What will Brexit mean, both short and long-term? Could it lead to more countries’ rank and file voters deciding to take back control from the elitists who denigrate the hoi polloi? Or will the elitist establishment continue trampling on democracy?
- The War on Tommy Robinson By Stefan Molyneux, Quadrant Online, 4 July 2018
- The British Lords and the Left unite to fight democracy By Mike Hume, Spiked Online, 5 May 2018
- Unelected British peers are engaged in an elitist revolt against the masses By Brendan O’Neill, Spiked Online, 21 April 2018
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The War on Tommy Robinson
The War on Tommy Robinson By Stefan Molyneux, Quadrant Online, 4 July 2018
Explain why white men accused of pedophilia are allowed to be photographed and questioned by reporters on court steps, while Pakistani Muslims are not. Explain why a police force that took three decades to start dealing with Muslim rape gangs was able to arrest and incarcerate a journalist within a few scant hours. Explain why a man can be arrested for breaching the peace when no violence has taken place. To the British government: explain your actions, or open Tommy Robinson’s cell and let him walk free.
The rule of law is fragile, and relies on the self-restraint of the majority. In a just society, the majority obey the law because they believe it represents universal values – moral absolutes. They obey the law not for fear of punishment, but for fear of the self-contempt that comes from doing wrong.
As children, we are told that the law is objective, fair and moral. As we grow up, though, it becomes increasingly impossible to avoid the feeling that the actual law has little to do with the Platonic stories we were told as children. We begin to suspect that the law may in fact – or at least at times – be a coercive mechanism designed to protect the powerful, appease the aggressive, and bully the vulnerable.
The arrest of Tommy Robinson is a hammer-blow to the fragile base of people’s respect for British law. The reality that he could be grabbed off the street and thrown into a dangerous jail – in a matter of hours – is deeply shocking.
Tommy was under a suspended sentence for filming on courthouse property in the past. On May 25, 2018, while live-streaming his thoughts about the sentencing of alleged Muslim child rapists, Tommy very consciously stayed away from the court steps, constantly used the word “alleged,” and checked with the police to ensure that he was not breaking the law.
Tommy yelled questions at the alleged criminals on their way into court – so what? How many times have you watched reporters shouting questions at people going in and out of courtrooms? You can find pictures of reporters pointing cameras and microphones at Rolf Harris and Gary Glitter, who were accused of similar crimes against children.
Tommy Robinson was arrested for “breaching the peace,” which is a civil proceeding that requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Was imminent violence about to erupt from his reporting? How can Tommy Robinson have been “breaching the peace” while wandering around in the rain on a largely empty street sharing his thoughts on criminal proceedings? There were several police officers present during his broadcast, why did they allow him to break the law for so long?
Was Tommy wrong to broadcast the names of the alleged criminals? The mainstream media, including the state broadcaster, the BBC, had already named them. Why was he punished, but not them?
These are all questions that demand answers.
Even if everything done by the police or the court was perfectly legitimate and reasonable, the problem is that many people in England believe that Tommy Robinson is being unjustly persecuted by his government. The fact that he was arrested so shortly after his successful Day for Freedom event, where he gathered thousands of people in support of free speech, strikes many as a little bit more than a coincidence.
Is the law being applied fairly? Tommy Robinson has received countless death threats over the years, and has reported many of them. Did the police leap into action to track down and prosecute anyone sending those threats?
If the British government truly believes that incarcerating Tommy Robinson is legitimate, then they should call a press conference, and answer as many questions as people have, explaining their actions in detail.
As we all know, there has been no press conference. Instead of transparency, the government has imposed a publication ban – not just on the trial of the alleged child rapists, but on the arrest and incarceration of Tommy Robinson. Not only are reporters unable to ask questions, they are forbidden from even reporting the bare facts about Tommy Robinson’s incarceration.
Why? British law strains – perhaps too hard – to prevent publication of information that might influence a jury, but Tommy’s incarceration was on the order of a judge. He will not get a jury trial for 13 months imprisonment. Since there is no jury to influence, why ban reports on his arrest and punishment?
Do these actions strike you as the actions of a government with nothing to hide?
Free societies can only function with a general respect for the rule of law. If the application of the law appears selective, unjust, or political, people begin to believe that the law no longer represents universal moral values. If so, what is their relationship to unjust laws? Should all laws be blindly obeyed, independent of conscience or reason? The moral progress of mankind has always manifested as resistance to injustice. Those who ran the Underground Railroad that helped escaped slaves get from America to Canada were criminals according to the law of their day. We now think of them as heroes defying injustice, because the law was morally wrong.
The inescapable perception that various ethnic and religious groups are accorded different treatment under the Western law is one of the most dangerous outcomes of the cult of diversity.
Diversity of thought, opinion, arguments and culture can be beneficial – diversity of treatment under the law fragments societies.
The blind mantra that “diversity is a strength” is an attempt to ignore the most fundamental challenge of multiculturalism, which is: if diversity is a value, what is our relationship to belief systems which do not value diversity?
If tolerance of homosexuality is a virtue, what is our relationship to belief systems that are viciously hostile to homosexuality? If equality of opportunity for women is a virtue, what about cultures and religions which oppose such equality?
And if freedom of speech is a value, what is our relationship to those who violently oppose freedom of speech?
Diversity is a value only if moral values remain constant. We need freedom of speech in part because robust debate in a free arena of ideas is our best chance of approaching the truth.
You need a team with diverse skills to build a house, but everything must rest on a strong foundation. Diversity is only a strength if it rests on universal moral values.
Is Tommy Robinson being treated fairly? If gangs of white men had spent decades raping and torturing little Muslim girls, and a justly outraged Muslim reporter was covering the legal proceedings, would he be arrested?
We all know the answer to that question. And we all know why.
Diversity of opinion is the path to truth – diversity of legal systems is the path to ruin.
If the arrest and incarceration of Tommy Robinson is just, then the government must throw open the doors and invite cross-examination from sceptics. Honestly explain what happened, and why.
Explain why elderly white men accused of pedophilia are allowed to be photographed and questioned by reporters on court steps, while Pakistani Muslims are not.
Explain why a police force that took three decades to start dealing with Muslim rape gangs was able to arrest and incarcerate a journalist within a few scant hours.
Explain why a man can be arrested for breaching the peace when no violence has taken place – or appears about to take place.
To the British government: explain your actions, or open Tommy Robinson’s cell and let him walk free.
Stefan Molyneux is the host of Freedomain Radio
The British Lords and the Left unite to fight democracy
The British Lords and the Left unite to fight democracy By Mike Hume, Spiked Online, 5 May 2018
‘Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.’ So, allegedly, wrote 18th century Enlightenment philosopher Denis Diderot. With the subsequent political tumult of the 1789 French Revolution, Diderot’s supposed words became popularised as ‘Hang the last aristocrat with the guts of the last priest!’. The people’s enemies were the tyrannical Ancien Régime and its apologists in the church hierarchy.
More than 200 years later, in the struggle over Brexit, we are faced with different enemies seeking to reverse the democratic revolt by 17.4million Leave voters. Members of the House of Lords leading the reactionary backlash against Brexit are not old-fashioned aristocrats, but an unelected club of former, failed and sometimes fraudulent politicians. And the Remainer elites’ loud cheerleaders are to be found, not among church traditionalists, but in Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party and on the left.
It seems we need a new version of that old revolutionary slogan. Perhaps something like ‘Hang the last Remainer Lord with the guts of the last Brexit-betraying leftie’! Though, in these more temperate times, we should only wish to see them throttled in a figurative, political sense, of course.
This week the House of Lords inflicted yet more defeats on the Tory government over its EU Withdrawal Bill. By 335 votes to 294, peers passed an amendment which would give parliament the power to stop the UK leaving the EU without a deal, or force prime minister Theresa May (or her successor) to return to the negotiating table if they didn’t like the exit agreement.
If upheld by MPs in the House of Commons, this amendment would effectively tie the government’s hands. It could mean the UK only leaves the EU on terms acceptable to Brussels and the hardcore anti-Brexiteers back home. That would mean Remain by another name.
Of course, the lords insist they are only defending parliamentary democracy and sovereignty against government diktat. But this is a mockery of democracy. They never seemed concerned about UK parliamentary sovereignty while imposed EU rules rode roughshod over it for 40 years. Yet suddenly they want to defend it against the demand for popular democracy and sovereignty expressed in the EU referendum result. Those 335 unelected, unaccountable, ermined lords have appointed themselves as champions of democracy against the ‘tyranny’ of 17.4million Leave voters.
How times change. After the anti-Brexit votes, the lords came under fierce attack from the sort of conservative politicians and newspapers that might once have been expected to defend the traditions of parliament’s upper house. Tory trade secretary Liam Fox warned peers were trying to ‘thwart the will of the British people’; the Suncalled the Lords ‘a cancer eating away at our democracy’; the Daily Mail dubbed it ‘a house of unelected wreckers’; former UKIP leader Nigel Farage echoed spiked’s call for a referendum on abolishing the House of Lords.
Yet on the other side, the democracy-subverting Lords were praised by leaders of the Labour Party and the left who always claim to be supporters of radical change. Labour’s (anti-)Brexit spokesman, Keir Starmer, said the vote marked a ‘hugely significant moment’ in the fight to stop the UK leaving the EU without a deal acceptable to Remainers – more significant, apparently, than the small matter of the referendum vote to do just that.
Leading left-liberal voice the Guardian, a longstanding advocate of radical Lords’ reform, made space for an article by arch-Remainer Lord Bilimoria (no doubt we must ensure that such disenfranchised minorities as peers of the realm have a voice). Looking down from the moral high ground, his lordship informed us that, by trying to stop Brexit, the Lords is simply doing what’s best for the British people, whether we know/like it or not: ‘Rather than being at war with the nation, we are its very custodians.’ Or Guardians, perhaps.
Further left, a senior writer at New Statesman magazine, Labour’s house journal, praised the House of Lords as ‘the left’s new best friend’. Even fanatical Corbynista website the Canary suggested that Labour supporters ‘wishing to remain in the EU may find unlikely heroes in their unelected peers’. With ‘best friends’ and ‘heroes’ like the Lords, who needs enemies?
In the battle over Brexit, the Lords and the Labour-supporting left have united to fight democracy. In this unholy alliance against the people, the Lords at least is only doing its job. But the left has betrayed all it claims to stand for.
The role of the upper house in Britain’s modern political history has been to restrain democratic reform and guard the state against the danger of ‘too much’ democracy.
Over the past two centuries of political struggle, the balance of power has shifted away from the Lords towards a House of Commons, elected by an increasingly wide franchise; universal adult suffrage was finally achieved in 1929. Seventy years later, when Tony Blair’s New Labour government removed almost all hereditary peers from parliament, it surely should have sounded the death knell for the unaccountable power of peers.
Yet today, the Lords, leftover rubbish of the Middle Ages, is back at the forefront of the battle over democracy and sovereignty. With more than 800 unelected members (200 more than before the hereditaries were ousted), the House of Lords is now the largest chamber in any democracy – albeit one without a shred of democratic legitimacy. The fact that the misnamed Liberal Democrats, reduced to a rump of a dozen elected MPs, now has more than a hundred appointed peers swanning about in the Lords captures the unaccountable essence of that den of cronies.
Abolishing the House of Lords remains the unfinished business of Britain’s democratic revolution. That was why the left, from the Levellers of the 17th century to the Chartists of the 19th, always despised the anti-democratic institution that Thomas Paine described as the ‘remains of aristocratic tyranny’. As late as the early 1980s, under left-wing leader Michael Foot, the Labour Party backed abolition. Even in 2007, when the House of Commons debated various options for Lords reform, a sizeable minority of 163 MPs voted to do away with it altogether.
Yet now, Labour praises the Remainer elites in the Lords as champions of democracy, while the left hails the revolting peers as its ‘new best friends’ and ‘unlikely heroes’. There could hardly be a more telling illustration of the left’s historic shift away from the demos, the people, towards the unaccountable institutions of the state and the EU. Or of Labour’s abandonment of traditional working-class Leave voters in the rush of the ‘People’s Party’ to become the party of the metropolitan Remainer middle classes.
The Lords and its radical fan club might claim to be acting in defence of parliamentary sovereignty. Yet what does representative democracy really mean when no national political party represents the 52 per cent who voted Leave, and every party in parliament – bar Northern Ireland’s small and much-maligned Democratic Unionists – is led by Remainers?
Those who think of ourselves as left democrats have always defended parliamentary democracy against infringement by unaccountable powers, be that a king, the courts or the European Commission. But allow a distorted version of parliamentary sovereignty to be used as an elitist garrotte, to throttle the popular democratic demand for Brexit? Hang that.
Mick Hume is spiked’s editor-at-large. His new book, Revolting! How the Establishment is Undermining Democracy – and What They’re Afraid of, is published by William Collins. Buy it here.
Unelected British peers are engaged in an elitist revolt against the masses
Unelected British peers are engaged in an elitist revolt against the masses By Brendan O’Neill, Spiked Online, 21 April 2018
In voting to stay in a customs union after Brexit, against the wishes of the elected government and its Brexit Bill, the House of Lords has ‘inflicted an embarrassing defeat’ on Theresa May, says the Independent. Actually, the Lords has inflicted a defeat on democracy. On the public will. On the 17.4million people who voted for Brexit. On us, the people. In 2018, unelected lords, these appointed experts and holy men and ageing, failed politicians whom not a single ordinary Briton ever voted on to the red benches of the second chamber, have defied a government voted for by 13.6million people and a course of action voted for by 17.4million people. This is an act of true elitism, an insult to democracy, an archaic abomination that has no place in a modern society that values the views and beliefs of the populace.
The Lords, who have been bristling at Brexit and the plebs who voted for it for almost two years now, voted today to add an amendment to the Brexit Bill stipulating that the UK will stay in a customs union with the EU after Brexit. That is, they want to force the elected government to do something it doesn’t want to do. They want it to defy its own voters and the electorate at large who voted in historic numbers to ‘take back control’ from the EU, including control of our trade, which a customs union would make impossible. And some people are celebrating this. Media people, the Twitterati, supposedly ‘liberal’ Remainers – all are whooping the fact that the posh and pompous unelected chamber is heaping pressure on the Commons to go against the wishes of the commoners who voted for them and who voted to cut ties with the EU. And still these people moan when we call them enemies of democracy! If it walks like an enemy of democracy and quacks like an enemy of democracy…
The Lords’ vote and the response to it explodes many of the myths in contemporary British politics. It shatters the increasingly grating claim to victimhood of the Remoaner set, who far from being brave, plucky insurgents taking on The Man are in truth backed by virtually every wing of the establishment, from the business elite to the academic world to most of the political class to the Lords itself, that dusty, ghostly hangover from the old, virulently anti-public wing of the establishment. It destroys the idea that Remainer agitation is not about stopping democracy and might even help to re-energise democracy: please, what could be more anti-democratic, more destructive to mass political decision-making, than cheering as the Lords lecture the elected and the people? And it lays to waste the Corbynistas’ claim to be radical. That party and many of its members are delighted with the Lords’ haughty assault on democracy. Corbyn’s (anti-)Brexit secretary Keir Starmer says MPs must heed their Lords. ‘Bow before your betters’, in essence. Please, everyone, stop referring to Corbynistas as firebrands. Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour is in truth becoming the most reliable defender of the technocratic, people-suspicious status quo.
This vote captures what is at stake in the Brexit era: democracy, the right of ordinary people, whatever their station, their background or their educational achievements, to have a hand in shaping the future of society. The EU weakened our ability to do that, and now the Lords is trying to do so, too. The Brussels establishment and those sections of the British elite who are wary of trusting the public to make important political decisions are two cheeks of the same anti-democratic arse. The question of our time is this: who should determine the destiny of a nation – everyone, all of its adult inhabitants, or those who by dint of their education or connections or heritage think they know better than the rest of us? The cry for Brexit says, ‘Everyone’; the elitist rage against Brexit says, ‘Us, the more clued-up, the Oxford grads, the lords, experts, lawyers and do-gooders. We should have a greater say because we better understand the needs of the nation.’ This vile idea, and it genuinely is vile, finds expression today in the Lords’ elitist revolt against the masses.
It is understandable that ‘our’ lords should hate Brexit. They instinctively recognise the rebellious, highly democratic spirit in the people’s huge vote against the EU. And they know that if we are willing to throw out the technocrats of Brussels, we might just throw out their lordships, too. We should be given the opportunity to do precisely that. We’ve had a referendum on the EU and now we need a referendum on the Lords so that the democrats among us can say, ‘Abolish this perverse and archaic institution’. In the meantime, the elected Commons must reject the Lords’ amendment and put these petty tyrants back in their box.
Brendan O’Neill is editor of spiked. Follow him on Instagram: @burntoakboy
More articles concerning British ‘democracy’
- Brexit Remainers resorting to anti-Semitism, a new low By Brendan O’Neill, Spiked Online, 10 February 2018
- The hoi polloi want real democracy By Tom Slater, Deputy Editor, Spiked Online, 20 May 2017
- Stopping Brexit means stopping democracy By Brendan O’Neill, Editor, Spikes Online, 7 May 2017
- article-50-down-with-this-legal-coup-against-the-masses By Brendan O’Neill, Spiked Online, 5 November 2016
- its-time-to-shoot-down-the-post-brexit-hate-crime-hysteria Brendan O’Neill is editor of spiked. 15 October 2016
- 90-days-later-still-no-signs-of-brexit-doom-gloom From Zerohedge, 3 October
- Will Brexit survive this dismaying contempt for voters By Mike Hume, Spiked Online, 27 August 2016
- Democracy endangered, the unelected v. the hoi polloi By Tom Slate, Spiked Online, 6 August 2016
- Politicians must respect democracy, or get out By Brendan O’Neill, Spiked Online, 2 July 2016
- Brexit, and the Social Crisis Behind It By George Freidman, via Mauldin Economics, 30 June 2016
- Let Brexit be a lesson to the elite meddlers By Gary Johns, The Australian, 29 June
- Brexit, Britain voted for the parliamentary democracy it invented By Dominic Lawson, The Times, 27 June 2016
- Brexit, Remainers are not pro-EU, they’re anti-democracy By Tim Black, Spiked Online, 25 June 2016
- Mises, Why Brexit Is Better For Britain By Thorstein Polleit, The Mises Institute, 21 June 2016