Posted by: secretperson | November 26, 2007

More on BNP at Oxford

So the members of Oxford Union have voted to allow Nick Griffin and David Irving to speak in tonight’s free speech debate (Telegraph report here. Most comments on BBC news Have Your Say support the Oxford Union. So do 78% (at time of writing) polled at the side of the Telegraph News section. Max Hastings writes in support of the OU, but the comments here are more mixed.

Over at Witanagemot Club opinion splits too. Womble on Tour and Wonko in support the OU, Norfolk Blogger and Letters from a Tory are against their decision.

I think OU made a mistake. Inviting both Griffin and Irving gives too much prominence to the racist right. It may give the impression that only right wing views are ‘censored’ therefore add to their martyr complex. Although of course they may have a point. It also puts the free speech argument in the mouths of those many people will have an aversion to. Will people vote against free speech because of who expounds the views. It is a position that should be supported accross the political spectrum.
Maybe inviting an Islamic extremist who’d also come up against the law, on the same team as Griffin would have made for an interesting debate. Would they defend each other’s free speech? A comment on my previous post on this suggested a good question for the speakers to be asked. I agree, and it’s also a good question for us all to ask ourselves. Though I am no BNP supporter I find Griffin’s pronouncements (possibly toned down for public consumption) to be less offensive to me than some of the ‘Mad Mullahs’ ones I have heard. It is much bigger challenge to support free speech for those you strongly disagree with. But I believe I would do that.

I think this is an important one for English Parliament supporters to address. It is easy to be lumped together with the BNP as ‘nationalists’. I don’t want to be sucked into any bans and I want our opinions to be clear, so differences with the BNP can be highlighted. Parties like the English Democrats are a non-racist party who could win votes off people who see the BNP as the only alternative to mainstream parties with respect to immigration and the EU, but are put off by their emphasis on race. Banning them only gives them more ammunition, exposing their views allows us to make informed decisions. Free speech for all.


  1. I agree with your views overall. I think the decision to invite them was all about the OU getting publicity at any cost , but I cannot understand anyone wanting to give racists credibility,

  2. Well it’s a case of credibility vs martyrdom complex I guess. I think my real point was not that they should have been invited, but that giving in to protests can be a slippery slope. I guess it was a publicity stunt. There’s a chat Peter Tatchell did with Luke Tryl over on 18 Doughty Street, maybe he justifies himself there. Personally I think it’d be fascinating to discuss politics with Nick Griffin, though I don’t have to worry about lending him any credibility!

  3. The ‘anti-fascists’ gave them so much publicity with that disgraceful display outside the Union.

    They should have joined the debate and ensured that the speakers were roundly defeated. I don’t support Irving or Griffin (I find their views abhorent) but in this I’m inclined to say that it’s the anti-fascists that are the bigger fascists, and they’re making martyrs of Griffin and Irving who, however repugnant, should be allowed to speak freely.

  4. One thing that bugs me, Toque, is all this use of the word fascist. The series of names used to define the BNP and friends are so ill defined. Fascist, Nazi, Racist, Nationalist, Right-wing. All lumped into one pot of generic insults. I could probably accurately be described as nationalist (supporting the establishment of an English nation state) and right-wing (of the old school small state type), but I am no Nazi. It’s a pity there aren’t better terms to describe the various sides. The BNP are racist statists? Those opposed are certainly anti-free speech but is fascist right? Lots of questions, but I don’t have any answers.

  5. The BNP are an ethnic nationalist party, many of whom hold racist views. Like the Nazis they are left-wing and statist, but they have some right-wing traits like their stance on freedom of speech (which is probably a badge of convenience because they are up against a statist government).

    I have my reasons for not allowing BNP in the Witanagemot Club, for which I’ve been called a ‘fascist’ for denying their right to free speech (as if I do).

  6. Don’t know if you noticed, Toque, but a comment from that very page, where you explain why you are against the BNP was quoted against you on Socialist Unity’s debate around the BNP/Oxford thing. Not a comment by you and completely out of context. Andy, the site owner I think, defended you and I left a few comments, if I’d known where the quote was from I’d have made even more of a point of it!
    You are completely in your rights to not allow the BNP in. As long as you didn’t do it under pressure from student protests ;). I think if it had been a random individual, not an organised drive to join, it might have been different, but hey, it’s your club!

  7. Thanks for the heads up. Just left a response.

  8. If the BNP cleared up what they meant be ‘English parliament’ instead of leaving it open to interpretation, and if they didn’t go around the place printing leaflets with “Campaign for an English Parliament” on them I may feel differently. I’m at odds with them ideologically but their attempt to muscle in on CEP territory, to exploit the cause of an English parliament for their own ends, means that I’m now a political opponent. Whether rank and file or leadership the BNP are my enemy (and I would suggest that they are the enemy of anyone campaigning for an English parliament on civic democratic grounds).

    As it is I’m not preventing freedom of speech, they’re still at liberty to blog or do whatever they want – I just won’t be syndicating it.

  9. I completely support your right to exclude the BNP. It is a shame, but realistic, that pro-English (but civic no ethnic) parties will probably be competing with the BNP for the votes of those disaffected by mainstream consensus. It is important people know there is a non-racist alternative that isn’t ridiculously politically correct.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: