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What’s happening to the right to free speech?

03 December, 2020 — By John Gulliver

Professor Moshé Machover

IS there a flaw in the way the suspension of Jeremy Corbyn as a member of the Parliamentary Labour Party is being reported generally in the media?

Carefully read the reams of reports and they all set out to show why Corbyn was suspended, who else has been suspended, and what their political offences were.

This week two “officers” of Hampstead and Kilburn Labour Party, Pete Firmin and Bridget Dunne, were suspended after a allowing debate on Thursday on a motion to restore the “whip” removed from Corbyn by the general secretary, David Evans, and the party leader Sir Keir Starmer.

To add another name, I can now include Professor Moshé Machover, a well-known mathematician who was suspended on Tuesday from membership of Hampstead and Kilburn Labour Party, for comments in an email deemed to offend party rules.

I do not intend to repeat the words and thoughts said to be anti-semitic that led to these various suspensions. Presumably, they are open to argument and interpretation, best left to a court and the cold, analytical mind of a judge. What should be looked at is the right of party members to express their views, the right of free speech.

To suppress that right is to take the road to a political dictatorship which, at times, has shadowed Labour for nearly a century as it upheld the right the of the Parliamentary Labour Party to be beyond reproach.

Where is free speech in all this? Where is this basic human right guaranteed under Human Rights laws? If you suppress it, you will drive it under ground as it was driven in the Cold War in the Soviet Union – you will create dissidents and the equivalent of an “underground press”.

Today, dissidents will take refuge in the social media to retain their anonymity.

It should not be a matter of what the critics said of official policy but their right to say it. Take that away, and you end up with a political dictator­ship, and a politically lifeless body.

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