Thursday, September 07, 2017

Who are the real "fascists"?

Among the democratic rights hard fought for by the people of this country are freedom of speech and freedom of association.

Every political party has and should have the right to hold a conference. Those of a different political persuasion have the right, should they so desire, to held a peaceful demonstration outside to promote their own views. Prior to 2015 the presence of people holding such alternative views outside Conservative conference was almost always within the limits of lawful free speech.

Conservative conference 2015 was a rather different matter and some people went over the top.

Judging by the Manchester Evening News which reports that those attending this year's Conservative conference in the city "can expect a rough welcome" we may be about to see something similar again.

Of course, some of those who were protesting just made themselves look silly - as when a friend of mine born and bred in Salford and who has been elected by the people of that City as one of their councillors was told to "go home" by people with Southern accents.

Nevertheless, there may be some this time, as there were in 2015, who need to understand the distinction between peacefully promoting your own views outside a conference, which is a democratic right, and trying to intimidate, threaten or disrupt it, which is attempting to deprive others of their democratic rights.

Although we can bet that "fascist" will probably be close behind "Tory scum" among the charming epithets thrown at representatives at the conference - and others such as cleaners, caterers, electricians, stall-holders and journalists - it is actually the people who cross the line between peaceful protest on the one hand and intimidation and disruption on the other, who are the real fascists.

I can tell you something else. That sort of protest will only strengthen the resolve of every Conservative attending the conference. And being treated like that will not make the large numbers of non-Conservatives attending - guests, stall-holders, cleaners and other staff of the organisations within the conference perimeter - any more likely to vote for the left either.

No comments: