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.

 

Joe


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