Tony Blair’s plans to tackle extremism will stifle free speech

Index on Censorship considers Tony Blair’s proposals on hate speech to be dangerous and divisive. Blair, who is to be appointed chair of the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation (ECTR) has defended plans to lower the the barriers on what constitutes incitement to violence and make Holocaust denial illegal.

“These suggestions — far from protecting people — are likely to have the opposite effect, driving extremist views underground where they can fester and grow,” said Jodie Ginsberg, CEO of Index on Censorship. “Instead, we should be protecting free expression, including speech that may be considered offensive or hateful, in order to expose and challenge those views.”

Individuals should always be protected from incitement to violence and that protection already exists in law, as do stringent laws on hate speech. Further legislation is not needed.