The Importance of Free Speech

Thursday, February 28, 2019

The Importance of Free Speech; everyone is entitled to free speech, silencing people creates martyrs and martyrs create movements, Tommy Robinson’s Panodrama documentary should be shown on the BBC alongside their documentary, de-platforming is always the wrong tactic, the truth will always out


Dear All

Before I get started on today’s post, which is about #panodrama, I want to say something about Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh. It seems that Ms. Shiekh has taken the Alex Salmond line on timing of indyref 2. To that end she seems to playing the game as Alex Salmond. Salmond and Shiekh are ‘joined at the hip’ producing his TV show on RT.

At the last General Election, Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh was dumped by the people of Ochil and South Perthshire, and to quote Yoda style, ‘her reign, not short enough that was’. Now as Brexit swirls about, she is criticising  the party’s leadership for failing to take action on a future independence referendum.

So, what failure is she talking about?

Failure of Nicola Sturgeon’s government.

Collapse of indy support?

One thing she did get right, is when she said Nicola Sturgeon’s imminent announcements on another vote “have been trailed so often that no-one is taking them seriously now”.

Nicola Sturgeon won’t get a section 30 order from this Westminster parliament currently running, she can only ask. Sturgeon knows that when or if she ever gets one, that is the clock ticking down to the end of her career.

Nicola Sturgeon won’t lead Scotland to independence.

Reading in The National, the Newsquest sop paper for the Nationalists, she took a swipe at the continual delays in her column. Why she has a column in The National is anyone’s guess, but then you could say the same of Mhairi Black or Ian Blackford as well, these people add nothing to the debate on Scotland’s future.

Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh is no oracle, having watched her in the Commons, it was said she had the nickname ‘tedious’, continually standing up to be called by the Speaker to spout inane drivel.

Sheikh said:

“To paraphrase Theresa May ‘now IS the time’ to be presenting coherent plans and campaigning for change”.

Presumably coherent plans aren’t forthcoming from Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh, nor Sturgeon or the rest of the cabal in Edinburgh.

Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh is out of politics, no loss there.

Now, back to the main issue, you will have seen on the news, and media sites, the undercover operation and sting of Tommy Robertson. His documentary is called Panodrama and I would like you to view, all the way through. In our democracy, it is important to defend free speech, but the problem is that organisations exist attempt to restrict it by threats, violence, intimidation and blackmail. Although politics is seen by many as a dirty business, you simply cannot just focus on them, you have to look at who operates on the fringe, and in the shadows.

I have done a skim of Tommy Robinson’s doc to get a sense of it, to me, the most interesting part wasn’t the exchange between Robinson and John Sweeney. The most important part was the look on the face of the BBC staff as the exchanges continued.

Especially one man who sat in a chair with his head down.

Everyone is entitled to free speech, and the attempts to silence Tommy Robinson have backfired, rather badly, what is better in the boat pissing out, or out the boat pissing in?  At present, Tommy Robinson is moving to new media platforms which won’t get shut down. You may look at Tommy Robinson’s previous history and not feel sympathy for the man, but like anyone else, we expect he is treated fairly. His Court case was a sham, his imprisonment made him a martyr and his expose of the BBC Panorama made him as an investigative journalist.

The attempts to deplatform him were wrong, utterly wrong, you could make the argument if left to his own devices and where he was, he might have hung himself. One thing that John Sweeney appears to suggest is that the entire British system is run by middle class people. He said that the Labour Party hadn’t done their job properly, which I take to mean not enough working class voices in the MP ranks and elsewhere.

Just as you can’t nail jelly to the ceiling, you will never stop free speech, once you recognise that you also recognise that you don’t have to listen to it either.

Finally, if someone would like to do guest posts on the video above on what they thought of the situation presented, then I would like to hear from you. I am basically Looking for two articles, one for the defence (BBC) and one for the prosecution (Tommy Robinson).

Entries to be sent to my hotmail account,  titled ‘Panodrama’.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

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