The BNP and Free Speech

>I have to admit this article at the BBC causes me no little concern and disquiet. If it is to be believed then anyone who admits to an affiliation with the BNP be disbarred from teaching. At a fundamental level I believe this is both wrong and dangerous. Why?

First, the BNP will be able to use any such ban to peddle the line that the political classes are scared of them ‘telling the truth’ and that they are victims of an establishment that are trying to silence any debate on the ‘immigration’ issue (though we all know it’s a cypher for race). The argument that they should be denied ‘the oxygen of publicity’ just doesn’t hold water. Rather like the whole Sinn Fein debacle in the 1980’s, trying to pretend they don’t exist is doomed to ignominious failure, not to mention ridicule.

The second problem is more serious: how can anyone who is a member of the BNP be banned from anything? Last time I looked the BNP were not a proscribed organisation. Memebership is not illegal. They are a legal political party, allowed to take part in elections. I am very surprised that there has not yet been a challenge (to my knowledge) to the ban on BNP members in the police, for instance. One would think that this would contravene the principles in human rights law protecting freedom of expression and political association. In other words, a ban might simply be illegal. Given the BNP’s hatred of all things European I’d find it wryly ironic that they could be protected by law they hate.

There is an obvious solution. Anyone entering public employment should be forced to declare membership of any political party they belong to [this includes me, for example, who teaches in the university system]. Indeed, this is a small part of a wider problem, viz: if we want to show the BNP for the one-dimensional cover for other, less savoury groups they almost certainly are, then they need to be smoked out. If they want to be treated like a mainstream party, treat them that way. How?

  1. Force them to open up their accounts and fund raising activity. Where is their funding coming from? What are they spending the money on?
  2. Force them to engage in the political process. Let Jeremy Paxman loose on Nick Griffin. Let’s see what happens.
  3. Quiz them about policy. If they want to be seen as more than a one note rant, then let them prove it. If they can’t then they will be exposed as a shower of bellicose racist louts.

I don’t like the BNP’s message. I don’t like their attitude. I think that their whole political outlook is based on the lazy and mistaken premise that immigration is the single major issue facing British society now. But you know what, until membership of the BNP is illegal you can’t arbitrarily ban people from jobs because they belong to a political party you don’t like. On this matter, I’m with Voltaire.

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