Calling upon the authorities to ban political groups like Britain First, as Donato Piccinno argues in his letter titled “Time to ban extremists” (June 1, Leicester Mercury), is no answer at all.
Mr Piccinno has not always held this position though, and in 2010 he correctly argued that the official banning of a planned march by the English Defence League (EDL) through Leicester represented “a blow to freedom of speech” (September 29, Mercury). Certainly in that historic instance we are provided with a good illustration of why we cannot rely upon government officials to determine who can express their freedom of speech.
I say this because the decision was also taken to ban the counter demonstration which aimed to oppose the fascist street fighting tactics of the EDL. The end result was that the EDL still went on a violent rampage through the streets, which was all the harder for the public to oppose because many of the counter protestors were being contained (kettled) elsewhere by the police.
All groups should have the legally protected right to organise marches, but the public should have the right to prevent fascists bringing their anti-democratic crusades of hate to our streets. There can be no freedom of speech for fascists or nazis who have no fundamental belief in democratic processes, and who when in power have always sought to deny freedom of speech to others.
Although I made these points in my published letter (June 2, Mercury), it is significant that the editors felt the need to cauterize my stated political reasons for supporting the recent street protests against the far right hate group Britain First.
The Mercury was happy to quote me pointing out that one of Britain First’s policies is to “pay those of foreign descent” to voluntarily leave Britain. But they edited out my next few sentences which explained:
“In the meantime, in order to help encourage foreign people to leave Britain, they spread lies about Muslims – spewing forth even worse bile than that which is viciously propagated in the mainstream media (on an almost daily basis).”
“Former BNP publicist turned Britain First frontman, Paul Golding, claims not to be racist, but has nevertheless stated that ‘Britain First will not rest until Islam has been driven from our shores!’
“Speaking in recent documentary he confirms, ‘It will end in bloodshed. It will end in civil war in this country.’ Ever the consummate professional, Paul prefers not to Sieg Heil in public, he leaves that to his misled fanboys.”
On these important points I was merely referring to the incontrovertible evidence presented in a recent BBC documentary.
Fringe groups like Britain First may be tiny at the moment, but there can be no doubt that fascist ideas can grow very quickly in periods of social and economic upheaval.
This why it is so vital that hate groups like Britain First should be opposed, and it is also why socialists simultaneously campaign against the lies and endless greed of the landlords, tycoons and media moguls who continue to wage war upon the ordinary working class people of Leicester.
My previous letter published earlier today (June 2) as edited by the Leicester Mercury.