If a Conservative government doesn’t assure free speech on campuses, nobody’s going to do it because the Labour Party and SNP have been infiltrated by those who wish to close down debate and run our country down, writes MP Andrew Bridgen in Politics Across the Pond. 

The Bills that make up the Queen’s Speech were published this week and two of particular interest to me are the Online Safety Bill and the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill which aim to deliver on the Home Secretary’s pledge in terms of protecting free and open debate.

As many users of social media will tell you, this is something that is badly needed. Presently, something is classed as a hate crime if it offends someone else, or anyone thinks someone else could be offended by it. If something you say meets those criteria, you are potentially liable to have a visit from the police and have a hate crime registered against you. This may well be the reason why so many Police Forces across the country, including my own in Leicestershire, are seeing spikes in reported Hate Crime referrals.

We cannot end up in a situation where for having the “crime” of espousing alternative views you get canceled and you can’t speak. Otherwise, what’s the difference between us and China or North Korea? We did not campaign so hard for Brexit so that the people could take back control of our British sovereignty, only to lose our freedom of speech. That is not democracy.

In the past, I have cited the case of the former police officer, Harry Miller, who faced police investigation for posting tweets that were labeled by some as “transphobic” and effectively being told that he was committing a “thought crime.”

Lisa Keogh, 29, faces disciplinary action at Abertay University for comments she made

The current case of Lisa Keogh demonstrates the acute need for legislation to protect the right of free speech at UK Universities. Ms. Keogh is a student at Abertay University in Dundee, Scotland.

Ms. Keogh’s  “crime” publicly states that women have vaginas” and are “not as strong as men”. She now faces disciplinary action by her University after a deluge of complaints from some of her fellow students!

The apparent obsession of the SNP, who are in power in the Scottish Parliament, closing down debate, preventing free speech, and in Ms. Keogh’s case, merely the statement of scientific fact, pose a clear threat to democracy and freedom.

What we certainly need is counter legislation to that being brought forward by the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP). They are looking to bring in legislation that would effectively mean you could not even have a conversation around your dinner table without the risk of being prosecuted. That is a situation that is the antithesis of an open and free democracy. Freedom of speech and thought are fundamental rights that no legislation should ever take away.

Indeed, there is a clear political divide between the more libertarian, Conservative view and the view of the left and the SNP, which appears to have huge control over the media in Scotland and wants to take these laws a lot further. That is their standpoint, so let them defend that and see if that’s the sort of society people in Scotland want to live in. I don’t think it is. It smacks of the totalitarian, one-party state, under which we all have to subscribe to groupthink. Otherwise, we are delisted by order of the state.

This is the opening salvo in the culture war which is going on in this country and has been for some time, although most of the public has only recently become aware of it. That’s how the progressives operate, incrementally below the radar, until they have achieved their goals.

Image by Markus Winkler from Pixabay

If a Conservative government doesn’t reform these ludicrous laws, nobody’s going to do it because the Labour Party and SNP have been infiltrated by those who wish to close down debate and run our country down.

This issue is fundamental to what it will be like to live in the UK in the future, and many people, particularly in areas such as the so-called “old Labour red wall’ are deeply concerned about the path this culture war is heading down.

“We are proud to be British. We don’t believe in pulling down memorials. Rebadging streets woke names or flying the EU flag.”This was the message we put out at the May 6 election in NW LLeicestershireand we won all 11 out of 11 seats. 

Anybody who believes in democracy and freedom of speech should be very, very concerned and I will be monitoring this bill carefully to see that it takes steps to reverse the salami-slicing away of our freedoms of speech. We owe that to our children and grandchildren or they will never know of the birthright we allowed to be taken away from them.

Andrew Bridgen

Andrew Bridgen is a Conservative MP for North West Leicestershire.