Free speech

As a freedom lover, and as an MP, I support free speech.
As a moderator of this site and as a legislator, I appreciate there do have to be legal limits to free speech. Today I invite you to explore what limits should be placed on this crucial right. I invite you to do so in ways I can easily publish.
There have been many fine defences of free speech in the media over the last two days. I also note that the BBC and the main newspapers decided against reproducing the cartoons which were cited in connection with the mass murder and outrage in Paris. I here will stick to their line.
We can all agree that the barbarism in Paris is inexcusable. Our thoughts are with the families of those who lost loved ones in the various murders.
To have a vibrant democracy all institutions, especially government and people in power, have to be exposed to public criticism and popular scrutiny. To have a vibrant democracy there also have to be open and agreed limits to how far people can go in exercising their right to free speech. Satire, biting comment and cartoons all have their role to play.
Most people also agree that individuals, even individuals in elected office, have the right to protection against harmful and false allegations. To have a strong but healthy debate people need to be able to criticise or ridicule individuals, but not to make false claims without the individual concerned having the right to demand an apology and damages for the extreme cases. I regularly delete comments for this site because they make claims – often about my political opponents – that are hurtful if untrue, are often lies, or are difficult to prove. Comparisons of people with views you do not like to Hitler for example are common but normally excessive or disproportionate.
Most people also agree that groups, churches and other institutions should have to accept criticism and satire along with the rest of us. However, we also do need law to keep this within acceptable bounds. On this site I tend to protect institutions as I myself do not wish to attack or libel them and do not have the time to be dragged into disputes if the institution hits back.
To take an extreme case, Germany before the wars allowed and encouraged harsh language against Jews, which gave way to causal violence and discrimination which led to a programme of mass murder from the state. The development of insult and false allegation at the beginning helped fan the rest. This bitter history is part of the reason we have a law against inciting hatred.
The difficult issue for any democracy is to know what is fair comment, what is permissible satire and banter, and what is unacceptable racist abuse or incitement to hatred. At a time when we come together rightly to support free speech, we need to remember the daily compromises and judgements that editors have to make. We all need to consider the impact our language will have on those hearing it before making a public statement. We all also need to condemn unequivocally those who regard mass murder as an acceptable way of life to make a higher religious or political point.

Additional comment

People will enjoy the irony, but I have deleted more responses than usual to this topic as I am busy and do not have the time to edit each of the long contributions that pose interesting issues.


  1. Mark W
    January 11, 2015

    Let’s get this in perspective.

    If the purpose of preventing terrorism is to reduce the needless loss of life then the government should do simple maths. By its nature terrorists are hard to prevent but kill significantly less people than bad driving. Seven a day on UK roads. So in two days that’s a higher body count than Paris. If MI5 gave up on terrorism and concentrated on bad driving more lives could be saved.

    Je suis Charlie, is a bit hollow after the event. Remember I am Spartacus was said before he was carted off. The fact that not even self publicists and the usual suspects of self serving have dared publish this cartoon is the greatest evidence I’ve ever seen at the effective deterrent nature of (death threats? ed)

  2. Mark B
    January 11, 2015

    Good morning.

    The issue is one of law. English Common Law, Napoleonic Code Law, or some religious law such as Sharia. It is also one of which of these laws the people of a country choose to live under. You simply cannot have multiple forms of law, as this can in itself lead to confusion and discrimination.

    English Common law allows the individual the right to go about their rightful business unimpeded. Only when it is stated in law, that an individual cannot do something, is it prohibited. The opposite is true of Napoleonic Code Law. Here, you need paperwork to do something. If you do not have the paperwork, you may be fined. This gives rise to bureaucracy, state control of the individual and corruption. So it is no wonder the EU is seen by all freeborn Englishmen as both alien and abhorrent to our way of life.

    Religious Law cannot be created, amended or repealed. It is fixed for all time and, all adherents to that religion must obey it without question.

    I do not like to see any religion insulted. Critized, yes. But to mock them for jollies and / or profit, is simply not on. I did not like it when GAY activists mocked the Pope. Not because I am Catholic or even religious but, because the issue surrounded GAY rights and, to mock him and not comment on the execution of GAY people in some Islamic states strikes me of both cowardice and hypocrisy.

    Religion is a very personal thing. To many, it does not just define one’s being, but also their soul. It is not a view like in politics, but a way of life. Where a religion and its adherents go wrong, is that they view everyone else must follow them and their belief regardless. It is here where I draw the line. Whilst they are entitled to hold views contrary to mine, they are not entitled to impose those views. I choose to live in a Western style ‘democracy’ because it allows me the right to be and do what I want within accepted normal parameters. The problem for me is, and those of religion, is that laws customs and traditions may conflict. At this point, we have to ask, what is in all our best interests ?

    If certain people cannot live in a Western democracy such as we have, then it may be time to suggest that they seek out that which they wish elsewhere. Government, being responsible for the good of the nation and its people could facilitate this.

    I, myself have considered leaving these shores and living in another country. Why ? because I have become increasingly frustrated at the way this country id run. It is NOT a democracy. It is no longer a free country where, I can say to people; “Stay if you wish, but if you do not like it, leave !”

  3. mickc
    January 11, 2015

    There can be no limits to free speech. Any limit quite simply means it is no longer free.
    The ever growing limits in this country on free speech, either by law, or political correctness have ensured that issues important to the electorate have not been debated. The results are apparent to all who wish to see.
    Regrettably, the Conservative party was at the forefront of this when Heath led the PC mob against Powell, supported by many who should have known better including Macleod.
    Theresa May seems intent on following suit in rubbishing Farage when he makes a perfectly valid point about integration.
    God forbid she become leader of the Party!

    1. Mark B
      January 11, 2015

      Freedom of speech does not, and should not, extend to telling lies and defaming someone, group or company.

      Free speech does not give you the right to deprive someone of their life, liberty, property or income.

      We see today, people, like Nick, using his position to speak out against an individual who, committed a crime for which he was tried and convicted for. Yet upon his release, Nick and other people who use freedom of speech, hound this individual and prevent him from getting on with his life.

      Free speech comes with responsibilities. People should remember that !

      1. Hope
        January 11, 2015

        Peter Hitchens writes an excellent article today in the DM about the LibLabCon cartel and how right Farage was. Lord Tebbit also agreed with his sentiment, as did many others. If this needs further evidence look at the article where it is claimed Britian is the enemy of Islam.

        Those who caused this situation (MPs) want to bury the story and prevent any momentum for them to take any action and do not want to take responsibility for their actions ie comfort letters to suspected Irish terrorists, Iraq, Syrian or Libyan wars. Tories are even using alternative words such as extremism or terrorism rather than naming the group that perpetuates the crime. Create wars in Muslim countries without noble cause or good reason then allow the same people to enter the country as asylum seekers to cause fear and harm when providing them homes and the finance through welfare state to do it! May hides reports/has failed to deport criminals or needs the EU blessing to do so!

        The Tories are increasing their snooping powers, without good reason, using terrorism as an excuse, they have curtailed free speech by equality and diversity legislation, Levison and Electoral Commission, intrusive powers given to HMRC to raid bank accounts without proper process, Osborne now hiring a firm to be paid commission for debt collection in taxes on the low paid, did nothing when the EU toppled governments and stole from bank accounts in Cyprus. All this when slashing the budgets of the military and police! You could not make up the stupidty and double standards. Vote Tory: no more thank you.

        1. Lifelogic
          January 11, 2015

          Indeed but Labour and the satirically named Libdems are clearly even worse, albeit only slightly.

          Plus the dreadful UK and EU arrest warrants agreements.

          1. Lifelogic
            January 11, 2015

            US not UK sorry.

      2. mickc
        January 11, 2015

        No, free speech carries no responsibilities whatsoever, or certainly none which can be enforced or it isn’ t free!

        Lies carry liabilities, nothing else should.

    2. Vanessa
      January 11, 2015

      Micke – a good reply indeed. Once you start tinkering with “freedom of speech” it no longer exists.
      Political Correctness originated from the USSR and communism is all about controlling the way people think and speak so the political elite are more able to know what is going on.
      Blair started political correctness with all his laws about racism; ageism; sexism; etc. If you have freedom of speech you are entitled to be offended and to tell the person who offended you of your feelings so they may apologise. People are frightened now of saying what they really think and feel because of this abominable law.
      The terrorists have WON, we are so scared of upsetting anyone we are changing our way of life to make sure nobody is upset, including these horrendous people and their crimes against our society. We are all being cowed into accepting sharia law so muslims are not offended by our Common Law, Christmas trees, etc. In 20 years time this country will be unrecognisable.

      1. Denis Cooper
        January 11, 2015

        No, it didn’t start with Blair, he was still at primary school when it started.

        The seeds are there in the closing paragraphs of that Section of the 1964 – 1965 Pears Cyclopedia to which I have referred below:

        “Possible Changes in the Law – In the House of Commons, on November 9 1962, the Home Secretary said …

        … 4. The whole House abhors racial hatred, and if current cases show that the law needs further strengthening, it will be effectively reformed to check the evil. There is, however, some considerable parliamentary pressure to put this undertaking into statutory form, and to make it an offence violently to provoke, threaten or abuse racial or religious minorities … ”

        That is where it all started, over fifty years ago with a Conservative Home Secretary, Henry Brooke, not with Tony Blair thirty-five years later.

    3. Denis Cooper
      January 11, 2015

      On the contrary there must be limits to free speech, there always have been limits to free speech, and it would be a serious strategic error for those who wish to maximise free speech to take the absolutist position that it must be completely free speech with no limits rather than engaging their opponents in debate about what the limits should be.

      Recent events have caused me to once again take my copy of Pears Cyclopedia for 1964 – 1965 off the shelf and refer to Section D35 entitled “Free Speech and Public Order” which set out the principles which operated at that time, legal principles which had been gradually developed over several centuries through both the case law of the courts and statutes.

      For example during that period it was held that “the preservation of public order is of paramount importance”, and “a magistrate or police officer has a right and duty to take any steps necessary to stop a breach of the peace taking place”, and there was still the common law crime of sedition, “which includes the doing of acts or the speaking of words with the intention of promoting feelings of ill-will or hostility between different classes of the Queen’s subjects. If the words or acts (whatever the intention) have a direct tendency to cause unlawful meetings or disturbances, they are seditious, since “a man is presumed to intend the natural consequences of his acts” (see (3), above). This does not mean that there must be no full and free discussion, nor that there is any prohibition on criticism, or even censure; but there must be no malignity, nor any imputation of corrupt or malicious motives, such as to incite people to take the law into their own hands and provoke them to tumult and disorder.”

      Given that the politicians we elected have chosen to create a new class of the Queen’s subjects who find any depiction of Mohammed offensive, let alone cartoons mocking him, and given that some members of that new class of the Queen’s subjects are known to believe that they have not just the right but the religious duty to react to that perceived offence with physical violence, not just a “breach of the peace”, with “tumult and disorder”, but with extreme violence, not just assassination of those responsible for the offence but also murder of anyone who gets in their way, and given that their actions will inevitably have the effect of “promoting ill-will and hostility” towards their class from virtually all the other classes of the Queen’s subjects, I would say that just on those old 1960’s principles the politicians who previously helped to create this problem in our society could now be justified in banning any publication of such cartoons in order to try to keep a lid on it.

      1. Alan Wheatley
        January 11, 2015

        Denis, I find your final paragraph (and sentence) difficult to follow. I think it is intended to be ironic.

        Gillray did not suffer the fate of the lid, and now he is ever so collectable. Perhaps we should be collecting Charlie Hebdo originals for the benefit of our great grandchildren!

        1. Anonymous
          January 12, 2015

          Alan – Of course he’s being ironic and far more witty than I could ever be.

          There won’t need to be any laws – UK satirists and news reporters are already too petrified to criticise this faith.

          Alas the likelihood is that there WILL be more laws. Curtailing such depictions or reporting of ANY faith.

          And so another backwards step towards the dark ages. Where scientific progress may even be inhibited because its advocates cannot offer critical argument with religionists.

    4. Stephen Berry
      January 11, 2015

      “There can be no limits to free speech. Any limit quite simply means it is no longer free.”

      I agree with ‘mickc’ on this simple point. At any time in our history there have been people trying use the law to suppress criticism of their pet viewpoint. It is no different now in the UK and it is important that people can speak their mind on such presently ‘sensitive’ subjects as race, sex, the Holocaust, Global Warming and Islam. It is to be hoped that people will express their viewpoint responsibly, but it is in the nature of free speech that some people will be intemperate in their utterances. Whilst regrettable, these people should certainly not be prosecuted under the law.

      Religion should receive no special protection from the state. This is particularly to be borne in mind when we remember that many of the beliefs and customs of the world religions lend themselves so perfectly to satire.

      The freedom of speech should only be limited when it is used to advocate violence against a person. For instance, if a UK citizen of religious authority were to advocate violence against another UK citizen (no longer such a far fetched idea), a case for incitement to violence should be brought by the government against the advocate of such violence.

  4. Gary
    January 11, 2015

    the hypocrisy of “free speech”

    when is free speech a hate crime with a minimum of 5 years in jail? Why did Charlie Hebdo immediately sack a founding cartoonist about 5 years ago for a supposedly anti-semitic cartoon , but did nothing about any other cartoons?

    Is the ability of the state to incarcerate people for up to 28 days without charge, without access to legal representation, and without trial an example of what the state really thinks about freedom of speech ? As opposed to the mawkish, political correct platitudes they utter ?

    1. Timaction
      January 11, 2015

      Having watched the events unfold in France this week I realised how much our freedoms have been given up with the big line of “Equality Laws (race/religion)” made by Labour and supported by ConLib. Quotas not ability in employment legislation etc. Mr Farage made some very straight points supported by Mr Tebbit only to be castigated by the legacy parties who want to brow beat us into submission.
      I’m afraid that real people out here in the real world have and will make their own minds up having had real life and work experience. Not straight into politics from cosseted backgrounds.

  5. Lifelogic
    January 11, 2015

    The BBC insufferable desire to avoid any offence to any group, (and their time variable PC language that changes by the week) is just pathetic and appalling. People often need to be offended. They are doing the terrorists work for them to a degree.

    A sectional group does not have the right to decide what words others should be permitted to call them that year.

    We should get things in perspective, some 300,000 people die every day, many violently or from entirely preventable causes perhaps we can try to do something about some of these deaths too.

    Why do we react so much more to these religious atrocities in Paris when far worse but similar events they are happing all the time in Africa and elsewhere – are African lives worth any less to the BBC?

    The state should clearly try to prevent these outrageous murders, but where they cannot (as is so often the case) they should just pick of the pieces after the event and move on.

    People on the BBC, suggesting that a lack of better accommodation in the Paris suburbs might be the cause, do not help matters.

    I suspect it will soon be made an offence to point out that the temperature of the world has not risen for 16 years, that the warming of the past century is nothing unusual and to question Davey & Dave’s global warming (the huge exaggeration of) greencrap religion.

    1. Bazman
      January 11, 2015

      You would be the first to shout left nonsense if the BBC did as you say and would talk about conspiracy if they did no report much on Frances terrorist shootings. You need to come up with some scientific facts as the majority of credible scientists say all evidence points to this. Feelings and reliance on crackpot sources and non science people claiming to be scientists would again be the first thing to be pointed out by you. A deluded right wing agenda free from any learning or facts based on evidence is no way to live.

      1. Lifelogic
        January 11, 2015

        The facts are quite clear. Global warming has stopped (or at least paused since 1998 some 16 years so far). The warming this century gives no reason to assume there is any pending catastrophe round the corner. Even is we had to cool the earth then reducing c02 levels is a very, very inefficient and hugely expensive way to do it.

        Anyway the wind, PV, wave “solutions” they propose and idiotically subsidise with tax payers money do not even work in economic or often even C02 terms as they just tend to export jobs thus producing more c02 but somewhere else.

      2. Lifelogic
        January 11, 2015

        The facts are quite clear. Global warming has stopped (or at least paused since 1998 some 16 years so far). The warming this century gives no reason to assume there is any pending catastrophe round the corner. Even is we had to cool the earth then reducing CO2 levels is a very, very inefficient and absurdly expensive way to do it.

        Anyway the wind, PV, wave “solutions” they propose (and idiotically subsidise with tax payers money) do not even work in economic nor even C02 terms. This due to their intermittent nature and cost of manufacture – they just tend to export jobs just producing more c02 somewhere else.

      3. Qubus
        January 11, 2015

        The President of the Royal Society is an expert on genes; Steve Jones an expert on snails. Both these people are alleged experts on global warming. can anyone tell me why?

        1. Lifelogic
          January 11, 2015

          The BBC likes them a lot because they say the right things on the global warming exaggerations. I tend to rather like Sir Paul Nurse (I too had trouble remembering my French for O levels)

          He is certainly better than the last one, Lord Rees who even had religion I understand. Even winning and accepting the 2011 Templeton prize for making an exceptional contribution to investigating life’s spiritual dimension!

          I just think he has far too much trust in the honesty and ability of academics in the global warming industry which is fueled by grants to the people who say the right things. Can we not find a younger Feynman, Lindzen or Freeman Dyson? But then they would not get elected I suppose so infected is the system.

          Predicting the future of a Chaotic climate system even having all the inputs is clearly not possible – and they do not even have the inputs.

      4. libertarian
        January 11, 2015

        Its you dear Bazman who has a closed mind, who believes the line fed by the establishment, its you who never researches or looks at alternatives.

        I once posted a list of 42 of the worlds leading climate scientists who disagree with you & AGW. You made no attempt to read it or understand or evaluate. If the left suddenly changed its stance on this or any other subject you would immediately change yours too. You’ve never had an original thought.

        1. Bazman
          January 12, 2015

          A Skeptical Science peer-reviewed survey of all (over 12,000) peer-reviewed abstracts on the subject ‘global climate change’ and ‘global warming’ published between 1991 and 2011 (Cook et al. 2013) found that over 97% of the papers taking a position on the subject agreed with the consensus position that humans are causing global warming. Some of the scientists are shall we say dubious in their science and funding you list. If you went to hospital would you use quack medicinal science. OK for this tough Funny that. Right wing science is strange, except its not.
          It has little to do with science and no matter how much evidence is given to you will still want more. It is religious view that no matter what we do the earth will look after us and has a very strong following in America. If we die we die. Fatalistic nonsense that everything is pre ordained. If you believe this you need to see a doctor.
          Putting unlimited amounts of CO2 in to the atmosphere will have no effect and it does we will be able cope and it might even be good is for the birds. No man made eco system has ever survived for any length of time. Something to bear in mind.

          1. Edward2
            January 13, 2015

            Most accept that humans have an effect on the climate, even skeptics such as me.
            The argument on the skeptic side, is by how much are humans responsible and what effect rising CO2 has on temperatures, in terms of sensitivity.

            The more alarmist in the warmist camp say its humans 100% and temperatures will rise by 5 or 6 degrees this century and we are all doomed.
            Others in the warmist camp predict a two degree rise allowing for a fall in the rate of growth of CO2 due to more use of renewables, clever new inventions, improvements in China and India’s performance and the effect of the Climate Change Act.

            What is clear from current data is that whilst CO2 is still rising temperatures have stalled since 2000.
            Your own Guardian article showed a 0.09 of one degree rise since 1994
            That is less than one tenth of one degree in over a decade.
            In simple graph maths the trend since 1900 is still up, but if this pause continues and it is, then the predictive computer models will have to be adjusted because the predictions do not match the current data.

            It seems that the figure in these computer models for sensitivity of temperature to CO2 levels, is too high.
            It was adjusted downwards slightly by the IPCC in their last report but not nearly enough in my opinion.

            There is a huge amount of money being spent in the UK on just what you are calling for, with a target of 80% reduction by 2020, but without the equal reductions of China and other nations, the chances of getting CO2 down to the levels scientists want is nil.

          2. Matt
            January 13, 2015

            You make a range of valid points.
            Global warming at it’s basic level is hard to dispute. CO2 is a greenhouse gas and we’ve known that for decades. It’s a rather weak greenhouse gas but put enough into the atmosphere and you will eventually notice a small effect on the climate.

            The catastrophic man made global warming hypothesis is substantial leap from the above. In this hypothesis there is massive positive feedback from the small warming effect of CO2 creating a much, much greater warming effect mostly through various effects on and of water vapour.
            The hypothesis is not ridiculous and was certainly worthy of serious consideration. However it is not automatically correct just because the basic global warming I state above is correct. The 97% of scientists are those who believe in basic global warming. They are not automatically supporters of the catastrophic man made global warming hypothesis.
            There are many reasons to be dubious about the catastrophic hypothesis.
            – It is heavily based on computer models which are in turn heavily based on assumptions. Some of these assumptions have later turned out to be correct, some incorrect and some unknown.
            – It has become politically incorrect to question it. Which is highly suspicious.
            – Most of all it has failed the absolutely fundamental criterion for becoming hard science. Namely it’s predictions were incorrect. Wildly incorrect in fact. Go back to the early IPCC reports and compare their predictions for the following 10-20 years with what actually happened.

            Above all please try to remember that to be a doubter “climate change” is far more likely to be a doubter of the catastrophic man made global warming hypothesis than it is to doubt the CO2 greenhouse effect itself.

          3. Bazman
            January 14, 2015

            Its not just about CO2 and global warming its the shear amount of filth produced by all forms of energy production that just and cannot continue on this scale, even modern cars are unpleasant and dangerous in their emission and across the world many cities are chocking on their own exist fumes from all areas of energy. The free market is unable to come up with solutions fast enough, but the prizes are great for those that do. A race to the bottom is not an option and soon the solution will be found leaving us technically dead in the water with this do nothing attitude.

          4. Edward2
            January 16, 2015

            Now changing the argument to one about pollution. Which is a totally different one to warming. Although warmists often try to merge the two.

            PS Its EU legislation and tax policy that has created the diesel car obsession and resulting poor air quality. A free market would have stayed with petrol powered vehicles.

          5. Bazman
            January 16, 2015

            CO2 is inextricably linked to other forms of pollution how can it not be? The more efficient and cleaner the power source the less CO2 and dirt depending on the carbon trail of course
            I have 200bhp diesel with Euro 6 emissions standard and will be exempted from the proposed London emission charge and the like. The 175 bhp motorbike is petrol, so I’m alright Jack. Get that scrapper out of my way!

    2. William Gruff
      January 11, 2015

      The BBC insufferable desire to avoid any offence to any group

      Any and every group except the English. The BBC is, to paraphrase Sir William Macpherson, institutionally Anglophobic. One of the first acts of an English Parliament should be to shut it down.

      1. ChrisS
        January 11, 2015

        Wasn’t this topic supposed to be about free Speech ?

        And you want to close down the BBC ???????

        1. Mike Wilson
          January 12, 2015

          Are you under the illusion the BBC are bastions of, and proponents of, free speech? First I’ve heard.

      2. ChrisS
        January 11, 2015

        Reply to William Gruff :

        Wasn’t this topic supposed to be about free Speech ?

        And you want to close down the BBC ???????

        1. William Gruff
          January 12, 2015

          How is closing down a clearly biased national broadcaster that is notorious for pushing opinions of one political hue (a strange mix of reddish pink and green that changes with the political wind but never public opinion) and assiduously suppressing or misrepresenting those of any other, that is maintained by a tax extorted with menaces from those who may seldom or never consume its output, even sending threatening letters to people who have never had a television set (I receive them, and nuisance visits, regularly), that behaves as though it is a government department with judicial and police powers, that operates as though it is a commercial company and that regards its archives as its own private property, rather than that of the people who have paid for it, and rations and restricts access to it, for no obvious reason other than purely commercial concerns, at odds with the defence of free speech?

          My apologies for the length of that sentence.

          1. Excalibur
            January 12, 2015

            A brilliant riposte, William Gruff.

    3. Man of Kent
      January 11, 2015

      Quite agree on global warming [see reply to reply above]
      but Christopher Monckton gives evidence for no warming for 18 years 3 months.

      1. Lifelogic
        January 11, 2015

        How may years will it take to change their minds do you think? 20, 30, 50.

      2. stred
        January 11, 2015

        The BBC does not seem too interested in the recent prices received when DECC obtained competitive tenders for capacity in the electricity market. This is needed for back up of fluctuating renewables, which we will all pay through our bills in addition to subsidies for wind and PV. The price was only £19.40 per kW- much less than estimated and mainly by gas CC, meaning that the capacity cost was roughly a 20th of the cost Ed Davey agreed to pay the French to build Hinkley Point nuclear station, index linked and opening in 2023. By this time all but one of our older stations will have closed. (see Old Sparky -Private Eye)

        The Strike Price per GWh agreed for the various type of generation agreed by Ed are:-
        Biomass £105, Offshore wind 155, Onshore wind 100, Large PV 125.
        Gas costs 55-110 but after paying for the disincentives of the Climate Change act. Coal is cheaper but about to be phased out altogether.

        But Ed Daveytells us all is well because we will have insulated our houses so well under the Green Deal that prices will not go up much. At least he will still have his job for a few months. Greg Barker has left and David MacKay, the chief technical adviser has been replaced. Thank goodness the ex DECC Red Ed knows how to keep prices down.

    4. Max Dunbar
      January 12, 2015

      The BBC’s treatment of what it considers to be ‘right-wing’ parties and organisations is entirely reflexive. It considers them to be ‘out’ groups and therefore disallowed from being offended.

      1. Max Dunbar
        January 12, 2015

        Reply to Lifelogic on BBCs ‘insufferable desire to avoid any offence to any group’.

  6. me3
    January 11, 2015

    Nobody is reproducing the cartoons because the UK is submitting to Islam, as Islam demands.

    1. English Pensioner
      January 11, 2015

      All the French Language newspapers in Quebec put them on their front pages, but the English Language ones opted out.

    2. Lifelogic
      January 11, 2015

      Well certainly the UK government and the BBC seem to be submissive.

  7. JoeSoap
    January 11, 2015

    “We all need to consider the impact our language will have on those hearing it before making a public statement.” This is really the key statement here.

    So, if the impact our language has is to cause those hearing it to commit mass murder, although we consider it “free speech”, should we continue to say it anyway? And if we do, are we inciting violence?

    We have heard a lot about “free speech” in the past few days, and of course it is technically correct that the cartoons in Paris were “free speech”. But perhaps it is more effective (not to say safer) to criticise ideas in a straightforward way by logical argument rather than by lampooning them?

    1. Alan Wheatley
      January 11, 2015

      Cartoons AND the written word may or may not be “effective”. It depends on their quality. Additionally, for the written word to be effective readers have to spend the time to read the words and make the effort to understand them.

      It seems to me the cartoon is particularly effective when it draws on something you already know but presents the information in a way that reveals a particular truth that you had not previously considered.

      In the current context, it is not the merits of the cartoon that is at issue but that it should be allowed at all. That is a far more important and fundamental matter.

      1. JoeSoap
        January 11, 2015

        Well I see this as the equivalent of climbing a steep wall or cliff without climbing gear. Of course it should be allowed, but it isn’t necessarily advisable, and isn’t proving anything that couldn’t be proven using the correct gear.
        When some idiot starts throwing stones at you, and you fall off, it’s not your fault, it’s theirs, but you still have to be pretty foolhardy to have done it. Also, what of the poor people who have to clear up the mess when you fall off ?

        1. Alan Wheatley
          January 11, 2015

          I do not think your analogy is appropriate.

          As a cartoonist the worst that should befall you is that you are out of a job because people will not pay to see your work.

    2. Matt
      January 11, 2015

      “So, if the impact our language has is to cause those hearing it to commit mass murder, although we consider it “free speech”, should we continue to say it anyway? And if we do, are we inciting violence?”

      Yes we should. In fact we should say it more and louder. Anyone plotting, attempting or actually carrying out violence in response is the enemy of everything we value and it is they who need to change and not us.
      It is the job of our police, security services, and military to find such people and stop them by whatever means necessary. Sometimes they won’t succeed. Good people will die. But at least we still have our liberty.
      Tolerance towards other cultures is our way, and something to be proud of. But it doesn’t extend to the tolerance of extreme intolerance of us. That would be ridiculous.

    3. Denis Cooper
      January 11, 2015

      Not so much “inciting”, as “provoking”, violence. It would be those who were provoked and then called for mass murder who were “inciting” it, and indeed there have been convictions for doing just that.

    4. Anonymous
      January 12, 2015

      Anyone who thinks the free speaker is responsible for the actions of the violent and indiscriminate killer has lost sight of the true situation.

  8. alan jutson
    January 11, 2015

    With freedom of speech comes responsibility, so the big question is, where do you draw the line before such words are likely to cause a physical re-action.

    The big problem we have had for decades now, is that we seem to allow some groups of people rather more leeway before any action is taken, than we do others.

    Thus the Police, The Public Prosecution Service, and our Courts, need to be seen to be even handed no matter what colour, race, religion, or sexual orientation.

    For years we have allowed certain groups to preach hate with no action being taken, whilst other individuals have been prosecuted for a simple reference in slang.

    Perhaps the rules should be rather more clear and workable, if we are to have rules that is.

    1. Alan Wheatley
      January 11, 2015

      Alan, I agree with most of what you say. But you do not draw the line on the basis of the reaction, for that way encourages ever more unacceptable reactions.

    2. Lifelogic
      January 11, 2015

      “before such words are likely to cause a physical re-action”

      The physical reaction is caused (only) by the person who reacts. They do not need to read it if they do not want too or they can just burn them.

      Though it seems we cannot burn religious texts should be want to.

  9. Lifelogic
    January 11, 2015

    I see that in Cameron’s “in three letters priority” N….. H…… S….. the survival rates are worse than the European average for 9 out of 10 cancers. How may avoidable deaths does this come to I wonder?

    All they need to do is copy the best of the many other, far better, health systems and get rid of the expensive delays & rationing systems they have in the “free at the point of death” NHS?

    1. lojolondon
      January 11, 2015

      Another great case for free speech – and the way the internet has revolutionised life. Everyone in Britain now knows that other countries have better AND cheaper health services. But British Politicians are afraid to say anything negative about the NHS or accept that things could be better. That is because Labour, with the full coercion of the Biased BBC, pillory anyone who dares to criticise or try to change the NHS. The supine MSM follows suit. We have to go to the blogs to find people and organisations who are offering healthy criticism as to how things could be improved. And things will never, ever get better until there is fundamental change.

      1. Lifelogic
        January 11, 2015

        The gagging of NHS staff from telling the truth is also very “effective”.

  10. Lifelogic
    January 11, 2015

    Meanwhile we have Boko Haram’s ‘deadliest massacre’ with 2,000 feared dead in Nigeria but hear almost nothing about it.

    1. Lifelogic
      January 11, 2015

      Will Cameron be off to Nigeria to give them his support too or just to Paris?

      1. Mitchel
        January 12, 2015

        Don’t be silly….it’s not what the fashionable set are talking about down at Soho House!

        I was looking with interest at that front row of “world leaders” at the Paris march yesterday – it was the EU,its unelected functionnaries and a token French ex-colonial leader.

    2. lojolondon
      January 11, 2015

      Boko Haram apparently control an area 6 times greater than ISIS and certainly kill far more people, but because poor (Christian) Africans are not tooled and skilled in social media (and have no sponsors in parliament) we hear nothing about their plight. Once again, the Western world is engaging in wars where it will take a massive investment in money and lives to make any difference, in Africa, with a tenth of the investment they could turn the situation around very quickly. This is a war with a limited cost, big upside, a huge opportunity to do good, and to leave behind a very happy population, so surely it makes sense to engage here?

    3. Denis Cooper
      January 11, 2015

      No doubt Cameron would say that what Boko Haram is doing in Nigeria also has nothing to do with true Islam, which is a religion of peace and love. And who are we to doubt his expertise on that matter?

    4. Jon
      January 12, 2015

      Did you notice him next to Hollande at the French rally? I’m thinking he should be spending more time in Nigeria and on Boko Haram

  11. Iain Gill
    January 11, 2015

    There is no legally enforced right to “free speech” here, it is an American concept enshrined in their laws.
    Here there are many laws to limit what people can say, the main problem being that these can only be used by the rich, and anyone with normal levels of wealth cannot take on the risk of costly defence against legal action from those with more funds. Except of course using the web, hosting your conversation abroad, and other such techniques, giving ways of avoiding potential action in the courts here.
    Then there are public threats of violence which lead many to look the other way and not discuss things for fear of violence, or even tolerate normal views. Lots of decent views are kept out of the press by threats of violence.
    We have the state trying to regulate what people can say, in inefficient, biased, and not really successful ways, everything from the electoral commission to the Scottish police, while at the same time ignoring glaring much more serious stuff (such as real serious threats to kill). The state can throw large amounts of money at smashing an individual’s freedoms in some quite outrageous ways, while failing in its basic duty to protect citizens.
    There is also an institutional bias of what’s broadly called “political correctness” which limits folk speaking the truth to authority and publically. We have allowed concepts of things like “equality” to be developed which are not very equal, leaving many feeling disenfranchised and leading to a big gap between what is presented by our media and politicians and what most decent people actually believe.
    We are segregating our children into schools of different religions and the state itself is discouraging integration.
    We talk tough on our rhetoric against those who don’t like our way of life, and are happy to murder us, but in practise we have negotiated with and given into extreme demands from such groups behind the scenes many times. Giving any new group with demands reasonable grounds to think violence can change things.
    There are many who have views that should be listened to. “Private Eye” the journal has regularly faced legal problems from rich people trying to stop them saying things, and often “Private Eye” have in the fullness of time been proven to be correct. What “Private Eye” say on these things is worth listening to.
    Then there are also rich people I have a lot of sympathy with. Talk to the three surviving members of the band Queen about the way Freddie was portrayed in the press during the time he was dying and there is still a lot of anger. Even with their reasonably high levels of wealth they have suffered some extremely bad things from the press which they could not stop.
    I have to look no further than the facebook pages of the young people where I live to see death threats being openly discussed, it can be hard to know which are serious and which are youthful bravado and hormone fuelled rants. The ability of adult males to intervene and provide some regulation has been removed pretty much completely by the nanny state. When I was young the older adult males would regularly intervene and get physical to point the younger ones in the right direction, any attempts at this now would result in arrests of the decent older males and not the young tear aways. Politicians have removed the natural safety valves of people self-policing the youth, and have failed to replace them. Lots of the youth have unrealistic views of entitlement and have been through a school and policing environment which has completely failed to apply checks and balances to their bad attitudes.
    We have also encouraged entitlement and self-righteous views to flourish, by tolerating lots of grumbles from those who don’t like the democratic settlement.
    And we have a lot of social manipulation where apparently its ok to abuse people for being ginger in ways which would have folk locked up for abusing an ethnic minority. It’s ok in Scotland to abuse English people in ways which would have folk locked up if the abuse was against any other nationality. Its ok to discriminate against some religions and not others. And so on. None of this is good for us as a society.

    1. mickc
      January 11, 2015

      Free speech is most certainly NOT an American concept.

      It is an Enlightenment concept, and many of the major philosophers of the Enlightenment were English/Scottish.

      Those concepts were adopted by the Founding Fathers. who were English subjects by birth, but proclaimed themselves to be independent.

      However, the Enlightment is presently being rolled back with the acquiescence of our political masters.

      1. Iain Gill
        January 12, 2015

        You are correct, I’m sorry.
        In a historical context you’re correct, I was thinking of current day legal realities.

    2. Qubus
      January 13, 2015

      Well spoken.

  12. Lifelogic
    January 11, 2015

    “active religious racism & segregation” I meant.

  13. sm
    January 11, 2015

    I was a teenager when satire exploded into the UK’s public consciousness via Beyond The Fringe and That Was The Week That Was, together with Private Eye, and how glorious it felt to see The Establishment mocked.

    However, the inevitable outcome of such freedom, coinciding with the massive growth of communication technology, seems to be that the satirists and communicators need to push ever further at the limits of good sense in order to make their mark. I am an agnostic, of Jewish descent, but I found the descriptions of some of the Charlie Hebdo anti-Islamic cartoons to be utterly and unjustifiably disgusting.

    What deeply concerns me about today’s society, re-inforced by the recent French tragedies among others, is the schizophrenic view that everything should be permissible but the consequences of such actions must be legislated against. (I hope I am making sense here, as concentrating complex thoughts into a brief text is not easy).

    1. lojolondon
      January 11, 2015

      It was very noticeable that Spitting Image was brutal on the Conservatives and the Royal Family. That all died in 1997, as Labour certainly does not tolerate such free speech.

      1. petermartin2001
        January 11, 2015

        We can blame New Labour for many things but the loss of Spitting Image? ?
        Google {spitting image tony blair neil kinnock } if you need a confirmation of how brutal the SI team were to them too.
        Politicians and their supporters may not like being lampooned but that’s democracy.

  14. The PrangWizard
    January 11, 2015

    Are you prepared to ask the Home Secretary publically if she will now lift the bans on Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller entering the UK as proof that the Prime Minister and others mean what they say? And is she prepared to speak to the Police and demand equal rights for demonstrators and those who need to protect and assert their rights; to give equal protection for all those acting lawfully and to apply the law to those who so far have been given special favours?

    1. Mark B
      January 11, 2015

      It all depends if what people have to say is from an ‘approved’ list ?

    2. Lifelogic
      January 11, 2015

      Exactly I think the answer will surely be no.

    3. Denis Cooper
      January 11, 2015

      But I don’t accept that all the legal rights and liberties enjoyed by citizens in their own country should necessarily be extended to non-citizens.

      Some may call me old-fashioned, so be it, but personally I place a high value on my UK citizenship and I don’t want it to be devalued and ultimately rendered worthless by the elevation of non-citizens to the same legal status as citizens in all respects; which has been the ulterior motive of many of those who have been working away for decades to gradually replace the concept of national “civil rights” with that of universal “human rights”, and who have already achieved considerable success in doing that.

      Therefore I don’t accept that foreigners should necessarily be allowed the same freedom of speech in the UK as UK citizens enjoy, whatever degree of freedom that may be; so while I may have political objections to the Home Secretary barring a particular foreigner from entering the country because of the political views he expresses I would never object to it on the grounds that he has a right to free speech.

      Indeed part of this distinction between citizens and non-citizens was even recognised in Article 16 of the original European Convention, which appropriately qualified freedoms which had been proclaimed in the UN Declaration of Human Rights as being universal, as follows:

      “ARTICLE 16

      Restrictions on political activity of aliens

      Nothing in Articles 10, 11 and 14 shall be regarded as preventing the High Contracting Parties from imposing restrictions on the political activity of aliens.”

      Article 10 being that on freedom of expression, 11 that on freedom of assembly and association and 14 that on prohibition of discrimination.

      1. James Sutherland
        January 11, 2015

        I see one huge flaw in that idea for most purposes: if we must prove our citizenship in order to exercise our rights, that imposes a requirement to disclose our identities – an onerous imposition, particularly online. Would we have to provide JR with our passport numbers before posting here, for example? What about a non-passport-holding acquaintance of mine?

        Note, also, that it applies only to *political* activity: the freedom of speech and assembly in other matters isn’t covered by this exception, and rightly so in my opinion.

        Personally, I feel current restrictions go much too far, with the government banning visitors from the country for their non-violent political views (while strangely “unable” to eject those already here and expressing a violent agenda, in case their own home countries are nasty to them). Excluding the “pick up artist” in particular disgusted me: now we decide our immigration policy on the basis of the political correctness of somebody’s dating tips?!

    4. lojolondon
      January 11, 2015

      Our Prime Minister said that he supports democracy in the same week he announced that he wants to be inside the EU, the greatest threat to British democracy since 1945.
      Our Prime Minister said that he supports free speech, in the same week he announced that his cabinet would not be free to campaign for leaving the EU.
      Our Prime Minister said that he wants to engage in public debates, at the same time he specified conditions that would mean any debate is meaningless.
      Where are the conservative Conservatives, do we need to lose the next election before we listen to voters?

      1. Lifelogic
        January 11, 2015

        Indeed and yet it seem Cameron want to throw another election.

        When a politician says “we need a public debate” they are just avoiding giving their opinion and pushing the topic into the long grass. What they are really saying is “I do not want to discuss or debate this at all as it is a bit controversial move on please”.

  15. Ex-expat Colin
    January 11, 2015

    Its London again…the centre of crime globally and for a long time the centre of subversion. Trouble is the gang in authority confound us by not dealing with it immediately. Call it Human Rights for as long as you like…and you do! Perverse is a mild term really.

    My experience of living and working in the M. East saw none of what I have seen here in UK (largely London) for the last 20 years. There are trouble makers/loonies in all societies but its clear this country loves to attract them. Strange that France should point a finger. And the hand wringers are out in force again…achieving precisely what?

    Suppose we still won’t hear from Gert Wilders…free speech/expression, my ar*e. Peter Hitchens captures most of it in today’s D. Mail.

  16. Alan Wheatley
    January 11, 2015

    I see “This Week” on Thursday evening started with a clip from That Was The Week That Was.

    On Friday “The Now Show” ended with a song upholding the right to publish cartoons and applauding the role of satire.

    Both these BBC programmes had it right.

    Reasoned argument is too often curtailed by claims of offence being given.

    In a free democracy freedom of speech and expression must NOT be inhibited by a fear of violent reprisal. Individuals and individual organisations should not have to stand alone against such threats. The lead must and can only be taken by government, and then we can all stand behind and support such action. If government is not prepared to promote the right of free speech for fear of attack and loss of support from some quarters, then we are lost. It has been asked “what is it to be British”, “what are British values”? Well, in my opinion satirical cartoons are a long-standing part of British life, and there should be no section of society that can be immune.

    I applaud the plan of Charlie Hebdo to print, with assistance, about a million copies of their next edition, which I assume is anticipated to sell out in France. I would support a World-wide print run.

    1. Alan Wheatley
      January 11, 2015

      On the “World At One” today, a Charlie Hebdo cartoonist who, fortunately, was not in their office at the time of the shootings, was asked about the large public gatherings today in France in support of the magazine. He, rather ungratefully I thought, was lacking in appreciation on the basis they are mostly people who do not buy the magazine.

      Surely the point is freedom to buy, or not, the magazine, but also equally freedom to be able to publish without fear of unlawful retribution. I would say that supporting the right to exist of something you do not like is impressive and to be unreservedly applauded.

  17. David Hope
    January 11, 2015

    I think libel rules and general freedom of speech are issues to be treated separately – though both are currently too strict in the UK. Libel allows an individual legal redress whereas the freedom of speech laws mean that the police may come knocking at your door.

    For me I am ok with incitement to violence being restricted – I don’t think you can demand for example that people attack an individual or group physically.

    Incitement to hatred is a greyer area and I am not so happy about it. There can be an argument against incitement to hate due to colour or sex alone. But it must be well defined for genuine hatred, not for example, jokes or mockery. I don’t believe it should ever include religion or politics, and I dislike the way Islam has been treated as a race rather than beliefs.

    Finally, I believe all the right not to be offended is utterly wrong

    1. Tom William
      January 11, 2015

      I agree.
      But we no longer have freedom of speech here. The absurd introduction of a badly drafted offence “hate crime”, however well meant, has resulted in the police arresting people because someone claims they have been frightened/abused/insulted. Even opinions can be a reason for an offence being alleged by a dim witted copper.

      Very many examples, of which the most absurd was “racial abuse” (case given which I did not recognise ed)
      Many of us were brought up to believe “sticks and stones may break your bones, but names will never hurt you”. Not any longer.

  18. The Targe
    January 11, 2015

    Legislation and importantly the misuse of legislation is the biggest enemy to free speech that we have in the UK. One such example is the Protection from Harrasment Act 1997. Under this act the police have to come knocking if they receive a complaint as a result of free discussion on social media. I remember a Telegraph blog (which I now can’t find to reference) by a female journalist who cited the account of when she published on social media a comnent which outlined her opposition to her town council spending money on a gay rights event. She simply published that the money would be ‘better spent elsewhere’. The police came knocking. Why? Because they received a complaint. Nick Clegg was being very disingenuous when he spoke of the right to be offended. We don’t have that right and there’s legislation on the statute books to prove it.

  19. Bert Young
    January 11, 2015

    “Free speech” is a very tricky area . We have become used to a society where we believe that one ought to say what one thinks without counting the consequences ; we expect the media to put it “straight” to us without bending the truth . We select our newspapers according to our tastes and political orientation . Information transmitted by the BBC is often warped in its presentation and we react when we don’t like it . About a year ago I complained to the BBC that I could not understand the (word removed ed) accent of one of their presenters – they replied that it was their policy to include a variety of accents – I chose not to watch the programme any more .

    Providing one is sure of the ground one is treading on when making a “tough” comment , the consequences can be faced however severe ; if one is foolish enough to do so without being sure of the truth , then taking it on the chin afterwards is realistic . At the moment we are all waiting the outcome of the Chilcot investigation . We are aware that it has concluded and ready for disclosure , however , we all believe it is being stifled . I believe this sort of discrimination is as bad as saying something way off the truth and should be exposed and punished accordingly .

    I do not want to live in a society where one has to dig behind the lines to understand the truth or where the media is afraid of going public with its views . Being able to sample and assess evidence is at the very base of our legal system ; the public are educated to know when there is exaggeration and to weigh things up for themselves . The laws that we have are adequate and keep a degree of control over expression we can accept .

  20. oldtimer
    January 11, 2015

    I broadly agree with the points you make. It seems to me that, here in the UK, there are insidious threats to free speech beyond the extreme examples posed by jihadists.

    One appears to be the advance of the twitter mob and who determines when “offence”has been caused. This is open to unscrupulous manipulation by activists promoting a cause or opposing another point of view.

    Then there is the case of the BBC which, in my view, goes out of its way to suppress (by not publishing) opinions with which it disagrees. Its decision not to publish opinions contrary to the CAGW hypothesis are the clearest example of this. The BBC has also gone to extraordinary lengths and expense to conceal its role in promoting the CAGW hypothesis.

    1. agricola
      January 11, 2015

      Let’s speak English and less of the Cats Against God knows What mumbo jumbo.

      1. oldtimer
        January 11, 2015

        Well you are correct to say that CAGW (Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming) is mumbo jumbo. Its advocates these days try to disguise their meaning under blander phrases such as “global warming” and “climate change”.

    2. Peter Stroud
      January 11, 2015

      You are so right. It seems that the BBC has been taken over by some of the most extreme members of the green blob. The lack of balance in reporting the CAGW discussions is a disgrace. I gather the Aussies have similar problems with their ABC.

  21. Bob
    January 11, 2015

    The Mail reports “The Prime Minister said he had accepted an invitation from President Hollande to celebrate ‘the values behind Charlie Hebdo’. “ Such a shame that David Cameron presides over a society that is cowed into self censorship.

  22. Francis Lankester
    January 11, 2015

    CH is a Totsyite/atheist publication. I suspect many Conservatives (if we were aware of it) found the relentless destructive, often dark and insulting, questioning not to our taste. But we need Socratic gadflies in a democratic society.

    Regarding Germany before the War, Hitler actually played down his virulent Jew hatred before he gained power. The liberal Frankfurt papers (called the “poisoned kitchen” by the Nazis) and the Catholic Gerade Weg (“straight path”) pilloried Hitler-his ‘Mongol nose,’ for example, but democracy was collapsing. Free speech is not enough if democratic values are not rooted in everything we do.

  23. witteringsfromwitney
    January 11, 2015

    “To have a vibrant democracy there also have to be open and agreed limits to how far people can go in exercising their right to free speech.”

    To have a vibrant democracy (and democracy per se we do not have) there also have to be open and agreed limits to how far governments can go in exercising their right to govern (which they claim to do with the express will of the people).

  24. Man of Kent
    January 11, 2015

    Freedom of speech on global warming ?

    Simply not allowed by the BBC .

    Sceptics are routinely rubbished by the warmist elite -the ‘Green Blob’.
    Just ask Owen Patterson ,and shame on CMD for booting him out.

    1. Bazman
      January 11, 2015

      You need to come out with some credible facts and sources for these facts on global warming first. Deluded nonsense is not fact and should not be given the same coverage as such. Whats up?

      1. Edward2
        January 11, 2015

        Deluded nonsense such as Al Gores propaganda film was shown in all schools to our young impressionable children.
        Many of the predictions in that film can now be seen to not be coming true.
        Still less than one degree rise in the last 115 years, which is far less than predictions made in the early IPCC reports and the pause since 2000 is the opposite of predictions made.

        When we actually get some warming in this century I may become a little less skeptical of alarmists shrill doom laden statements.

        The point being made which Baz as usual you fail to understsnd is that there is no time given on the BBC nor other main channels to any alternative view.
        We are being fed a diet of one sided headlines as fact, but when you look at the data it currently is not following the predictions.

        1. Bazman
          January 11, 2015

          Alternative views cannot be crackpot sources. It has to be credible.

          1. Edward2
            January 12, 2015

            My source is the UK Met Office on the amount of warming since 1900.
            Is that credible enough for you?

          2. Bazman
            January 12, 2015

            It has stopped if you area Daily Mail or Mail on Sunday reader and has been debunked by non other than the Met office!
            Is the Guardian and of course deluded right whingers will not be able to see past this, but does contain sources that back this up.
            More selective sources believed as true by those with a Fox News level of political nouse. LOL! Anyone see Fox News latest nonsense on Birmingham and London today? Blame the BBC huh!? Dimwits

          3. Edward2
            January 12, 2015

            So tell us all knowing and wise Bazman, reader of only correct sources…what is the correct figure for warming from 1900.
            Do tell us
            Cant wait.

          4. Bazman
            January 13, 2015

            You are claiming as the temperature is small it is like in a cup of tea. A storm in fact?!
            Its small but a cup of tea it is not so don’t pull that one.
            Old Tory nonsense like claiming ‘the market’ is the market. It is not either.

      2. Sean O'Hare
        January 11, 2015

        You can get facts galore at the Bishop Hill and Watts Up With That amongst many other websites, but of course unless you can get them from the BBC you won’t believe anyway.

        1. Bazman
          January 12, 2015

          Both these are sites tabloid science and this is where it begins and ends. If this is your level then good luck with your job if you have one.

      3. Man of Kent
        January 11, 2015

        It seems I was taking too much for granted.

        Here are a few facts :

        There has been no global warming for 18 years 3 months now.

        The new NASA orbiting carbon observatory shows concentrations of CO2 in the southern hemisphere,where least expected -signs of tectonic activity?
        few concentrations in industrial areas.

        Thee UEA emails showed manipulation of data to fit models.This practice continues.

        Weather disasters have failed to materialise as promised

        Polar Ice is at record levels in the Antarctic and the Arctic ,predicted to be ice free by 2018 is making a comeback.

        The Climate Change Act of 2008 has been described as ‘the least justifiable
        most expensive law ever inflicted on the British people’ With great justification .However Lord Lawson has been banned from the BBC for advancing a view on policy .

        Surely we can have a debate on data and policy ?
        But according to you NO is the answer .
        The Royal Society deals in post normal science so will not speak ;academia behaves in similar fashion .

        So who do the engineers ,statisticians ,politicians,and other dissenters discuss the tenets of the new religion with ?

        1. Martyn G
          January 11, 2015

          “So who do the engineers ,statisticians ,politicians,and other dissenters discuss the tenets of the new religion with”? well, clearly none of the ‘green blob’ because they are absolutely not willing to listen. I see now that they claim that the reason there has been a hiatus in global warming is that because emissions from small volcanoes (note, not the biggies) have increased and caused a blanket that has reduced solar heat uptake and slowed warming,
          That small volcanic activity might be able to do that is perhaps not impossible, but the authors of the “Total volcanic stratospheric aerosol optical depths and implications for global climate change” and “Observed multi-variable signals of late 20th and early 21st century” have carefully ignored real evidence provided by the Smithsonian Institute of Volcanic Project showing that, sadly, such activity remains about the same as it has for the past several decades.
          But, please, let us not confuse the issue with facts!

          1. Lifelogic
            January 12, 2015

            Also if volcanoes can cause such climate changes (and are clearly unpredictable) Then how can they seriously claim to be able to predict the climate in say 100 years, without knowing volcanic activity for the next 100 years, nor indeed countless other inputs things?

  25. They Work for Us?
    January 11, 2015

    Members of any religious or other group should be free to think and do what they like in private unless it is obviously against any sensible interpretation of the law such as honour killing, arranged child marriage et etc.

    The line is crossed when there is a demand, an insistence that those who do not subscribe to their beliefs and values change their ways so as not to offend the “group”. We have been very foolish to accommodate such groups.

    There is a simple answer and that is “No, we do not do that here and will not do it. You must accept the values of the majority of the community that you wish to live amongst”.

  26. forthurst
    January 11, 2015

    I am in favour of free speech which is why I am specifically opposed to any law whatsover which constrains my right, as an Englishman, to say what I like, subject only to Common law contraints on physically threatening language. I, however, live in a country in which those who are not in point of fact English can say what they like about me but not vice-versa. This state of affairs has been brought about by the enemies of free speech who have exalted with specialness, every person who is not English to be above the English. This state of affairs has allowed the enemies of free speech to promote mass immigration and the corresponding alteration of our country which on the whole has been extremely inimical to the English people, their culture and freedoms. Do not expect me to support one enemy of free speech against another.

  27. Kenneth
    January 11, 2015

    In my humble opinion all broadcast media should subscription only, at least until there is much more choice on offer.

    This means that no content can be thrust upon the viewer or listener without them first subscribing to it.

    Newspapers already have this in operation as we choose to pay for them.

    The internet already has a vast choice and diversity and so we can choose which sites to visit from a wide choice. Eventually tv, radio and the internet may merge into the same thing by which time the diversity and volume of choice will give us plenty of chance to choose what we read, listen to and watch.

    I think laws on libel and slander etc are already sufficient but I have never liked the laws about offensive content as this could eventually lead to political opponents being jailed (not by the current government but by some future force).

    As far as offensive content is concerned, although I wouldn’t legislate against it, I think it is rude to show images that many people object to (such as the prophet Muhammad).

    1. Denis Cooper
      January 11, 2015

      You may not be aware that those Muslims who object strongly to any depiction of Mohammed also object to any depiction of Jesus, or any other prophet.

      1. Lifelogic
        January 11, 2015

        Some may do and some may not, but so what?

      2. stred
        January 11, 2015

        Let’s hope they are not upset by stained glass windows.

  28. Remington Norman
    January 11, 2015


    Much of what has come to pass is the result of regarding tolerance as an unlimited licence. It is not. Tolerating a religion or set of beliefs does not equate to approval, merely a licence to free expression. Political correctness has shifted the baseline in the condemnation of any behaviour or utterance deemed ‘offensive’. Minorities have seized on this to contrive outrage or claim offence as a stratagem to defeat free speech. If I consider a religion primitive or barbaric I should be free to say so without being arraigned. Pari passu for stigmatising those who are fat, uneducated, lazy, inept parents etc. We need a robust, self-confident society, not one artificially protected with layers of spurious ‘niceness’ and political correctness. Our society is the poorer for this left-wing can’t.

    Reply I don’t agree. I think showing each other politeness and respect is a necessary part of living in an advanced democracy.

    1. Remington Norman
      January 11, 2015

      I agree. Giving gratuitous offence is no part of free speech. However, the balance has gone too far. Even the blind rail against the idiocy of ‘visually impaired’ – they are blind and prefer to be called so. It benefits no one to pull punches with linguistic tiptoeing around the realities. Fat people are fat, not obese and some religions are primitive and barbaric. Sanitising language to avoid saying so is silly and unhelpful.

      1. Lifelogic
        January 11, 2015

        Yes giving gratuitous offence is indeed free speech. If you cannot offend (gratuitously or otherwise) you simply do not have not free speech.

    2. Alan Wheatley
      January 11, 2015

      Re Reply:

      John, is satire polite?

      RESPECT – my dictionary say “an attitude of deference, admiration”.
      I think respect has to be earned though ones doings and sayings, but equally respect can be lost.

      I think you can admire, even show deference to, someone who’s views with which you disagree. You can appreciate the quality of a well founded and presented argument without having to agree. You hope your alternative argument will be respectfully listened to, but likely it will be necessary to agree to disagree, and, hopefully, part as friends rather than as enemies.

      What is definitely not part of an advanced democracy is laws that favour one side on matters that are necessarily part of public debate.

    3. Kenneth R Moore
      January 11, 2015

      Reply I don’t agree. I think showing each other politeness and respect is a necessary part of living in an advanced democracy.

      Sorry JR but you really need to take off your politically correct spectacles on this – as a doctor of philosophy you do not need me to correct your simplistic argument that PC is all about respect and politeness.
      It’s about followers (you seem to be one) wanting to basque in the glow of moral superiority while assuming individuals classed as ‘victims’ require protection from criticism.

      As you well know there has been endemic levels of dishonestly in a vacuum of debate around a range of issues . Politicians need to grasp that Mr Farage’s position is strong because he has little time for PC think.

  29. Anonymous
    January 11, 2015

    None of the British press has published one of the ‘offending’ cartoons so that the rest of us might understand what the fuss is about.

    Why ?

    I’m sure that the world famously tolerant Islamists would understand the value of this to news reporting in our ‘free’ country. After all – the Daily Mail thinks nothing of reporting stories that Mary Magdelene married Jesus.


    What we have instead is “Je Suis Charlie !” in fake defiance of the terrorists. Well pardon me. But the terrorists have won. These protestors live in fear of holding up pictures of the cartoons themselves – this would be truly brave and defiant and also a good opportunity for Muslims to show their tolerance and support of our freedoms.

    They “live in fear” you heard me correctly – fear. As I said of the Daily Mail: they are not constrained by the desire to spare people’s feelings as we have seen that they are fully prepared to scrutinise Christianity.

    Private Eye will not offer the only fitting defiant response and we will soon see just how brave these bad boys are.

    And our supine politicians.

    “Je Suis Charlie” indeed. Their default mode to feign defiance and then strength … by attacking Nigel Farage and Ukip !

    We now have a religion and ideology which is afforded exclusive protection from scrutiny by government and by the satirist’s pen (the most potent device known in democracy.) etc ed
    Will all scrutiny of religion be banned to redress the balance ? If so then what of democracy ? (What of democracy anyway !)

    And you, John Redwood, write as though everything is normal and as though your plans mean anything at all.

    If it is illegal to be conservative in Britain (and it is) then we don’t need Conservatives.

    Your leader’s attack on Farage has backfired in my circles. He is the only politician speaking with the authentic voice of the people.

    Reply I suggest you send in things under your own name instead of as “Anonymous” to strengthen your case. I have no wish to use my site to lampoon or attack religious beliefs, sincerely held by many people, and do not do so.

    1. Max Dunbar
      January 11, 2015

      If Private Eye published the cartoons then they would undoubtedly be breaking the law as it stands in England. French law is clearly quite different which is why Charlie Hebdo and others have been able to published these cartoons.

      1. Max Dunbar
        January 11, 2015

        Sorry, should read ‘publish these cartoons.’

      2. Denis Cooper
        January 11, 2015

        Well, it’s one thing to be taken to court over something you’ve published, and Ian Hislop even turns that to his advantage, but it’s quite another thing to have terrorists murdering you and your staff and maybe your family because they don’t like something you’ve published. In any case, he much prefers to make cheap sneers at Nigel Farage and UKIP, they won’t kill him and are a much safer target for his progressive satirical wit.

        1. Anonymous
          January 11, 2015

          And that is my point entirely, Denis.

          Thank you.

          I don’t want the politicians to offend people – but nor do I want them to reward violence. And the contrast with the treatment of peaceful Ukip for stating the obvious is striking.

    2. Denis Cooper
      January 11, 2015

      But he’s right, JR. I presume that many of these people who are falsely claiming to be Charlie are imagining themselves as the heroic remnants of the slave army of Spartacus as depicted in the 1960 film, all of them prepared to offer themselves for crucifixion to save Kirk Douglas and the rest of their comrades from that fate – “I am Spartacus!” – when it isn’t like that at all.

  30. agricola
    January 11, 2015

    I have always thought that personal freedom should extend to a point where it impinges on someone else’s freedom. Put simply if I play music in my garden it should not be so loud that it upsets my neighbours. Best invite them if they like the same music.

    I believe that in Parliament you are free to say whatever you wish without fear of prosecution. I think that much the same should apply outside Parliament in terms of expressing thoughts and opinions up to the point when it becomes a libel. As a point of interest does speaker’s corner still flourish in this UK age of political correctness.

    Winston Churchill put it very well when he spoke in the USA at Fulton Missouri.

    ” We must never cease to proclaim in fearless tones the principals of freedom and the rights of man which are the joint inheritance of the English speaking world and which through Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights, the Habeas Corpus, trial by jury, and the English common law find their most famous expression in the American Declaration of Independence.”

    It could not be better put, but reflect on what governments since that of Winston have done to such a noble concept.

  31. Kenneth
    January 11, 2015

    This is what I find offensive. On the BBC news web site right now:

    “Miliband: ‘Let’s reduce energy bills””

    1. JoeSoap
      January 11, 2015

      It is just idiotically inconsistent.

      Sometime soon, somebody has to put together a Youtube resume of the snippets of this man’s incomprehensible ramblings. A man (well boy, really), not worried about increasing the price of energy by a green levy, now desperately talking about the impact of high energy costs on consumers.

      If Cameron was any good at all he would have a commanding lead by now.

    2. fedupsouthener
      January 12, 2015

      Farage would have a field day with this stupid statement. While it is true that fossil fuels have come down in price recently, renewables haven’t and neither has the enormous cost of having to improve the grid to take renewable power, in particular wind. Then don’t forget the subsidies we all have to keep paying for solar and wind, biomass etc etc. In effect I am paying for my neighbour to have cheaper electricity via his solar panels and it really makes my blood boil. The fact that they are more wealthy than my family is means that we have to subsidise their energy bills. How immoral is this? Miliband and Blair were responsible for the Climate Change Act and yet he has the audacity to tell us that energy prices should come down. They might have done if we had not had this ridiculous energy policy imposed on us all. What is going too happen when the weather doesn’t change (because it does what it wants anyway) and reducing our CO2 emissions has no effect on the weather?????? What brain storming plan have our politicians got in store for us? Something else to rob us with and leave us ever poorer!! I despair of our leaders today. No common sense between them. Just more green taxes which do no good at all. The British public are sick of it.

  32. backofanenvelope
    January 11, 2015

    We could improve matters by applying the laws of England without favour. A TV report on Abu Hamza showed him holding a prayer meeting in a London street. Why didn’t the policemen watching him, just move him on. Blocking the highway is illegal.

  33. Max Dunbar
    January 11, 2015

    Whatever the rights or wrongs of Charlie Hebdo and the cartoons, there is absolutely no doubt that our freedom of speech has been severely curtailed in this country in recent years. But it is not simply a matter of the legislation but of how that legislation is applied and the thought processes behind it. It is impossible to go in to all the reasons for these changes and the history attached to them on one blog posting, there just isn’t space here and it would be too long winded.
    All I will say is that being locked up in solitary confinement in a small concrete cell with a thin vinyl mattress on the floor for a few days makes one realise how easy it is for the authorities to intimidate and suppress freedom of speech. One is completely at the mercy of one’s captors. And the worst thing is not knowing what is going to happen next and how long the incarceration will last.

    1. Anonymous
      January 11, 2015

      Michael Palin is a firmly esconsed and much loved member of the British establishment – a national institution.

      His stock in trade was mocking our religion. He was not putting his life at risk doing so.

      How dramatically our country has changed since then.

  34. BranE
    January 11, 2015

    “Je ne suis PAS Charlie.” I personally considered the examples of their cartoons which I have seen elsewhere on the internet to have been generally tasteless, without merit and unecessarily offensive. I am an atheist who despite having no personal regard for religious beliefs accept that others do. That is their choice. It seems to me that free speech does not entitle one to act irresponsibly, and being gratuitously offensive to 1.6 billion moslems, or indeed any others, in this way was beyond the bounds of common decency.

    Having said that, committing murder as these people did can only be heartily condemned by all. What they expected to gain from their actions I cannot comprehend. etc ed?

  35. William Gruff
    January 11, 2015

    A law against ‘inciting hatred’ is a nonsense and is just another way of censoring adverse opinion.. The supposed offence cannot reasonably be proven until after some hateful act has been committed and the guilty party must always be the person who actually committed the act, rather than anyone whose words he may have taken as justification for it.

    Even if one accepts the concept of ‘hate crime’, trusting police officers or the CPS to determine what constitutes an indictable offence and what should be tolerated as ‘free speech’ is naïve at best.

    1. Denis Cooper
      January 11, 2015

      It is always a crime to incite a crime, and rightly so; but as “hatred” itself is not a crime, and nor should it ever be made a crime, it is indeed a complete nonsense for “incitement of hatred” to be a crime. On the other hand, there used to be the criminal offence of “sedition”, which included stirring up feelings of ill-will and hostility between different classes of the Queen’s subjects.

  36. Brian Tomkinson
    January 11, 2015

    I refer you to this piece by Lord Tebbit in the Telegraph:
    “Our politicians like talking about free speech. Now will they let us have it?
    Our leaders must now come out as liberals, rather than rather narrow minded opportunists.”

  37. Matt
    January 11, 2015

    Your god gets to tell you what to do, but he’s not the boss of me.
    This is the fundamental basis of multiculturalism.
    Anyone who does not accept this is incompatible with out society should be excluded from it.

  38. Alan Wheatley
    January 11, 2015

    Last year there was a programme on the BBC in which Andrew Neil (who in my opinion is one of the best broadcast journalists) conducted an interview with a guest about the “n-word”, a term new to me. The “n-word” was not used by anyone throughout the interview. Apparently, it can not even be used lexicographically! So how are we, polite speaking people, to know what word has been banned?

    I can guess what the “n-word” might be, but I can think of two “n-words”, either of which might be used in a similar context. So which one is it, or are they now both beyond the pale?

    Hopefully this is not a sign of an advanced democracy, but it does seem akin to a return to the Victorian practice of covering up the legs of their tables for fear the offence of the uncovered leg!

  39. ian
    January 11, 2015

    Same old same old, what new apart from Empire builders.

  40. Glenn Vaughan
    January 11, 2015

    Free speech? Where? What is the name of such a lucky country?

    It is certainly not here in the United Kingdom which is being crushed under the weight of political correctness.

  41. Peter van Leeuwen
    January 11, 2015

    As I don’t seem to make it pas the moderator (again) I’ll shorten my comment to:
    Inciting hatred would be a red line for me.

  42. Margaret Brandreth-J
    January 11, 2015

    It is not always the content, but the way things are written or said which offends, however no verbal or pictorial message deserves retribution in the form of genocide.In this respect nous sommes Charlie.

    Our freedom of expression is deteriorating in many circles with the British bending over backwards to be politically correct and simultaneously enduring insults which if we quietly protest are rapidly ridiculed or twisted around to be insignificant.

    As far as this blog site is concerned I trust your judgement,although I don’t always agree with what you have edited.I have sometimes tried to use it as a medium to put the truth into a public arena yet this, as other places has been unable to publish some of my life’s ruining wrongs,as you say it has not been proven .This is difficult for me to deal with.

    It is difficult for all of us to step into the objective ,then back into the personal and leave ourselves behind in polite comment.There is no other way in all seriousness. The question is could we ourselves tolerate libel and if not then we should extend that same reserve to all. There is no excuse whatsoever for murder.

    Reply I sometimes edit out your personal concerns ad accusations about places you have worked in.There are formal procedures for taking up these matters with your employer, and I think it better to do it direct rather than putting some of the allegations here on the web without follow up or response.

  43. waramess
    January 11, 2015

    To some extent you sum the situation up quite well: there should be no restrictions on free speech other than that which might breach the law. Libel, slander and fraud spring to mind.

    Otherwise there is nothing that should interfere with it.

    I believe the question arises only as a result of the sensitivities of some of the Muslim faith and as such should be given no more credence than that afforded by law to other faiths. Few seriously think that the film Life of Brian should not have been made nor that we should avoid being satirical about the Roman Catholic or Jewish faiths so why do we need to be “responsible” about the Muslim faith?

    If politicians think otherwise then they are always free to pass a law to that effect; after all they are the executive, but they should also consider what sort of monster they will be unleashing should they decide to do so

  44. Ex-expat Colin
    January 11, 2015

    Christopher Monckton informs monthly of the dire story of this planets behaviour at WUWT. So worrying at a near constant neutral for over 18 years….

    He demonstrates eloquently the fixes and fiddles that drive Gov policy to keep the poor poorer/colder and drive off business from our shores. Nothing new there.

    The loons in authority have had a go at him from far and wide and have necessarily given up. Thats along with Nursey having a go at Lord Lawson. Sticks and Stones !!

    In authority = so they must be right. Don’t think so and it simply gets worse.

  45. Anonymous
    January 11, 2015

    PPS The comparative ease with which your party lampoons and attacks Ukip (especially after the Paris atrocities) should be noted by all here.

    Clearly you have more respect for religionists than you do conservative people.

    January 11, 2015

    I believe I understand your position as a legislator and the strait-jacket limits of your free-speech.

    I do not have any limits whatsoever to my speech.

    The greatest enemy and the most successful one to anything resembling free-speech in England is The Employer. The greatest violator of Natural Law in England is The Employer and, persons in his employee who dare to call themselves management.

    So many libels covertly made through Personnel Departments/HR Departments which outside the workplace environment would not be tolerated, are made daily…defrauding genuine people of salaried employment. There are laws in regard to this but they are ineffectual and weak.
    Imprisonment should be the punishment. HR/Personnel Department staff should be reminded continually of a custodial sentence awaiting them for their sometimes ill-conceived chatty phone calls to their counter-parts in other companies. Company phones could very well need to be monitored by a legitimate outside agency as a matter of course.

    Verbal threats and workplace bullying by managers would not be tolerated in the High Street and if heard by a police officer there would be arrests. But anything goes in the workplace: a State within a State.
    The balance needs to be restored, or rather attained, for the very first time in British history.

    No , the British media has not chosen to feature cartoons of Charley Hebdo . In time… if they stick at it, they may come up with something approaching.

  47. ian
    January 11, 2015

    You do not no if you have freedom of speech an till you have said it.

  48. Mike Wilson
    January 11, 2015

    I found this post rather stuck in the throat. This from a member of a government that just a few months ago was trying to make it a criminal offence to give offence. A concerted campaign by people such as comedians, for heaven’s sake, was needed to make the government see sense. The Tories in this government are just as much in thrall to the screeching, holier-than-thou, liberal dictators as any Labour or Liberal.

    Did that bill get dropped – or was it quietly slipped into law?

  49. DaveM
    January 11, 2015

    Everyone in the UK – especially the PM – should read the main article on P15 of today’s Sun.

  50. Cary
    January 11, 2015

    There is a difference between the free speech that the state may allow and what an individual or organisation may allow on its own premises. Mr Redwood is entirely within his rights to set limits on free speech on this forum as he wishes; if you don’t like his restrictions, you can set up your own blog and say what he will not permit here.

    The state should only set limits on free speech that are compatible with the public good. So, as violence is outlawed, words that incite or celebrate violence are outlawed as they relate to an illegal action. And one may not shout ‘fire’ in a crowded place lest it have harmful physical effects. But moving beyond that becomes very problematic. Banning things that may be offensive has led in practice to only banning statements that are offensive to those with certain politically correct sensibilities. Claiming to be offended is often the cry of those who do not feel confident that they can defend their views with rational argument.

    Perniciously in the Hebdo case is the notion that the magazine brought this attack on themselves. Technically this is true but they are entitled to print what they did, as rude and immature as it may be, and to expect the law to defend them from physical attack. Margaret Thatcher was right on this matter in her defence of Salman Rushdie. She knew he hated her but considered it outrageous that a foreign power could threaten the life of a British subject for writing a book.

  51. Old Albion
    January 11, 2015

    It’s now 21.50hrs and the post I made on Mr Redwoods blog this morning, has not appeared.
    Quite ironic that on a subject entitled ‘Free speech’ My free speech has been censored.

  52. Richard
    January 11, 2015

    I suppose we have never had complete freedom of speech although scientific knowledge and application over the centuries to produce wealth and social cohesion and the diminution of religious beliefs and intolerance did bring us very close to this ideal.

    But our rulers have decided that we needed to become a multicultural, multi language and multi legal code country and set about this through mass immigration.

    As a result, religious intolerance is returning and consequently freedom of speech has had to be curtailed to keep the peace.

    I find it amazing that our rulers, having seen how the religious segregation of schools in Northern Ireland led to such troubles, are now happy to promote religious schools in mainland UK.

    Even the scientific community has lost its capability of debating and examining theories when it suppresses all those who disagree with CAGW.

    We are heading back to the middle ages.

  53. dave roderick
    January 11, 2015

    to mutch goverment dictates what you can say and do
    The undemocratic order of things

    Ronald Reagan justifiably earned the nickname: The Great Communicator – and it is unashamedly from that that I quote and paraphrase part of his Final Address on 11th January 1989 in much of what follows. It also has great resonance when read in conjunction with my preceding post.

    Currently the undemocratic order of things means that through more and more rules and regulations and confiscatory taxes, the government is taking more of our money, more of our options, more of our freedom, more of our culture and more of our freedom of speech. Almost all the world’s constitutions are documents in which governments tell the people what their privileges are – and where the constitution does not, legislation fills in the gaps.

    People need to be reminded that that man is not free unless government is limited. There’s a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: As government expands, liberty contracts.

    A revolution is required and it can quite easily – and peacefully – be enacted with three little words: ‘We the people’. ‘We the People’ tell the government what to do; it doesn’t tell us. ‘We the People” are the driver; the government is the car. ‘We the people’ decide where it should go, by what route, and how fast.

    Wherever one looks on/in the media – be that social or mainstream – all that is seen or heard is people complaining about ‘government’; yet it appears very, very few seem to do anything about the problem, but complain.

    Because of the fact that our liberties contract as government expands it is time that ‘We the people’ put up our hands, palm outwards, and said: ‘Stop!’ – and in so doing took a long hard look at this – and adopted it!

    It is only by that do ‘We the people’ regain our freedom.

  54. Kenneth Hyde
    January 11, 2015

    Free speech comes when anyone can say, or publish by any media whatever they want. English law should give “offended” the right to sue for slander or libel, or to take recourse to the police if violence or threats occur. The laws relating to slander, libel and criminal acts should always be framed to promote and protect the right of free speech.
    Nothing else is necessary.
    The law must apply and be applied equally to everyone. No exceptions, no concessions.

  55. petermartin2001
    January 11, 2015

    These outrages in Paris might cause us all to reflect on on core principles. I suspect most of us would, for many years, have simply felt that religious beliefs were a matter for individuals and that they should be allowed to conduct their religion in their own way.

    After all, we would have thought, we may not agree but they aren’t hurting anyone. But what when they do start to hurt someone? We’ve seen that increasingly in Europe and America in recent years. It’s not just a matter of offensive cartoons. Death threats have been issued to journalists who have questioned the historical accuracy of the Koran. Young couples have been killed for daring to form relationships which haven’t been to their families’ liking.

    It’s not only Muslims who have behaved badly. Medical staff have been killed in the name of Christianity. Young men and women have undergone psychological torture to try to ‘cure’ them of homosexual tendencies. Young children are terrorised by stories of them burning in hell for some slight misdemeanor.

    If children are indoctrinated to believe in irrational concepts they will likely behave irrationally in their adult lives too. It’s got to stop. Just for starters, the State needs to establish secular values and end all financial support for schools which are segregated on the basis of the parents’ religion.

  56. Mike Wilson
    January 12, 2015

    This free speech malarkey everyone is so keen on, and proud of … is this the same country that banned some bloke from coming here recently because he was teaching people how to be successful chatting up women (or something like that).

    Seems freedom of speech is very selective.

  57. Steven Resco
    January 12, 2015

    Hi John,

    Free speech *must* be unlimited, otherwise it is instead freedom of limited speech. All opinions must be allowed to be aired unfettered no matter how vile, unfair or distasteful one might find them.

    We have strong recourse in Common Law that allows us to seek recompense against those that cause us harm or loss. So, if we can prove that someone has used his speech to cause us such harm or loss, then we will be compensated at his expense.

    But to ban him per se from saying it, to limit expression of his thoughts to prevent people telling the truth (as all limits will unwittingly do), is a far darker world than one in which I would like to live.

    On a personal note, I blog under a pseudonym, as although I don’t (yet) say anything for which I could be prosecuted (I think!), the climate of the mob who everyday seek to supress and demonise those that have thoughts different to theirs and the searchable history of my writing that may profess past opinion that today is OK but tomorrow is not, prevents me from being open, else I risk my career and my family’s lifestyle. Cowardly, I know, but entirely practical in the circumstances / current climate.

  58. ChrisS
    January 12, 2015

    William, you completely fail to grasp the principle of Free Speech :

    You may not agree with some or all of the output of the BBC but if you sincerely believe in Free Speech you would defend their right to broadcast it.

    How the BBC is paid for is not a matter to be debated here and now. I would only say that, by comparison with Sky, it’s a bargain.

    However returning to the main topic, nobody would seriously argue that the editorial policy of the BBC is not truly independent of (this ) Government. That’s as it should be.

    The problem is that the people in charge are almost all Labour or LibDem supporters who recruit new members of staff in their own image, thus perpetuating the left-leaning propaganda it broadcasts. No, I don’t like it either !

    Making the BBC more fairly representative by changing some of the people at the top is a fair objective.

    Closing it down because you don’t like the message would be the act worthy of a dictator and a clear interference with the principle of Free Speech.

  59. Kenneth R Moore
    January 12, 2015

    It is curious Mr Redwood’s busy period coincided with his post on the thorny issue of free speech. Ironically my own post concerning ‘the politics of denial’ has also been binned. Perhaps we are also in a state of denial about the risibly narrow range of opinion that passes for free speech in modern Britain.
    Maybe I expected more from a man that wrote ‘The Death of Britain’..a book that chronicles the vandalism inflicted upon Britain by the Blair government driven by a politically correct ideology.

    I had hoped our kind host would find the courage to print a few more responses so we can all read or comment upon the ‘interesting issues he alluded to. It seems that fear of the screeching mob that dismisses so much of genuine concerns as ‘irresponsible’ is the most important consideration.

    Reply I published most of them. I am receiving far too many long posts and do not have the time to read carefully and edit where necessary

    1. Kenneth R Moore
      January 13, 2015

      Thanks Mr Redwood.

      Myself and I’m sure other appreciate you have limited time to spend maintaining this site as one of the more active Mp’s . The level of response you received is just a reflection of the unease felt around issues of censorship and what opinions are allowed to be expressed.

      If I may take one example, the Metropolitan Police closed a road in central London so that a Mr Abu Hamza could preach to his followers. I don’t remember any parliamentarian or other public official led action condemning them for doing so – the only resistance came from the tabloid press. How unhined does this decision seem in light of recent terrorist atrocities and his recent imprisonment in the US for terrorist offences.
      There are those like me that hold the belief that there is a ‘culture of fear’ in pubic life that prevents you and others like you, speaking out on important matters. Your class as legislators are blinded by political correctness but we as outsiders, for now, still see the world as it really is.

      1. Kenneth R Moore
        January 15, 2015

        It would be interesting to hear about a typical working day for John Redwood and other Mp’s. What happens in between votes etc. and how often do you need to attend parliament and constituency meetings ?.How are tasks prioritised , working hours that kind of thing.
        Mrs Thatcher famously survived on just a few hours sleep and worked into the early hours…I can imagine JR working in a similar vain to maintain this site and carry out all his other duties.

        Reply I am sorry I did not moderate yesterday, but I was speaking in Exeter and in New Milton, and had to spend 9 hours travlling, either on trains with no wifi or driving. An MP’s job is never done and you need to be on call whenever.

        1. Kenneth R Moore
          January 16, 2015

          Thanks Dr Redwood. I salute your hard work and dedication to your vocation – I can’t imagine many fellow mp’s would be in a position to give an engaging speach once, let alone twice after travelling all day.
          Enjoy your weekend.

  60. Bazman
    January 12, 2015

    Interesting that my post on showing solidarity and muslims was deleted, but BBC panorama pretty much said most of it for me. Watch it right whiners before you shout BBC! You might like it. Even better make comments without watching.Oh the irony. LOL!

  61. Warren Randall
    January 12, 2015

    I think, where satire is concerned, the only limits are within the current laws of the land. People should be allowed to publish cartoons mocking religions, therefore, but people should have the choice not to see such imagery. The problem arises when someone who is greatly offended by an image is forced to see it. That is harrassment, which again is illegal.

    For Television broadcasts some kind of warning prior to transmission would suffice.

    There is no case from those who seek to be offended.

  62. Qubus
    January 13, 2015

    Please will someone correct me if I am wrong. but a couple of years ago, wasn’t a play to be staged at a theatre in Leicester that offended the Siik population, and wasn’t there a demonstration outside the theatre, and wasn’t the production banned, or cancelled?

    So much for free speech here in the UK.

  63. Kenneth R Moore
    January 13, 2015

    Scientists sharing a common group think approach, a similar set of assumptions and following the money trail of the climate change religion are going to pretty much all reach the same conclusion. Especially in an environment where dissenters get pigeon holed as being ‘oddballs or eccentrics. Denial is not a smart career move.

    Just my 2p worth as an outsider that has spent a good part of my youth studying Engineering and Science. The whole theory (that’s what it is a theory) doesn’t stack up and ‘science’ that would be torn up if promoted in any other sphere is treated with great reverence by the climate change community.

    It’s quite probable that the scientists are correct and that CO2 emissions do cause global warming but we don’t know a) by how much and b)if it really matters.
    What is certain is that the climate change models are junk and have proved to be wildly inaccurate alarmist rubbish.

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