One exception stands out from this commendably liberal crowd - the fervently left-wing Daily is right behind the Chancellor:
Freedom of speech is one thing, but, as the old cliche goes, it’s not ok to shout fire in a crowded theatre. BNP leader Nick Griffin’s comments are exactly that, a false claim that could wind up causing people’s death or injury.
They quote Griffin's comments about Asian Moslems "seducing and raping white girls" and go on to welcome the Chancellor's proposals.
It will be important to draft any new laws carefully. Freedom of speech must be safeguarded and that includes the freedom to criticise religions. But it can’t be impossible to draft a law that makes it illegal to use inflamatory language to provoke people in hotspots like Keighley.
Now there appear to me to be two major flaws in this argument. Firstly the claim that Griffin was lying about grooming of white girls by moslem men. This pattern of crime has now been reported several times both by mainstream sources (Channel Four, Radio Five) and by bloggers like Pickled Politics. Labour MP Anne Cryer has been at the forefront of the campaign to get something done about it. The onus is on The Daily to tell us why all these reputable sources are mistaken.
The Daily goes on to point out comments in the Telegraph:
The BNP thrive in areas where people feel forgotten by the mainstream parties. There are signs that the fascist party is becoming a home for many disgruntled former Labour voters.
Surely they can see that by trying to sweep the issue under the carpet they are part of the problem. They are acting as a recruiting sergeant for the very BNP they despise so much.
The other problem with the article is the idea that it is possible to frame legislation that will permit Anne Cryer to complain about the Asian men grooming white girls, but will at the same time prevent Nick Griffin from complaining about Asian men raping them. The accusation is to all intents and purposes the same one.
If th Daily gets its way and this legislation does get through, expect the BNP's membership to swell, and wave another set of liberties goodbye.