, Director General of the IEA

Our Head of Campaigns, Andrew Allison, chatted with Mark Littlewood, Director General of the Institute of Economic Affairs about the now aborted European Football Super League, what future the economy has post-Covid, and free speech & cancel culture.

Click on the image below to watch it. 

Andrew Allison in conversation with Lee Anderson MP

Andrew Allison, Head of Campaigns at The Freedom Association, talked with Lee Anderson, Conservative MP for Ashford about the former red wall seats, free speech, cancel culture, and even about having a vegan pint of beer!

Why you should set-up a Freedom Society in your university

Andrew Allison, Head of Campaigns at The Freedom Association, talked to William Yarwood, President of the University of Exeter Freedom Society, about why the society is important and successful, and why there should be freedom societies in every university in the UK. They are easy to set-up and The Freedom Association will assist you every step of the way.

Please consider setting-up a Freedom Society in your university today. 

Method Behind the Madness

By David Campbell Bannerman, Chairman of The Freedom Association 

Has the world gone mad? A proposed assault on personal freedoms with a 6pm curfew designed to keep women safe. Not from some nutty fringe group, but from a Member of the House of Lords – Baroness Jenny Jones – and endorsed by the SNP’s international engagement spokesperson MP Hannah Bardell. 

Excessive policing of a vigil, not even a protest, but then with extremists hijacking it for their own extreme agenda. The supposed female arrested was actually an actress and activist. The police rightly had to protect Churchill’s statue from a mob shouting abuse at the police officers. Gatherings have been made illegal in these exceptional Covid times when we are meant to be all confined home, but enforced randomly it seems by Mayor Khan and Commissioner Dick. They stand back for BLM or extreme Left causes, and pile-in to those opposing lockdown or honouring the murdered Sarah Everard. 

Statues covering all aspects of our history are suddenly being damned or torn down with the say so of a few insistent and determined individuals, representing extreme elements in our society. Our great ‘traditional’ institutions – such as universities, the National Trust, English Heritage, and even Kew Gardens, are suddenly panicking and doing idiotic things such as questioning Churchill’s legacy at Chartwell or attempting to rename plants with potential slavery connotations. Potty indeed. 

A valued Duchess and her captured Duke are declaring war on the Royal Family with hearsay evidence and plenty of erroneous claims with the Media lapping it up and blasting it globally. The TV and radio are full of victims all being oppressed by the State, and demanding redress and special treatment, talking in strange therapist terms of ‘empowerment’ and ‘white privilege’ and ‘taking ownership of’, with presenters setting them up and cheering them on. People have been forced to resign for the tiniest remark seen to be a little controversial, or even ridiculously non-controversial on examination, just not in fad. Even the term ‘BAME’, which seems duly respectful, is suddenly out of fashion and inappropriate.

We now have a new Hate Crime Act in the United Kingdom, which criminalises thought and opinion at the dinner table; which encourages condemnation of adults by the words of their own children, as encouraged by Hitler, Stalin and in the pages of ‘1984’. Big Brother Yousaf of the SNP and his acolytes are watching and innocent speech and expression are now under serious threat in Scotland. The largest Arts Festival in the world with such diversity of expression, now subject to thought police. 

This is the politics of the mob. Of the Witch Hunt. As I learnt from TFA’s excellent ‘Cancel Culture’ webinar, it seems that social media is a big part of this, as it allows very personalised instant attacks on a person or organisation, for them to be ‘cancelled’ or shunned, in the old vernacular, like a virtual mob circling a house of an accused witch. No evidence of being a witch was needed to burn them in those days other than people feeling threatened. Twitter I know to be very direct and personalised – there is no real firewall protection apart from blocking. The SNP nats are adept at ‘pile ons’. 

It is tempting to dismiss this all as a mad, mad world. Perhaps even occasioned by enforced isolation due to Covid, but I fear it is actually not incidental but part of a sinister, deliberate and dangerous attempt to tear down our society, and destroy it from within. There is a plan. 

A cultural war is an easier battle to win than an economic or political one for Marxist revolutionaries. Because culture is malleable; it is not guarded in constitutions, in laws, in verifiable analysis and data. It is handed down from family to family, generation to generation, and is open to question and attack. Chairman Mao saw this in China – the Cultural Revolution may have inspired today’s events. This is a transatlantic movement as with BLM reciting US slogans and a US-style race problem the UK does not have. Favoured expressions of yesterday suddenly become unacceptable. 

Now the very term ‘woman’, incontestable before, is deemed unacceptable to use. Biden’s Democrats are seeking to outlaw its use there. The world must be turned on its head to safeguard the rights of binary people or transgenders. This is not to disrespect either group, it is just about maintaining a proper balance. 

What was thought acceptable 20 years ago is suddenly offensive now. Look at all those creepy warnings now put by the BBC on golden TV episodes that were mainstream and funny not so long back. Health warnings on ‘Fawlty Towers’ for ‘offensive content and language’; ‘Dad’s Army’ for its ‘discriminatory language’; and ‘Little Britain’ taken down because of one of the characters. Are snowflakes so easily offended?

Indeed, where has our humour gone? Monty Python stars are now lucky not to be damned or banned on university campuses. Everyone lives in fear of one ‘unacceptable’ joke ending a career or friendship. Political Correctness is a malign influence that seeks to make us all so self-regulated we all lose spontaneity or wit from fear of saying the wrong thing. The fear of damnation, with the Witchfinder Generals on the prowl. Hard-Left elements who seek to damn at the slightest error. We are becoming increasingly serious and contained. 

This regime is at its height now in universities, which routinely disrespect free speech and free opinion, and are marching through our institutions like that famous domino wave. The police have ‘taken the knee’ to hostile crowds. Big tech is politically correct to some extreme, rigorously now closing down or silencing all, seemingly beyond their ‘Woke’ sense of ethics. If you ban a President, as in Trump, who one may not agree with and take exception too, but is one of the greatest elected representatives in the free West, as Twitter has done, then who is safe? 

Then there is Hollywood. Highly insecure – Los Angeles is rich in fortune tellers – and obsessed with image and fortunes and fads, it is hardly surprising how Meghan Markle’s views are so well received there as she is a representative of it. ‘Me Too’ was all very well, but how many leading names in Hollywood knew about Weinstein, who was treated like its Royalty, but chose to stay silent because careers and money were at stake? Now awards ceremonies like the Oscars or BAFTAs are at risk of being degraded into a tick-box PC-driven exercise seeking to represent minority groups sufficiently. 

The intent of all of this in my view – the evil minds controlling this – is to cause chaos in our society, as the Frankfurt School proposed through critical theory, in order to make it weak, confused and introspective. That way it is easier to make it fall. 

They take valid causes – such as a vigil for a young woman tragically murdered after a late-night walk or for a flawed black individual killed unjustly by police choking (black lives do indeed matter) and they turn them into extreme anti-State, anti-Police, anti-White, anti-Establishment, anti-majority demonstrations. They are prepared to trample over the causes and people they purport to represent, and justify this all by being part of a wider Revolution – the destruction of Capitalism and Liberal Democracy. 

It is time we all saw the very real dangers in what is happening and come together to expose the reality and to fight it all the way. The Freedom Association should take a lead on such a fight back, and is well placed to do so. Let’s organise!

Writing 'Rule Britannia' gets an Aberdeen University student banned from the Students' Union 

By Andrew Allison, Head of Campaigns

It's almost as if we are living through the Last Night of the Proms debacle from last year. I am sure that you remember the BBC's decision not to include the traditional patriotic songs during the last night, although the corporation performed a U-turn after receiving pretty much universal condemnation. 

Now we find out that a 19-year-old student, Elizabeth Heverin, was banned from the Students' Union for two weeks because she wrote 'Rule Britannia' during a debate about the British Army’s presence on campuses. As we are all too well aware, it doesn't take much to deprive someone of their freedom in many universities. Another student accused her of using "discriminatory or racist language". Aberdeen University is a "demilitarised campus", and members of the armed forces are barred from recruiting students. They can't even visit the campus or attend events. 

Miss Heverin told the Telegraph that "it feels like I’ve been prosecuted for the crime of being patriotic. It’s scary to think where freedom of speech at the university will go from here." Quite. 

This is yet another example of cancel culture, the restriction of free speech, and a general intolerance of differing views and opinions. Where will this end? If we don't take action, we will all find ourselves at the bottom of a slippery slope where life resembles Gorge Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four. Please remember that Orwell was issuing a warning, not providing a blueprint. 


Photo Credit: Bill Harrison. Licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Cancel Culture claims two more scalps

The reverberations of the Meghan and Harry interview with Oprah Winfrey are still being felt. Piers Morgan, who I rarely agree with, has been forced out of his job on ITV's Good Morning Britain for not believing a word that Meghan said. I wouldn't have phrased it in the way he did (you really can't say that someone who says they were struggling with their mental health and was feeling suicidal is lying about it), but there were many inaccuracies in her version of events. She said that she couldn't find any help for her mental health issues, yet her husband along with his brother set-up Heads Together which unites eight mental health charities, including Mind. Harry could have picked up the phone and could have spoken to a variety of people in order to seek help for his wife. That story doesn't ring true to me. And when Meghan said that they were married privately by the Archbishop of Canterbury three days before their wedding at St George's Chapel, Windsor, without any witnesses, it is so obviously untrue that it doesn't warrant any further comment. 

But the purpose of this piece is not to go through a granular critique of that interview. Piers Morgan, just like all of us who live in a free society, has a right to say that he doesn't believe Meghan's account of her life as a working member of the Royal Family. This is what free speech is all about. And it wasn't as if he wasn't challenged on Monday morning by his co-presenter. He was and a debate ensued. This is how it should be. But that wasn't good enough for his woke former bosses at ITV.

During 'that' interview, Prince Harry said some British tabloids were "racist" and "bigoted". That is his opinion which he is entitled to express, but he must have realised that he would be challenged. Ian Murray, the now former Executive Director of the Society of Editors, did challenge that opinion. An ITV presenter, Charlene White, who was due to present the 'British Press Awards' on behalf of the Society of Editors, pulled out of the event saying that they should find "someone whose views align with yours" to replace her. Since then Mr Murray has been forced out of his job. 

Exercising one's right to free speech does have consequences. Others will challenge you and that is entirely correct. All Piers Morgan and Ian Murray did was push against what was said in a television interview which has been broadcast around the world. The idea that Meghan and Harry should not be challenged and that those who do should be forced out of their jobs is both authoritarian and illiberal. It is also very dangerous. It is part of the agenda of some people on the left who will defend those with whom they agree, but as for those they dislike and with whom they disagree, they should be metaphorically thrown under a bus and never heard of again. 

I am reminded of the famous poem by Lutheran pastor, Martin Niemöller:

First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist

Then they came for the Socialists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist

Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist

Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew

Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me

I profoundly disagree with Communists and Socialists. I am not a great fan of most public sector trade unions. I don't care if you are a Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, or if you are agnostic or are an atheist. I am a Christian and accept that anyone has a right to criticise my religion, and if any Christian wants to ban criticism of Christianity, I will stand-up for the rights of others. I defend the right of anyone to exercise their free speech rights without the risk of being cancelled.

Free speech is not important in a free society - it is the bedrock of a free society. If we forget that, and allow those who want to shut down debate to win, the consequences will be catastrophic. We will no longer be able to describe ourselves as a liberal, free democracy. 

Nick Buckley has been reinstated as CEO of Mancunian Way

From Andrew Allison, Head of Campaigns

I have just received an email with the title, "Common sense wins the day!". It's not often I hear that these days. Here is the email in full from Mike Smith who organised the petition to get Nick Buckley reinstated as CEO of the charity he founded, Mancunican Way:

"It is with great pleasure that I can announce that Nick has been reinstated as CEO at Mancunian Way charity.
The trustees have all resigned, a new board has been appointed and Nick is back at work from this morning.

"Nick has asked me to say a huge thank you to everyone who signed the petition. It put the trustees under additional pressure and highlighted the injustice in this case.

"If you want to continue to follow the story of Nick Buckley, then follow him on social media at @ NickBuckleyMBE on most platforms."

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Rugby Club bans man for life for criticising Black Lives Matter

By Andrew Allison, Head of Campaigns

On Monday, I wrote about Nick Buckley, the former CEO of the charity Mancunian Way (which he founded) who had been summarily fired from his job by the trustees for criticising the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. And today I have a story which has been reported in the Welsh press about a man who did something similar and has now been told by his local rugby that he is no longer welcome. 

Wales Online doesn't reveal the name of the man, however, a quick Google search produced the "offending" tweet. 

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Nick Buckley must be reinstated as CEO of Mancunian Way

It is a sign of the times. If you don't subscribe to a left-wing, woke orthodoxy, you are beyond the pale. You shouldn't hold any role in public life, and even if you are not in public life, you should still be fired from your job. You are an outcast. You are the lowest of the low. You can't possibly criticise the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. All they want is racial equality. What's wrong with that? There is, of course, nothing wrong with that. Indeed, it is what everyone should want. But if you delve into BLM, you discover a sinister movement which should be scrutinised. 

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