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« Hope, or expectation? | Main | BBC responds to the Obama splice complaint »

Should Shami Chakrabarti resign?

As I pointed out in my posting the other day, Shami Chakrabarti and David Davis have both been consipicuous by their absence from the debate over whether Geert Wilders should have been allowed into the country.

Legally, there now seems to be little doubt that it was unlawful to exclude Wilders, the showing of his film having gone off with barely a murmur of dissent in his absence, and with Wilders having actually visited Britain a matter of weeks ago without any discernable trouble. The Home Secretary is going to be extremely hard pushed to justify his exclusion on any legal basis.

So in legal terms, he should have been here, and those who support the concept of the rule of law should be incandescent over the Home Secretary's behaviour. Likewise, anyone with the remotest interest in civil liberties should be fuming too. So where are our champions of civil liberties? Why have they not been shouting from the pages of every newspaper in the land? Davis, nothing. Chakrabarti, nothing. The Liberal Democrats? Don't make me laugh.

David Davis is a politician and has presumably made a political calculation that he has little to gain from speaking out in favour of Wilders' coming to the UK, and a great deal to lose in terms of his future career (we assume that he will eventually seek high office again). We expect little else from politicians and can write off the LibDems on the same grounds.

Chakrabarti has no such excuse. She is the head of Liberty, a body that exists solely to speak out in favour of civil liberties. She has failed miserably to do so. Her silence over Wilders is not unprecedented either. She has made it abundantly clear that she doesn't feel that freedom of speech extends to nasty people; her words on Question Time last week can have left nobody in any doubt about that. She also has previous form on the "disappearing act" she has performed in the last few days, notably when Liberty maintained a determined radio silence over the Sikh play Bezhti.

Chakrabarti has demonstrated over the years that she will not stand up for those whose views she deems unacceptable. She will not defend unpleasant views. She will not speak out for unpleasant people. She hates racists so much that she will allow fundamental British freedoms to be trampled underfoot in order allow these views she detests so much to be crushed, regardless of the importance of the freedoms that are lost with them, and regardless of the duties entailed in her position.

What is the point of the woman? It is possible to find people with views like that in any pub, Conservative Association or working men's club in the country. People who think civil liberties are a secondary consideration are two-a-penny in the pages of the Guardian or the Telegraph. Why do we need Liberty if not to make the difficult case of basic freedoms for everyone?

Chakrabarti and Liberty are not champions of civil liberties. In many ways they are a direct threat to the English model of individuals untrammelled in what they can say and think. She should stand down and make way for somebody who wants civil liberties for everyone, not just the favoured few.

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Reader Comments (12)

Spot on! But I'm afraid this woman will continue to be favoured by television producers for reasons I simply cannot understand (unless it's just to wind people up). I stopped watching ANY tv programme on which she appears as my doctor ordered that high blood pressure is bad for me. For me, she represents a large part of what has gone bad in Britain.
Feb 13, 2009 at 9:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Foster
I think TV people think she's cute.
Feb 13, 2009 at 9:52 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill
Spartan over at head of legal has summed it up well. As long as our so called Politician’s do not stand up for all liberties we will continuously drive some of the electorate towards parties such as the BNP. If our Politician’s had courage to discuss these matters without fear of being judged then the electorate as a whole may become more engaged.
Feb 13, 2009 at 10:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeter MG
Completely agree. I know a "human rights" lawyer of a similar ilk. He genuinely believes in due process, fair trials, etc. except when it comes to people he doesn't like. He thinks racists should be shot (I am not exaggerating) and that rapists do not deserve defence barristers. He refuses to see the illogic in his arguments.
Feb 14, 2009 at 5:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterBlue Eyes
"Liberty" was the NCCL and it was founded to advance left wing causes under the banner of "human rights".

They have form: conspicuously absent when the rights of people they don't like are being trampled.
Feb 15, 2009 at 4:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Hughes
Blue Eyes, you have a moral duty to 'out' that lawyer. Just give his name to a national newspaper, and they'll do the rest. Seriously.
Feb 15, 2009 at 8:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Foster
As Jack Hughes writes, Liberty is a left wing organisation promoting freedom under the law for left-wing causes (or, at most, causes where they can perceive left-wing interests promoted). Accordingly, a couple of years ago I spent a very pleasant 10 minutes or so chatting to Shami as we walked from the Institute of Directors to some government office block protesting about the extradition of the NatWest 3. It's clear that, although the NatWest 3 (being bankers) were not on Liberty's martyrs of choice list, the same extradition treaty could be used to send, for instance, Islamic terrorists to the US for (God forbid!) a real trial with real punishment.

Unlike their kindred spirits in the American Civil Liberties Union, Liberty won't even pretend to an even-handed approach. In the US, the ACLU was almost blown apart by internal dispute when it took legal action in support of the right of American Nazis to march in Skokie IL (a suburb of Chicago with a high Jewish population). Somehow, I can't see Shami supporting a BNP march down Brick Lane although, I suspect, a pro-Hamas demo in Didsbury (or anywhere else for that matter) would be fine.
Feb 15, 2009 at 3:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterUmbongo
<i>"She hates racists so much"</i>

No, she hates <i><b>white racists</b></i> so much.

She also remained silent on fox-hunting and the smoking ban. Letters written to Liberty about the smoking ban were simply ignored.
Feb 15, 2009 at 4:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Idle Pen Pusher
I know someone who could tell us -- I shall ask him.
Feb 15, 2009 at 5:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterGavin Ayling
Um, 1hr 15min minutes after you posted that, Davis became rather less conspicuous on Any Questions? "The way to defeat the extremists is to have them come, make their case, [and] ridicule them ... and defeat them in open debate." Denis MacShane was absolutely stellar on the same question: "There is no right not to be offended."

It was interesting that on Question Time, the two Parliamentary front-benchers both agreed with the Home Secretary. Ditto Huhne, the Lib Dem front-bencher. Swinson, on AQ?, said she disagree with Huhne. It is all rather interesting, in terms of how the lines are being drawn.

I agree that Chakrabarti's silence is utterly reprehensible.
Feb 15, 2009 at 10:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhilip Walker
What the bloody hell's going on in the UK ?

Surely there are grounds here for a private prosecution...the UK has a constitution going back to the Magna Carta and freedom of association and freedom of speech issues are involved.

Why not a public appeal for legal case on these grounds ?
Feb 15, 2009 at 11:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterAyrdale
"I can't see Shami supporting a BNP march down Brick Lane although,..."

The BNP do not march.

As for Shabi Chakraparty....her selectivity has long been exposed and her swivel eyed and thoroughly partisan performance on QT will hopefully not have gone unremarked by the viewers thereof. The woman is a naive and spiteful, hypocritical,, emotional blackmailer, invertebrate.........................fugly runted, self-serving product of the 'rent-a-ranter, race industry and should be ignored as such or alternatively pelted with fruit at her every public appearance. She is a clear and present danger.
Feb 16, 2009 at 12:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterThe Guvnah

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