McCarthyism is usually defined as “the politically motivated practice of making accusations of disloyalty, subversion, or treason without proper regard for evidence.” It’s also the process of making “reckless, unsubstantiated accusations, as well as demagogic attacks” on political opponents. These days it’s also a by-word for those who would use the accusations of ‘racism’ and ‘fascism’ as an excuse to oppress their political opponents (and for ‘racism’ and ‘fascism’ read British National Party!). Such oppression will start with a clamp down on free speech. Where it ends is anyone’s guess.
So who is promoting new McCarthyism this time? Oddly enough, it’s the turn of the Prison Officers Association. More specifically, it’s POA National Executive member Joe Simpson who appears to want to ban free speech and discriminate on political grounds.
Mr. Simpson is on record as saying the "BNP is an unrepentant nazi organisation and a danger to the public." He also feels that the "BNP is a threat to democracy and they must be stopped and defeated. We cannot continue to ignore the threat they pose."
Solidarity Trade Union isn’t in business to defend the BNP from such sweeping statements. We’re sure that they can do that for themselves.
However, we are in the business of defending the right of workers to support, join and vote for or against any political party they wish. And that must include the British National Party.
In doing this we are taking a principled stand.Solidarity is opposed to all forms of discrimination. It doesn’t matter if it’s based on race, religion, sexual orientation or political opinion. Discrimination is discrimination. Therefore, we believe in civil and religious liberties for all.
As our General Secretary – Patrick Harrington – has already noted, opposition to discrimination “is a matter of absolute principle. It applies to all workers. We can’t cherry pick here. We would support the rights of a member of the Socialist Workers Party as much as a member of the British National Party.”
It’s a mystery to us why one trade unionist – the POAs Joe Simpson – wants to dictate to other trade unionists what they can say, think and do.
Sweeping statements about ‘racism’ and ‘fascism’ are totally irresponsible. If we restrict free speech for one set of workers – say those who support the BNP – who’ll be next?
Our view is that an attack on one union member’s freedom of expression is an attack on us all. Precedents set against one group will later be used against others. Either we all have rights – or none of has rights.
This is particularly so when we’re dealing with what Guardian journalist Marina Hyde recently called “a principle as noble and important as free speech”.
Commenting on the whole issue of free speech for trade unionists, Patrick Harrington said:-
“It’s about free speech for all workers. It’s not just about the BNP. On saying that, discrimination is illegal under employment legislation. To try and ban workers from supporting the BNP is political discrimination. Discrimination is discrimination – no matter what way those with totalitarian tendencies like to dress it up.
As I’ve said before, I’m more than happy to represent any victim of a political show-trial. It doesn’t matter who is involved – I’m not interested in their politics, race, religion, ethnicity, culture or sexual orientation.
I’m also more than happy to represent workers who hold ‘unpopular’ or ‘controversial’ views. This includes those who support the BNP. It doesn’t matter what one’s personal view of the BNP is. If no-one stands up for them, who’ll be the next target for the new McCarthyists?”