A so-called “right wing” extremist group called National Action is planning a march in my City, Liverpool, this weekend. This organisation is not on the wing of any normal political ideology – they have actually fallen off the edge. Their views are so extreme that they challenge us all as a society – can we turn a blind eye to their venom and hatred because of their right to freedom of speech?
Their website and comments within, and their threats to anyone who is non-white British born, is an affront to decency and everything we stand for as a nation.
This type of organisation threatens our values as a Country not just our cultural and ethnic mix. The time has come to stand up and change the rules to reflect a better balance between people’s rights to freedom of speech and our responsibility towards each other. Our country has a long and progressive tradition as a place where protest, speech and ideas enrich the fabric of our discussions.
New ideas and opinions must be heard. Unless they clearly have only one aim – to threaten, intimidate and hurt the community we live in across the UK.
Free speech comes with a responsibility not to incite hatred, racial or otherwise. Any organisation planning to use protests, demonstration, marches and speeches to achieve this should face a ban by City Leaders. We can easily create safeguards through the creation of a right of appeal to the Home Secretary against such a ban. But we need to reverse the current situation where I, as the highest ranking democratically-elected official in my city, have no power to represent my community and take steps to safeguard my communities – only the Home Secretary does.
The vast majority of people who live in our City don’t want them here. We are a multicultural and ethnic City, proud of our tag as a “World in One City”. I repeat, we do not want these people here and they should not be allowed to pedal their vile views here.