(08/05/18) By our branch blogger, Cliff Edge
Here I was in a crowd, that I estimated was about 2,000 strong, standing just outside the entrance to Downing Street on my right and the Ministry of Defence building on my left. That was surreal enough. But it was especially surreal when one of the speakers said ‘fuck’, several times. And then ‘scrotum’ (when comparing his scrotum in relation to Islam). Or talked about having the rights to get your tits out if you want (the suggestion was that those poor oppressed Muslim women in Dubai want to do just that on their beaches but cannot).
About 50 yards in front of me was a small stage (with a banner along the front so you could only see the speakers from the chest up, a little annoying from deep in the crowd), and to its right a large video screen. The event was the Day for Freedom march and rally, apparently called because Tommy Robinson had been banned permanently from Twitter and decided we needed to protest about it and the inexorable suppression of free speech in the UK.
I must confess I’d only heard of the march two days before and solely by accident on social media – I’m not sure we, the UKIP Cambs and SE Cambs branch, followed Tommy Robinson on Twitter (something we’ve corrected now by following him on Facebook). I’d come really out of curiosity, and also loyalty to UKIP (Gerard Batten was attending), and the Right Wing ‘movement’ in general, and to make my stand against the creeping Islamification of the UK. Yes, freedom of speech is being eroded in the UK but I see it as part of the bigger assault on our values by the creeping cancer of political correctness and what I call ‘liberal fundamentalism’.
We were blessed with the weather. Due to poor communication by the organisers, I didn’t make the start of the march at 1.30pm at Speakers’ Corner having been told to find the rally in Whitehall from 3pm. I met the quarter of a mile long column coming down Pall Mall near Trafalgar Square and joined it.
Outside Downing Street a range of personalities from the Right and the ‘free speech’ movement gave short speeches. The summary by Mic Wright of GQ Magazine is as good as any: ‘The speakers included self-described ‘internet super villain’ Milo Yiannopoulos, Canadian journalist Lauren Southern (via video after she was refused entry to the UK), UKIP leader Gerald Batten, Markus Meechan (aka Count Dankula aka the man who taught a dog to do the Hitler salute when it hears the phrase ‘gas the Jews’ and was prosecuted for doing so), For Britain founder Anne Marie Waters, Vice co-founder and Proud Boys creator Gavin McInnes, Breitbart News’ London editor-in-chief Raheem Kassam, and Tommy Robinson. The line-up also included faded comedian Liam Tuffs alongside singers and a drag artist, whose presence caused consternation among some attendees and activists.’
Although I had to leave just before the end, I have to say that I was disappointed overall with the content and tone of the speeches. One or two speakers excepted, I felt that no one had really come seriously prepared to address the sacred cow of free speech and its erosion, and the tone wasn’t serious enough. It felt more like a jamboree than a political gathering. From the point of credibility, the event was already seriously undermined from the start because it was organised by Tommy Robinson. Whatever your view of him (mine is that he’s a necessary and effective counter to the Left and liberalism), he’s a very polarising figure. We were never going to get any positive coverage with it being organised by him although it would be rightly argued it wouldn’t have happened without him!
I think a bit of deeper thought should have gone into what was said. Some got it right. Count Dankula told us that during his 2 year trial, as the prosecution realised they couldn’t find any history of racism by him to prove their case, they presumed to imagine what his thoughts were instead, and present this as fact to the court. Gerard Batten referred to the increasing instances of the authorities now stating that if a person or ‘victim’ believes that what someone said or wrote was motivated by prejudice or hate then they would class this as a hate ‘incident’. Quoting from the Public Order Act of 1986 and the most recent police and CPS interpretation
of that (my italics) he said “(al)though what the ‘perpetrator’ has said or done may not be against the law, their reasons for doing it are, this means it may be possible to charge them with an offence”. As he and others said, this is an Orwellian nightmare.
The American speakers, I felt, more elequently exposed the contradictions, injustices, and stupidity of the politically-correct-driven clampdown on free speech, perhaps because it is imprinted in their heads from the earliest of ages that the 1st Amendment gives them the right to speak freely. I was also disappointed that the discussion freedom of speech did not seem to broach the subject of minorities having a disproportionate, in fact now over-whelming influence, over that of the ‘silent majority’. This isn’t new – I recall that back in 1983 Enoch Powell, no less, criticised the Queen for her Christmas broadcast and its content because “even here, in the UK, she is more concerned for the susceptibilities & prejudices of a vociferous minority of newcomers than for the great mass of her subjects.” He was right then and perhaps foresaw what we are experiencing now – an all-out assault on not just our free speech but our way of life and our values. Why must we, the majority, change our lifestyles and values to mollify those smaller sections of society, and those in the liberal media who purport to speak for them, who choose to be different via their religion, sexuality, attitude to what people say and think, behaviour, and so on? That to me is bigger and encompasses the freedom of speech issue.
On the plus side, the police, who were out in large numbers, did a great job in managing the event and keeping the Antifa scum away (although I gather latterly some protesters did break through and cause a bit of trouble). The turnout was good, as was the behaviour in general. Can I make a quick point to those people who sat or stood on the bases of the statues of Field Marshals Montgomery, Alanbrooke and Slim and used them as tables for their beer and food? Have some respect next time. We shouldn’t behave like the scumbag who swung from the Union flag on the Cenotaph during the student fees protest in 2010.
But it was nice to see quite a few ex-military types marching in their uniforms or medals. I met a 72-year-old, who had spent 22 years in the Royal Engineers, wearing his blazer, medals and beret who attended because he felt that what he had served to protect was under threat from this assault on freedom of expression. The mainstream media (MSM) in the form of broadcast channels didn’t cover the event (no surprises there) and since then the print and online MSM reporting has been very negative (no surprises there). According to GQ, Russia Today heavily promoted the event in advance. That’s not good given the accusations of Russian involvement in British politics but if you liberal MSM won’t cover it, don’t complain if others see an opportunity!
Let me end with this. Gerard Batten said that free speech in the United States is protected under the US constitution. Isn’t time that we had our rights put down in similar form? Without something enshrined in law it seems that our ever liberal-leaning politicians will be able to continue eroding our liberties. Whatever we do, we must organise ourselves better. The haters on the Left are. Food for thought.
The march to WhitehallGerard Batten MEP speechCount Dankula’s speechScreen video played at rally MSM coverageGuardian/Observer report 1Guardian/Observer report 2Evening Standard reportGQ reportSosoGayreport