Give me the power to ban hate march

by Joe Anderson

As a lifelong trade unionist and anti-fascist, the right to protest is one that I hold dear. Even when those marching are doing so in a cause with which I don’t agree, I respect the principle of free speech and peaceful protest.

But like all freedoms, there are limits and I have just reached mine. Today, a so-called “White Man March” will come to the streets of Liverpool. It is being led by a rag-bag assortment of neo-Nazis spouting the usual, age-old drivel.

The group organising the march, National Action, sent a charming letter to my home claiming that if any attempt is made to impede their “chaos and mayhem” then Liverpool “will go up in flames”. It warns me that “we may even pay you a visit if things are played against us”, signing off with: “Only bullets will stop us!”

Its website claims the group holds “a monopoly on truth” and that its members are not afraid “to swing the bat at the enemy”. Of course it’s the usual Hitler-loving, race-hating garbage, but it’s no less shocking for that. Their views are so extreme and utterly noxious that they make the BNP look like Amnesty International.

The challenge for our society is to always stand firm in a spirit of solidarity against the hate-filled few whose sole interest is division and violence.

More practically, I have written to Home Secretary, Theresa May, asking that she urgently reviews the arrangements that currently stop city leaders like me from simply banning such groups from our streets. Currently, I need to appeal to her for the necessary permission. This is cumbersome and bureaucratic and often too slow.

I have asked her to consider using the current Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill to grant powers to city leaders like me to ban marches that are clearly harmful to the public good. Instead of councils and the police making appeals to the Home Office, why not make organisations like National Action appeal our locally-made decision?

This seems to fit with the current spirit of localism and allows the authorities to respond to the wishes of local people who are as sickened at the prospect of such blatant racist extremists on our streets as I am.

The time has come to stand up and change the rules to create a better balance between rights to freedom of speech and the right for people not to be abused and intimidated in their own city.  Our country has a long and progressive tradition as a place where protest and radical ideas enrich the fabric of our discussions and new ideas and opinions must always be heard.

But if the sole aim of such groups is to spread fear and intimidation then we should act and the government should give people like me the powers to do so.

Joe Anderson is Labour Mayor of Liverpool

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12 Responses to “Give me the power to ban hate march”

  1. swatantra says:

    Great stuff Joe.
    Ban the EDL and Islamofacist groups. In fact lock the ringleaders up for a week, in solitary. They are nothing but trouble makers. And lets include the provocative Orange Boys as well. Its an absolute disgrace that these people can cause so much trouble and disruption on our streets. Those 3 water cannon could prove quite an investment in cleansing society of such filth.

  2. Mike Stallard says:

    You are right to ask to ban the march.

    BUT your remarks about the right to demonstrate peacefully are right on the mark too. If you ban marches, you stop people protesting peacefully. As the pressure mounts, the eventual riot will be truly amazing. Think 2011.
    The Labour government, then the Conservative-LibDem and now the present government are, in accordance with the 1951 protocol, allowed/are allowing very generous asylum provisions. The poor white people who have found their towns and cities changed into Bangla Desh/Romania/Lithuania are not happy bunnies.
    I got pushed out of the way in my own street in Peterborough by a Bangla Deshi coming out of the mosque. I have not forgotten that. My home town, the place where I was brought up, is now more foreign to me than Dubai because it is a Muslim ghetto. I have the ability to say things like that and let off steam. Other people do not and they quickly turn to violence.
    Please do respect that. Our very identity is being threatened and nobody seems to give a damn.

  3. Tafia says:

    But Labour don’t support devolved Mayors and as things stand will oppose the Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill unless Corbyn wins.

    So it’s a bit rich asking for an increase in proposed powers unless you back Corbyn.

  4. Bob says:

    You Joe, in particular, and any mayor, should have to apply to the courts. What if it was a march of radical fundamental religionists, or a group supporting religious based terrorists would you want to ban that?

  5. Bob says:

    Tafia, Joe only supports Joe, what’s best for Joe, all praise to Joe. Would Joe ban the James Larkin Society or are they to his taste. Have not heard his calls to ban them at all. Double standards methinks.

    Living in Liverpool many see this man as a political blowhard. When he did not get his way about the coming together of the five councils, started when he and his pal Dowd (ex leader of Sefton Council now MP for Bootle) did not arrive on time for the meeting and were outvoted 3 to 2, he threatened to to take the case to law, using council tax payers money of course. His decision making abilities are questionable in particular about turning the Cunard building into a cruise liner terminal.

  6. PeterE says:

    The whole point of free speech is to allow those whose views you detest to have a voice.

    So long as marchers are not actively promoting violence or hatred, they are entitled to protest.

    And somehow I doubt whether you would be quite so keen to ban extremist Muslims calling for death to Jews and gays.

  7. Mike says:

    PeterE is spot on.

    This sounds awfully authoritarian, and I definitely hope this isn’t representative of Labour consensus, going forward.

  8. swatantra says:

    Peter is wrong. We must show Zero Tolerance to the intolerant and facists and anti-democracy factions in Society. Peaceful protest is ok but very often the protests are meant to provoke, see Chris Mullins ‘a very British Coup’ with agent provacateurs planted to cause maximum disruption and perhaps casualities. And that cannot be allowed to happen. At long last Chowdray has been taken in; the same should be done for the EDL.

  9. John P Reid says:

    Swtntra, A very British coup was a week of fiction,and the EdL formed because Islamists were holding up behead British troops, placards and the police did nothing,

  10. “Ban the EDL and Islamofacist groups” and that should include the so-called Stop the War Coalition which is another front for antisemitic racism. For the first time an overtly Jewish performer (Matisyahu) who is NOT from Israel has been banned from performing (in Spain) thanks to antisemitic and anti-Zionist pressure.

    Josephine Bacon

  11. Bob says:

    John P Reid says:

    ‘Swtntra, A very British coup was a week of fiction,and the EdL formed because Islamists were holding up behead British troops, placards and the police did nothing’

    Yes but would Joe want to ban them, that is the question, but will he answer it. He was on Radio Merseyside today having a go about banning this march, but actually blamed the Home Office and the police. You have to ask did the council and the police submit a request to the Home Office to ban the march, did they even submit a risk assessment.

    To allow a jumped up mayor to stop marches and deny free speech is a slippery slope, that power should rest with the courts and the courts only.

  12. Tafia says:

    If you carry placards or make chants that support something illegal, support breaking the law, support terrorism or support hatred then the Police should step in and forcibly disperse you – with batons and horses if necessary and arrest and prosecute the organisers.

    And I don’t care if that means the Police have to confront islamists or the EDL or the pro-hunt lobby or pro-abortionists or pro-life or even union piquets that have overstepped the mark. We pay a lot of tax money for the Police Force and that is their job whether they like the idea of confrontation or not . If they don’t want to do it dispose of them and get some that will. Poles would probably do it cheaper and more efficiently anyway.

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