Monthly Newsletter

Get ready to rumble

This is our third FSU newsletter. In case you missed the first one – or hadn’t signed up at that point – we’re archiving the newsletters on our website here. You may have to log in to view them since that page is only visible to members. (Your login details were sent to you when you first signed up.)

At the end of March, when the UK went into lockdown, rights that the British people have taken for granted for hundreds of years were suspended, some dating back to the 12th Century. As the former Supreme Court judge Lord Sumption says, it has been the greatest interference with personal liberty in our history – and that includes wartime. The right to free speech was not suspended on March 23rd, but it has often felt as if it was, particularly for those who dissent from the official coronavirus narrative. In the past nine weeks, our members have been kicked out of Facebook groups, suspended by Twitter and had their videos removed by YouTube, all for challenging the prevailing orthodoxy about the pandemic and how the Government should respond to it. We’ve been doing what we can to defend them, but it’s not easy in the current climate in which any form of dissent is seen as “dangerous”. The pandemic seems to have created an army of petty martinets, ready with their red pens to censor anyone who doesn’t subscribe to Covid orthodoxy.

Ofcom

Among the cases we’ve taken up is that of Eamonn Holmes, reprimanded by the broadcasting watchdog Ofcom for supposedly undermining public confidence in the Government’s social distancing rules. Holmes’s sin, according to the regulator, was to say on ITV’s This Morning that the theory linking 5G masts and the symptoms ascribed to coronavirus deserved to be discussed in the mainstream media, even though he agreed with his co-presenter that it was “not true and incredibly stupid”. Ofcom said this view – the view that the theory deserved a public hearing, not that it was plausible – was “ill-judged and risked undermining viewers’ trust in advice from public authorities and scientific evidence” and could lead to “significant harm to the public”.

Holding their feet to the fire

This is our second FSU newsletter. In case you missed the first one – or hadn’t signed up at that point – we’re archiving the newsletters on our website here. You may have to log in to view them since that page is only visible to members. (Your log in details were sent to you when you first signed up.)

The Free Speech Union now has six members of staff, including me. You can see who we are and what we do by clicking here and scrolling down to the “Company Staff” section. We’re all working part-time and we don’t have an office or any office overheads – which is just as well, given that we wouldn’t be able to go to the office even if we had one. Incredibly, the Government doesn’t regard free speech activists as “key workers”.

Silencing Doctors in Wuhan

That’s not at all incredible, obviously. Defending free speech isn’t considered a priority during the coronavirus crisis when people’s lives are at risk, but when it’s over and the post-mortem begins there will be an important story to tell about how the suppression of free speech by the Chinese authorities led to the pandemic. After all, if the doctors who first raised the alarm in Wuhan had been allowed to air their concerns in public, as opposed to being arrested and forced to confess to “spreading rumours” and “making untrue comments”, the outbreak could have been nipped in the bud. Researchers at Southampton University have concluded that if the Chinese authorities had introduced a range of interventions (early detection, case isolation and travel restrictions) three weeks earlier than it did, cases would have been reduced by 95%. In this instance, the suppression of free speech has been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people – possibly millions – as well as catastrophic damage to the global economy. You can be sure the Free Speech Union will underline this connection when the crisis is over.

Defend Trevor Phillips’ Right to Speak

Thank you for supporting the Free Speech Union.

We held our launch party on Wednesday, 26th February. You can see the speeches that were made and some other footage from the party on our YouTube channel. Some members have asked why they weren’t invited. Unfortunately, the venue wasn’t big enough. But we are in the process of organizing our first event and will be in touch about that soon.


Trevor Phillips

One of the speakers at the launch was Trevor Phillips, the anti-racism campaigner and former Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission. (You can watch his speech on our YouTube channel here.) Today brings news that Trevor has been suspended from the Labour Party for “Islamophobia”. This is a ridiculous allegation. He is one of a handful of public figures to express concern about the sexual abuse of children in northern towns by gangs largely made up of Pakistani Muslim men, as well as the sympathy shown by a substantial proportion of British Muslims towards the motives of the Charlie Hebdo killers. Drawing attention to these issues isn’t a form of “hate speech” and it doesn’t constitute “Islamophobia”. On the contrary, we need to have an honest conversation about the failure of a minority of religious people to fully embrace British values, whether some conservative Muslims or some ultra-Orthodox Jews, if people of all faiths are going to work out how to get along together in a multi-faith society. I’ve started a petition calling on the Labour Party to drop these trumped-up charges, apologise to Trevor Phillips and fully reinstate his membership. He should be applauded for his bravery, not punished for “crossing a line”. Please sign the petition here.