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God save the mark...

The media are all over this story, understandably. Columnists and bloggers are opining right and left. To me, the most interesting aspect is that no-one can mention the BNP (even classical liberals or right-wingers who could not possibly be suspected of sympathy with that party's ultra-left command economy policies) without disassociating themselves. Every comment that BNP members have the right to hold and express their opinions is hastily followed by some piety like "...however odious those opinions are..." The phrases used are ritualistic. It rather reminds me of superstitious people averting the evil eye. It is not how free men should go  about their business.

250px-HorseshoeWhat are these people afraid of? Do they fear that some future political policeman will find a published record of sympathetic words for enemies of the state? Without even introducing formal censorship, has the left-liberal establishment succeeded in putting a chill on freedom of thought and expression? Surely not.  After all, no-one feels the need to utter ritual phrases when writing about people who have done more harm than the BNP will ever have chance to do; e.g. Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Guevara or Castro. For that matter, if I comment that a Communist or an Islamist is entitled to his opinions, I don't feel the need parenthetically to say that I think said opinions are evil and/or nonsensical. Freedom of speech is only really an issue when the opinions expressed are unorthodox or controversial. Your right to say "Nice day, isn't it?" was not much under threat even at freedom's lowest point in the great totalitarian regimes of the 20th Century.

In fairness, many have written in this context that it is wrong to punish people for holiding or expressing political opinions. Many have written that employers, public and private, have no right to set permitted parameters to their employees thoughts. I just want to be the first to say so (as I hereby do) without uttering the modern equivalent of "God save the mark!"


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Well, "⎮", (is that code for "a pretty straight sort of guy?" - just curious) you may consider that all 19th and 20th Century attempts to protect the minnows against the pikes (imagery that insults both categories in my opinion) resulted in a great white shark called "the state" growing stronger and more predatory. Those of us who don't plan to be the shark's pilot fish find it rather scarier than any pikes, particularly as the fishes of your imagery are not required to remain in the same species (which is where the image falls down really). Maybe the economy would be more vibrant if more minnows decided to have a go at being pikes? Maybe that would result in such a shortage of minnows that the pikes would have to play nice to get them to work for them? Isn't it odd that the highest paid minnows in our economy (apart from the highly paid and well-pensioned pilot fish) don't swim in schools and don't have the shark's protection? Aren't these metaphors fun? How relaxing your life must be with such useful substitutes for thought.

Tom Paine wrote: "As a libertarian I don't agree with employment rights. An employer should be able to hire or fire (and an employee to join or leave) at will (or on reasonable contractual notice) and without in either case having to give any reason."

As RH Tawney once wrote: "Freedom for the pike means death for the minnow."


I've written quite a lot about the BNP in the past and I try to avoid the ritual distancing you are talking about. It sounds like those cringe-making "I'm not a racist but..." or "Some of my best friends are gay..." statements that people feel obliged to use before making certain political points.

I've made my views on the BNP quite plain when posting in response to BNP comments but I try not to get into the who-can-be-most-anti-BNP game.

Alas, for this reason, some of those who read my blog, both pro and anti BNP, seem to think I'm a BNP supporter.

You just can't win, can you?


Well said, Tom.

William Gruff

You're a little late Tom. I said the same on Wednesday.


That piety comment: "...however odious those opinions are..." is used as a caveat. What they are saying is "I would support a Party that upholds British values in this epoch of "permissible and verboten" "Halal and Haram" tyranny pressed upon us. But the BNP's positive discrimination is abhorrent to all thinking men. Rather, it is to call out to all peoples of the former Commonwealth who once knew our once noble standards and were infused by those values, to save us. Just like Christians today call out to their untainted Church of England Leaders in Africa to remove the spreading cancer of communism and moral vicissitude in the UK churches.


Guilty as charged ! Will bear this in mind

Nigel Sedgwick

You make an excellent point. Sadly, we all feel under pressure when supporting a general principle where some specific case is not to our liking.

And I do note you additional excellent point, that society (or at least the more vocal part of it) is much more against extreme right-wing political views than against extreme left-wing ones. Maybe that is because society (or its more vocal element) believes there are no extreme left-wing views.

Concerning the BNP (and any other extreme political party for that matter), it does not strike me as totally rational to tolerate the election of party members, perhaps even as MPs or (horror of horrors) to the post of Prime Minister, while viewing it as unacceptable for party members to be police officers, in the military, or civil servants.

There is though, a certain practicality in this half-hearted policy. This is because the chance of 'undesirable' political parties wielding significant influence through the political/democratic process is significantly less than the chance of them wielding such influence, hidden, through important positions relating to national security. Thus there is additional protection against extremism and also a better veneer is given to claims of political tolerance and diversity.

However, we should not forget the case of Jörg Haider of Austria. There, when he was voted by their electorate to a higher level of power, the EU decided that this was not within their interpretation of democracy: a decision that I still find very difficult to swallow. Still, Mr Brown carries on that strong leftish policy, with his recent view that politics should exclude that which is to his political disadvantage (which he calls 'playing politics'). Belgian politics also seems interestingly constrained, at least from time to time.

It is difficult to know on this, where one should draw the line, between the presumed undesirability of a one-party state and 'appropriate' constraint on the political views of the electorate.

Best regards

Tom Paine

As a libertarian I don't agree with employment rights. An employer should be able to hire or fire (and an employee to join or leave) at will (or on reasonable contractual notice) and without in either case having to give any reason. I guess that means I could be fired (in practice) for annoying my employer politically, but I don't see it as a contradiction. It's not the same as giving an employer the unilateral right to dictate terms.

Kevyn Bodman

You are right;I have used this type of piety myself and will not do so again.

Moving on a bit,I am not a pure 100% Libertarian.
Could you please comment on an idea you have put towards the end of your post:

'employers, public and private,have no right to set permitted parameters to their employees thoughts.'

This would be my position; but isn't the hard-line Libertarian view that employers can terminate employment for any reason they like, or none?

Or are there different views that still fall under the Libertarian banner?

Any guidance welcome.

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