This tweet provides an interesting insight into the mindset of Britain’s ruling classes and those who support them:
In England and Wales, a politician sending racist tweets like this would be liable for criminal prosecution. pic.twitter.com/zmorjBByOQ
— The Secret Barrister (@BarristerSecret) July 14, 2019
To Britain’s Metropolitan professional classes, this shows how beyond the pale Trump is. To me, it shows how catastrophically authoritarian Britain has become. I don’t know what Americans think about it, but I suspect they’re rather glad they’re an independent nation with a constitution which prevents citizens being prosecuted for unapproved speech. In fact, reading this tweet is probably the only thing which would make Americans glad they have the lawyers they do. That’s some achievement.
This story is not unrelated:
Scotland Yard performed a climbdown on Saturday following accusations it had attempted to use the furore over the leaking of comments by the British ambassador about President Trump to silence the British media.
As criticism mounted steadily over the Met’s warning to editors that they faced prosecution if they published leaked government documents, assistant commissioner Neil Basu issued a statement clarifying that the force did not want to stop the press from publishing stories.
His reassurance appeared to represent a U-turn from a statement Basu had issued less than 24 hours earlier in which he warned the “media not to publish leaked government documents that may already be in their possession, or which may be offered to them, and to turn them over to the police or give them back to their rightful owner, Her Majesty’s government”.
The reason the Met performed a U-turn is because it generated howls of outrage from the press, for example:
What a mess the Met Police have got themselves into attacking press freedom. No prosecution would have a chance of succeeding anyway. I predict a u-turn today by Commissioner overruling Mr Basu; if they stick with his threats to the media then there will be calls for resignations
— George Osborne (@George_Osborne) July 13, 2019
But you’ll notice that when ordinary people were being prosecuted for off-colour jokes, posting rap lyrics, and mean tweets the press was utterly silent. There’s a reason for this. The ruling classes, for which the mainstream media is simply a propaganda machine, believe they are harbingers of truth whose duty is to inform the plebs on what they must say, do, and think and as such their freedom of speech must not be curtailed. But the plebs are plebs, and who knows what harm they may cause if they’re allowed to go around saying what they like? Therefore, we need rules on allowable speech to keep them in line.
The truth is, free speech is dead in Britain, assuming it was ever alive. What we have here is a fight between different sets of the ruling classes and those who hope to join them over who gets to control the language, while both agreeing that the oiks should be chucked in jail for saying the wrong things.