When emails from the group Britain First began turning up in my inbox, I took it for granted that it was just another unsavoury fringe-group, described as ‘Neo-Nazi’ or just ‘Nazi’ in the British press (Wikipedia calls it ‘fascist’), and that its claims of politically-motivated persecution were simply typical paranoia. I also guessed that, despite its protests, the recent jailing of its leader and deputy leader for 36 weeks and 16 weeks for ‘religious harassment’ were for real offences (Britain First claims they were jailed merely for calling attention to Muslim sex-grooming gangs preying on British girls).
Now, however, I am not quite so sure that that is all there is to it. Certainly none of their (unrequested) emails to me, though certainly intemperate in language and perhaps overfond of the word ‘traitor’, could be called Nazi. They would, I imagine, admire the likes of Winston Churchill, Hitler’s nemesis. I have seen no anti-Semitism there. On the contrary, they have offered ‘solidarity patrols’ to protect Jewish areas of British cities. There is certainly nothing in terms of offensiveness comparable to the behaviour of the Muslims who assail worshippers outside English churches waving placards, BEHEAD THOSE WHO INSULT ISLAM. Britain First may have a case for its complaints of selective political persecution by the Conservative government.
In other cases the British police and political class seem prepared to cast the ancient principles of British law and the value of free speech aside to silence any right-wing, particularly any anti-Muslim, speakers (anti-Christian and anti-Semitic speakers get much more of a free pass).
Even Hyde Park’s Speakers’ Corner, a time-honoured institution and haven of free speech, of which Britain has been proud, and where free speech has been protected by Act of Parliament since 1872, is now being censored in a one-directional manner. According to jihad-watcher Robert Spencer, right-wing blogger Tommy Robinson tried recently to speak there but was stopped by police. Later, he managed to speak, but was attacked by rioting Muslims determined to silence him. Police did little to stop the rioters, focusing more on the British people there.
Tony Thomas, former economics editor of the Age, before that one of my chief mentors as a reporter on the West Australian, and one of Australia’s best professional journalists, has come up with another alarming story on the persecution of the expression of politically-incorrect opinion.
‘Her Majesty’s Government thwarted an attempt by Generation Identity’s Austrian leader Martin Sellner, 29, to speak at Speaker’s Corner on “threats to free speech in the modern world”. He had been scheduled to speak at a Ukip youth-member forum but leftists as usual threatened violence and the forum was cancelled, re-scheduled, and cancelled again for the same reason. He then forewarned authorities that he would give his speech instead at Speaker’s Corner.
‘Theresa May’s “conservative” government responded by detaining him on arrival on March 9 at Luton Airport, claiming he was a racist who would provoke violence among spectators in Hyde Park (i.e. by leftists). As persona non grata he was deported two days later …
‘His lady friend Brittany Pettibone, 25, a Kansas-raised gonzo YouTuber and author, was with him and got the same treatment. Her main work this year has been filming a documentary on the murderous attacks on white farmers in South Africa. Sellner, with Pettibone accompanying, was a leader of the “Defend Europe” campaign last August, ineffectually targeting boats run by NGOs which sought to “rescue” illegal immigrants off the Libyan coast and bring them to Italy.
‘Pettibone was deemed by UK authorities a threat to civilisation because she planned to interview Tommy Robinson, whose past included anti-Islamic polemics and stunts leading the English Defence League (EDL), along with gaol terms for a variety of “political” and ordinary offences. A complex character, he is by no means the Satan he is officially designated…’
‘Pettibone tweeted the official letter explaining her deportation. It is vulgar, Orwellian and weirdly illiterate. Any sane person would dub it a hoax. It maintained that this intelligent, outspoken young woman threatened “the fundamental interests of society”, no less, and would “insight” local tensions:
To: Brittany Alicia Merced Pettibone:
You have asked for leave to enter the United Kingdom as a visitor for 5 day (sic) but as you stated in your interview, I have reason to believe that you are seeking admission to the United Kingdom to interview Tommy Robinson – a far right leader whose materials and speeches incite racial hatred.
You stated at the interview that you will be filming your boyfriend Martin Sellner speech (sic) at speakers (sic) corner (sic) in London Hyde Park (sic). Your boyfriend admitted in the interview to being a co-founder of the Austrian branch of ‘Generation Identity’ which is viewed in the UK as a right wing organization.
Furthermore, Your (sic) boyfriend have (sic) in his possession the Leaflets (sic) with scenarios regarding (sic) possible violence in his speech.
I believe that your planned activities whilst in the United Kingdom bear (sic) a serious threat to the fundamental interests of society and are likely to insight (sic) tensions between local communities in the United Kingdom…’
When, according to a survey of 3,000 British Muslims conducted in December, 2016, more than 40 per cent wanted sharia law, and 38 per cent blamed either the Jews or the US government for the 9/11 terrorist attacks (only 4 per cent blamed al-Qa’eda) the alarm of ordinary patriotic British people is understandable. It should surely be possible to voice concerns about this and related matters without being labelled, and treated, as a Nazi, a racist or a danger to the realm by a Conservative government.
Meanwhile in Scotland, YouTube personality Count Dankula (Mark Meechan) was convicted in Glasgow Sheriff’s Court of a hate crime, and faces two months in prison. He recorded a video of a dog giving a Nazi salute.
Four years ago, in King Alfred the Great’s ancient capital of Winchester, another speaker for a small patriotic party was arrested for quoting Winston Churchill’s strictures on Islam from his 1899 book, The River War, telling of battles in which he took part against Muslim fanatics in the Sudan. When an Englishman is arrested in England for quoting Winston Churchill, one can only regard the culture as beyond deranged.
Subscribe to The Spectator Australia today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator Australia for less – just $20 for 10 issues