Getting Irate So That You Don't Have To

Getting Irate So That You Don't Have To

Sunday, 25 November 2007

The Liberals Put Lewis To Shame

I met Julian Lewis many years ago. At the time I was at university, and he was a spokesman for Peace Through Nato. He spoke in a debate I was chairing on nuclear disarmament, and talked of the need to maintain a nuclear deterrent such that we could protect the freedoms in the West which many took for granted. He struck me as a sound guy, and someone who could be relied upon to stand up for freedom the world over.

He's now a Conservative MP. To be more exact, he's a Conservative MP who appears to have taken leave of his senses. He's resigned from the Oxford Union in protest at their decision to invite Nick Griffin (leader of the British National Party) and David Irving (jailed in Austria for denying the Holocaust) to a debate on Free speech.

Lewis has written to the Oxford Union condemning the boost that the invitation gives "to a couple of scoundrels" and said that said the students should be "ashamed" that they've granted Griffin and Irving a platform.

I sometimes think back to those days in the 1980s, and to those passionate debates played out across university campuses all over the country. I'm still proud of what I stood for: a strong defence and vigorous protection of free speech. I've always thought they went hand-in-hand. Seemingly Julian Lewis disagrees.

Disturbingly, it appears to have fallen to the Liberal Democrats to stand up for the right to free expression. Dr Evan Harris MP is quoted is putting the counter-argument to Lewis's whining thus: "The measure of our country's respect for free expression is our willingness to allow it for the most objectionable and offensive lawful speech, not just for those with whom we agree."

Couldn't have put it better.

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