Why ‘no platform’ is no good

“No platform”” is the mantra used by far left groups to describe their policy towards the BNP and other parties. The idiom is derived from the days when politicians would give their speeches on a platform (often specially designed) rather than the modern method of Internet and TV debate and speeches.

In theory at least, the practise of NP is simply that various groups such as students and unions actively work to deny “Fascists” an opportunity to speak in public. Various justifications are supplied by supporters of NP of their actions. A typical manifestation of this would be “Everybody has the right to believe what they want, but some views are so heinous that we must work to deny them a platform”. In other words (though less spoken by NP groups) you can think whatever you want, but don’t say it if we don’t like it.

The system is usually enforced by lobbying of various forms. Most often it comes in the form of protest threats and pledges of negative publicity. Whilst the NP crowd would have us believe the non sequitur that this is proof of the power of democracy, the reality is that many institutions and organisations cave in to the intimidation simply because they fear the violence from and ostentatious publicity for the far left groups.

But the events at Oxford Union last year provided a blueprint for the failings – both logical and practical – of the ‘no platform’ policy. When Nick Griffin and David Irving were invited to Oxford Union to debate the topic of “Free Speech”, various far left groups immediately placed public pressure on Oxford Union to reverse their decision. The board of the Union – which is a private club – held a meeting to discuss the issue. In the most democratic manner possible, they voted to go ahead with the debate. The NP advocates were incensed that their will had been denied.

With some very public resignations preceding, the night of the debate began in high tensions. Nick Griffin had to arrive at the Union several hours early in prescience of attempts by NP groups to block his entry. He was correct. The NP masses, some dressed in black face masks, others barely dressed at all, arrived and displayed their passion for democracy by chanting abuse and blocking students from entering the club. One large group of fifty or so stormed the Union and staged a ‘sit in’ protest. It didn’t work. The night went ahead – albeit split into two separate areas – and a great debate was held.

Lancaster UAF lamented their sorrow that the students of Oxford simply hadn’t seen the folly of their ways and had made a terrible mistake. (In other words, the students of one of Britain’s greatest universities were so stupid, they had not bowed to the intimidation from UAF).

But ‘no platform’ is fallacious in every sense. It is neither practical, logical, or morally correct. Let me tell you why:

1) It is outrageously hypocritical.

NP is a concept introduced and enforced by people who have absolutely no legal power or democratic mandate. Groups such as UAF and ‘Hope Not Hate’ do not stand for election. Therefore, these people take it on themselves to spit in the face of democracy and decide in their pseudo-elitist, unelected groups as to whom the rest of the population are permitted to hear and whom they are not. Needless to say, those whom the world are forbidden to hear are those who disagree with far left politics.

Such a policy is enforced phsically on regular occasions. Can you imagine anything more hypocritical than such actions from a group that claims to oppose Fascism?

2) It is counterproductive.

Westerners are raised in a cultural and academic environment that encourages critical thinking and questioning of authority. If I tell you right now: “Don’t you dare read the rest of this text!” you will have two reactions. One of them will be “Who the hell are you to tell me what I can and can’t read?!” and the other would be “Wow! I wonder what it is in this text that I can’t see! Must be good!”. You will become twice as determined to read it.

So when the UAF and their ilk attempt to enforce their rules on people, a sizeable number of them will have their curiosity tweaked and will dislike the UAF.

3) It is unprogressive.

There was a time when it was sacrilege to believe that The Earth orbited The Sun. There was a time when it was abominable to believe that women should have the right to vote. If we allow self declared thought police to control what sacred cows we can and can’t discuss, who is to say that this will not be a serious liability to our development?

4) It creates hysteria, lies and corruption.

Last week I was in a “debate” with a UAF supporter (you know who you are!) on Facebook who had requested (and been denied) that I was banned from a certain group (or as he put it: “Can we adopt no platform?”). He went on to say that “racial assaults have soared in Barking and Dagenham where the BNP have seats. When the BNP get confident, they get vicious.”

I immediately stepped in to show him a police report that specifically showed racial assaults had dropped in the area. If this UAF member had his way, his lies would have been allowed to spread because I would have been banned.

And lies eminate far more frequently from political groups who have no opposition to balance them. They believe in their own power, they become arrogant and they become dishonest. There are examples of this around the world.

5) It is unnecessary.

We already have the only restriction on free speech that is ever required. It is called Common Law. Common Law is apolitical (in theory) and has evolved over the hundreds of years that we Brits have striven towards democracy. As such it is not designed from the whims of any self important extremists, it is not so vulnerable to fashionable thought of one short period and it is democratic. Common Law provides the protection we need from those who would incite others to do us harm, or violate our civil rights. Many people have died struggling for Common Law to protect us all, and it should never be overruled by a mob.

I don’t doubt that there are many good people who mistakenly believe that ‘no platform’ is the answer. They are wrong, and they are lending themselves to one of the most hypocritical practices of the modern age.


One Response to “Why ‘no platform’ is no good”

  1. You have some real good articles.

    Thank you for writing them.

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