Provocative processions

Oliver Kamm responds to my post on Anjem Choudary’s proposed march through Wootton Bassett, where I asked if previous attempts to stop provocative processions, such as Oswald Mosley’s attempt to march through Cable Street, were wrong:

Yes, those who tried to stop the British Union of Fascists from marching in the East End in October 1936 were wrong. The BUF had a democratic right to march in peacetime, and the attempt to stop them did them a power of good. Mosley was looking for a way to call it off anyway, so that he could get to Berlin and secretly marry Diana Mitford Guinness in Goebbels’s drawing room (which he managed to do two days later). Support for Mosley in the East End increased after the Battle of Cable Street, as did antisemitic violence. Thugs attacked Jews and their properties, in the so-called Pogrom of Mile End, a week later.

In the end, despite an appalling failure among leaders of the main parties in the 1930s (Stanley Baldwin and Neville Chamberlain, Herbert Samuel and the ineffably foolish George Lansbury) to recognise the threat from the dictators, it was democratic politics that defeated Mosley and secured economic recovery, not opposition on the streets. When he was interned in 1940, Mosley was a permanently discredited figure.

Read the full post here

The respect agenda

Index on Censorship contributor Oliver Kamm is appalled by Yale University Press’s censorship of The Cartoons that Shook the World by Jytte Klausen, an account of the Danish Mohammed cartoons controversy. Yale decided to publish the book about the cartoons without, er, actually publishing the cartoons.

Oliver describes Yale’s decision as “craven”, and decries the newfound idea that “respect” for religion is a legitimate reason to curb free speech.

Geert Wilders banned from UK

Dutch MP Geert Wilders has been told he will face arrest if he attempts to enter the UK. Wilders had been invited to London by Lord Pearson of Rannoch, and was scheduled to host a screening and discussion of his controversial film Fitna. But Mr Wilders yesterday received this letter (pdf), from the Home Office, warning him against entering the country.

In a statement, a Home Office spokesman said: ‘The Government opposes extremism in all its forms. It will stop those who want to spread extremism, hatred and violent messages in our communities from coming to our country and that was the driving force behind tighter rules on exclusions for unacceptable behaviour that the Home Secretary announced on in October last year.’

This at least seems consistent: Almost exactly a year ago, on 14 February 2008, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Sheikh Yusuf al Qaradawi was denied a visa for entry to the UK, despite having visited previously as the guest of then London Mayor Ken Livingstone.

Back then, Abdul-Rehman Malik wrote on that support for the decision ‘reveals the extent to which Britain’s political class is uneasy and unsure about its own “values”, the strength of its democracy and the importance of public debate.’


This case, though, if anything, is more worrying, as Wilders is a democratically elected politician from an EU member state who should, in theory, be entirely free to travel to another EU member state and express his opinions there.

Meanwhile, Wilders may still face charges in the Netherlands. Read Oliver Kamm on why he should be supported here.