What would Clement do?

A Labour blog that witters on about Clement Attlee. Hurrah for The Major!

Archive for the tag “Liberty”

FREEDOM OF SPEECH

The freedom to think what you like, and to express those thoughts, whether in print, on film, in speech or art without fear of censorship, imprisonment, torture or death. That to me is what free speech means.

Why is this so hard for some religious people to understand? My advocacy of evolution, or of Atheism come to that, should hardly cause a believing Christian, Hindu, Jew, Muslim, Sikh or anyone else much heartache, other than perhaps regret that I may be punished at some future date by their respective deities.

In the space of barely seven days we have seen blood shed against a pretty bad film  (by all accounts) that has offended some clerics in the middle east who have not seen this film. We have seen some christians in The Hebrides protesting that an award-winning evolutionary scientist and author is coming to their book festival in Lewis. And once again, a wealthy muslim fundamentalist organisation has put a bounty on the head of Salman Rushdie.

These despicable acts of repression have been met with hand wringing by those on the liberal left who still have the decency to object to the curtailment of our freedom of conscience, which is after all enshrined in the U.N. Human Rights Charter. Yet outside of novelists and media types, where are the big battalions of politicians willing to defend our right to be offended? Who will stand up for the individual who dares to say what they believe to be true, even if they are mistaken?

Politicians of left and right keep as quiet as the grave, not daring to say a word to power.

Defence of each of the three subjects does not mean that you agree with any of their arguments, or like their work, or want to invite them to tea. What it does mean is that you are willing to defend their and your right to liberty of thought. There is no argument that can be made for the fanatics and fundamentalists who, like wealthy libel lawyers, infest the earth with one purpose – to shut you up and keep you ignorant. No argument citing “cultural sensitivities’, “provocation”, “islamophobia” or “atheist fundamentalism” can hold any sway when the shedding of blood of people with absolutely NOTHING to do with film production takes place.

There is no justification valid under the Sun for any of the actions that have taken place – it is not “western imperialism”, “cultural imperialism” or any other such nonsense that idiots of the western far left and despotic clerics of the middle east parrot to stock outrage.

This is a sad state of affairs for anyone to observe. We need to be stressing that religious tolerance, a keystone of our society, in no way means a cowardly subservience to religion.

MORE WEDDINGBALLS…

Everyone wishes Kate and Wills a wonderful day, and long, happy marriage. My auntie will be up from Cornwall on the big day, to celebrate with the millions who wish to celebrate with the happy couple.

Yet see how quickly apoplectic our ever loyal (bugging aside) media have become when it comes to the very thought of a small expression of free speech on the big day…

Camden Council have refused permission for a street party next Friday, perhaps the only council in England to do so. The party, organised by the pressure group Republic, was meant to be perhaps the one place in London on the 29th where those who are against the idea of monarchy (not the monarch herself) could gather and celebrate all that makes them proud of Britain in their way. Camden is nowhere near the procession, nor within yelling distance of  the great and the good.

Stung by recent mishandling of student protests and peaceful occupations, not to mention the Inquiry into the G2o 2009 protests in which Ian Tomlinson was killed, The Met are looking forward to using draconian powers to stop anyone they don’t like the look of from going to the parade.

Hands up anyone who either A; Trusts their judgement?

or B; Believes that these powers will be suspended after the wedding? 

Westminster Council will try to use its powers to stop soup kitchen deliveries in the area at least 48 hours before, and will no doubt try to enforce this permanently. I doubt that Kate and William would see this as a fitting tribute – hungry homeless people, but there you go, its not their fault.

A tiny number of Anarchists may try to demonstrate on the day, apparently “spoiling it for everyone” by exercising their (and your) democratic rights. But hold on – we have a long tradition of protests at national events;

During George V’s Silver Jubilee, East London Young Communists hung a banner over the procession route proclaiming “Twenty-Five Years Of Hunger And War” – a fair point in 1935.

In 1977, The Sex Pistols’ “God Save The Queen” reached number two in the charts, possibly number one if the conspiracy theories could ever be proved correct. I was six at the time, and busy waving the Union Flag and eating ice cream…

At the wedding of Charles and Diana, one left wing weekly had the headline “Big Ears Marries Noddy” – the best front page they ever had.

The Coalition are using this event to their own ends – the cuts are provoking a great deal of anger, so this wedding is being used as a cover to throw our liberties in the dustbin. No doubt this bunch of inadequates will also be using the week to push through nasty legislation that they know we won’t like.

The Tories used Andrew and Fergies’ happy day to get the Poll Tax on the statute books. 

The shenanigans surrounding this binge are evermore tawdry, and a day of happiness is being turned into a day of awkward shame by Dave, Nick and Boris. Thank goodness they will have no say in mine and Lady Ps…

Strange Days Indeed…

It is a strange time for looking at the world. As we sit here in our comfortable western world, Libyan freedom fighters are dying by inches in public. A coalition of the unwilling – comprising “anti-imperialist” far leftists, reactionary Muslim clerics and Bismarckian conservatives across Europe are contending that to do nothing is the finest of all options.

I find myself in agreement with anyone who proposes a no-fly zone at the very least. I never thought I would end up agreeing with David Owen, and to a certain extent David Cameron.

Unlike Iraq, there is a clear mandate from the oppressed peoples of North Africa and the Middle East. In Bahrain today, the Saudi occupation gathers pace. In the U.N, those sterling advocates of tyranny China and Russia stymie any meaningful action through the Security Council. Again, the West and Western Values lose ground to the vigorous Capitalist Autocracy model of the East. If we do not act now, and with great conviction, we stand to lose all hopes of influence across the third world, and we condemn its peoples to the whims of any dictator that Bejing fancies.

Most peculiar mama…

Egypt – Don’t Surrender the Square!

As I write, men and women thousands of miles away face a terrible choice between liberty and personal safety. I sit here, safe in a Democracy where I can think whatever I want, and express those thoughts relatively freely.

In contrast to the relatively childish issues in my last post, I hope that anyone here in London will understand the seriousness for all concerned. So in a spirit of solidarity, and with humility at the bravery being shown in Cairo and Alexandria, and also across the Middle East, I have to say do not give up. Do not relinquish the Square or the streets, and stand together.

Mubarraks’ goons have been seen entering the square, and have been starting fights against anti-Tyranny protesters. The Army let them in, and seem to be holding the ring, rather than opting for one side or the other. These soldiers are waiting inside their American tanks, unsure of what to do.

Those of us who hoped for a revolution along the lines of East Germany and Czechoslovakia in 1989 can see that the issue hangs in the balance – we could see another Romania, or worse, Tiananmen.

The Tyrant Mubarrak last night took the step of promising to relinquish power in September, and to bar his son from standing in his stead, if only everyone would get off the streets. Today we see the other side of his strategy – divide the opposition, and provoke a wave of violence, allowing him to claim to be a force for order, rather than the vile oppressor he truly is. Around the world we can see his plans for what they are, no doubt so can his people. The Army, which has little or no training in crowd control, was welcomed with open arms when they replaced the vicious riot police. Those who remember Northern Ireland in 1968 will remember the British army in a similar position.

To the ordinary soldiers in Cairo and Alexandria today I say do not waver, do not turn your guns on your people – keep them on safety, and earn the eternal gratitude of your mothers and fathers, sons and daughters.

Mr Cameron looked very fine today on Downing Street with The U.N. Secretary General, talking about “clearing a path” and other guff, but we know that the only two powers that could matter here would be the USA, who bankroll Egypts Armed Forces, and Israel, who must stay silent.

President Obama has to clearly side with the forces of Liberty, or else the whole west stands to lose the goodwill of the Egyptian people, and very probably the whole of Arabia. We in Britain are little more than sideshow players here, and have been (rightly so) since Suez.

So I call on the decent people of Egypt – do not fall for Hosnis tricks, stay united until he goes – sooner than later. Stand firm, or the criminal forces of the NDP will sense a weakness, and go for the kill. Take heart that all over the world – in New York, in Edinburgh, Berlin, Tokyo, Johannesburg, Mexico City, millions are with you.

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