The UK’s ‘banned list’ and pre-emptive retribution
Cranmer is not sure why only 16 were named out of the 22 who were excluded between October ‘08 – March ’09. It is reported that ‘the public interest was against naming’ the remaining six. Perhaps it is a little recompense to the democratically-elected Dutch MP Geert Wilders whose democratic credentials have been thoroughly and unjustly trashed by being refused entry to the UK along with those who have indeed incited violence and murder.
But Cranmer is more than a little irritated that the Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said that ‘coming to the UK should be a privilege’.
It is rather a pity that it has ceased to be so. EU ‘nationals’ are at liberty to come to the UK to abuse social provision with impunity. Coming to the UK is no longer a privilege; it is a manifest right for millions of people who owe absolutely nothing to Britain and are obliged to respect nothing of her history, culture or traditions.
Some people on this list have broken no law. Of course, freedom of speech has limits: incitement being a very obvious one. But when Ms Smith talks of the law-abiding among these people who have ‘clearly overstepped the mark’, it becomes clear that the interpretation and application of statute law is no longer the boundary by which guilt is determined. There is a ‘mark’ which may be ‘overstepped’ before one has actually broken the law.
The Home Secretary explains that she will not allow people into the UK ‘who are going to propagate the sort of views... that fundamentally go against our values’. The ban, she insists, ‘enables people to see the sorts of unacceptable behaviour we are not willing to have in this country’.
But the problem is that it does nothing of the sort. It is impossible to discern any coherent set of ‘values’ from the Labour’s banned list, other than those with which the Home Secretary herself happens to disagree. People are now excluded not because of what they have done but because of what they may do. It is now an offence to be ‘likely to stir up tension’.
There is no doubt that some on this list are among the most odious and repugnant of humanity, yet being odious and repugnant is not a crime. Those from the Westboro Baptist Church may exist beyond the fringe of social acceptability, but there are those who might assert that homosexuals do the same. This is not (before Cranmer is besieged by abusive emails) a plea for their admission – for theirs is not a cause of love but a controversy of self-righteousness. But the Government line does not run straight.
Individuals are usually barred from entering the UK because his or her presence ‘is not conducive to the public good’. The Government supports freedom of expression, ‘but believes it needs to be exercised responsibly’. They will therefore ‘continue to oppose extremism in all its forms’.
But to oppose extremism in all its forms must (as Cranmer has said before) prevent the Pope from entering the UK. What are ‘our values’ when even Tony Blair refers to the orthodox Christian beliefs as ‘extremist’?
Pope Benedict is certain to be welcomed to the UK on the occasion of the beatification of Cardinal Newman. Yet he was judged to have tarnished his office with a distinct whiff of anti-Semitism when he reinstated a prayer calling for the conversion of Jews; this was reinforced when he lifted the excommunication on the Holocaust-denying priest Richard Williamson; and then there was the ‘Islamophobia’ of his Regensburg address in 2006, when he quoted a Byzantine emperor who described Islam as ‘evil and inhuman’; And he has said that homosexuality is a ‘strong tendency ordered to an intrinsic moral evil, and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder’; he refers to heterosexual marriage as ‘correct living’, and repudiates ‘a legal form of a kind of homosexual marriage’; he asserts that abortion is a grave sin; he stokes ‘xenophobia’ when he states that European multiculturalism is ‘fleeing from what is one's own’; and he opposes gender equality in the workplace.
How can such a man whose preaching and beliefs are so antithetical to ‘our values’ be permitted to set foot in New Labour’s New Britain?
One might hope that Parliament would one day admit a few philosopher-rulers, for the politicians have entered the realm of defending liberalism by illiberal means. The moment the Home Secretary espoused the line that the UK’s liberal democracy should be defended by banning all the hate-filled, nasty, illiberal foreigners, she actually found herself in the uncomfortable position of agreeing with Geert Wilders, though doubtless quite unable to see it.