Nosemonkey's EUtopia

In search of a European identity

In support of the freedom of speech of someone with whom I almost completely disagree

Of course, this is no doubt a lot more complicated than it appears at first glance, but nonetheless the apparent attempts to shut down UKIP press spokesman Gawain Towler’s long-running England Expects blog are to be heartily condemned. As the man himself says, it is his job – as the spokesman of a party that exists to attack and ridicule the EU – to, erm, attack and ridicule the EU.

He hasn’t (that I can recall) incited violence or hatred. He hasn’t (that I can recall) threatened anyone. He hasn’t (that I can recall) even leaked any particularly sensitive information (after all, how sensitive could it really be to find its way into the hands of UKIP’s press office?) So why try to shut him down? It’s hard not to see this as being some jobsbody official’s ill-considered plan to silence a source of irritation.

This is by no means a Hans-Martin Tillack, Marta Andreasen. But it does play into the hands of the EU’s critics in just the same way. If someone criticises you and your response is not to engage them in debate but to try to silence them, it is you, not they, who ends up looking bad.

Democracy is about discussion. It may be inconvenient to have to discuss things with parties like UKIP, but if they have been elected then you have no choice. This is what democracy is all about. (And yes, I have argued the same thing about fascistsmore than once. UKIP may be many things, but they’re not fascists.)

The only way the EU is going to be able to build the kind of cross-continental demos that it needs is through fostering discussion and debate – and moves like this will do precisely the opposite.

9 Comments

  1. Applying gag-type staff regulations to the worker of a parliamentary group defies all imagination. Even gagging regular employees of a public and political entity like the European Union or European Parliament goes against the grain of fundamental rights, especially freedom of speech, which belong to everybody.

    Politically, the European Parliament signed up to the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights in 2001, so you can hardly say that there hasn’t been time enough to scrap inconsistent rules and practices.

    Shame on the European Parliament, which needs to do two things immediately: Apologise and reform its internal regulations.

    I do hope the blog continues, and if needed faces down the EP administration until the end.

  2. Pingback: Jon Worth » In defence of Gawain Towler

  3. It’s a shame, it’s awful, it’s against European values. Not more and not less.

  4. Pingback: European Parliament attacks blogger… So much for pluralism! « Childofeurope’s Weblog

  5. Absolutely Ridiculous situation… I also don’t agree with Gawain Towler’s views on Europe – but this is a matter of principle. Glad to see all the A-list Eurobloggers participating…

  6. Pingback: England Expects Blog Censorship: Blog Platform | The Wardman Wire

  7. A-list Euro-bloggers? WTF? Europe is listing us all now?

  8. Pingback: Progress on England Expects Blog Censorship: Update and Progress | The Wardman Wire

  9. At least you can’t blame the EU for inconsistancy. Dissenting voices will be silenced one way or another and while this move against England Expects is dissapointing, it is far from suprising.