This doesn’t need any supplementary comment does it? …
TRANSCRIPT OF BBC INTERVIEW (lifted from the Anxiety Culture Website)
- The BBC's John Humphrys interviewed Lord Falconer (the lord chancellor) on Radio 4 ('Today' news, 13/12/05). This part of the interview was about a woman found guilty of breaching the Serious Organised Crime & Police Act - for reading out names of soldiers killed in Iraq (at the Cenotaph in central London).
John Humphrys: Can I turn to another subject fairly quickly - and that is freedom of speech. What's happened to it? Why have we lost it? Why can't a woman stand near Number 10 Downing Street and read out a list of names without being arrested?
Lord Falconer: We have not, we have not. She was arrested, charged and convicted, and I think given a conditional discharge.
JH: Doesn't matter, she's got a criminal charge. She was not allowed to do something which Tony Blair himself has defended in the past. Let me read you what Mr Blair said: "I pass protesters every day at Downing Street and believe me, you name it, they protest against it. I may not like what they call me but I thank God they can. That's called freedom." We've lost that freedom.
LF: We have not lost that freedom.
JH: We have. She cannot stand in Downing Street and read out a list of names.
LF: John, we've introduced the European Convention on Human Rights that preserves freedom of speech.
JH: Tell that to the lady who's got a criminal conviction because she chose to stand outside Number 10 and read a list of names.
LF: There isn't a country in the world that doesn't take particular measures to protect its parliament.
JH: We didn't have to do it in the past, why do we do it now? Is she threatening Parliament by standing there quietly and calmly reading out a list of names?
LF: No, of course she isn't.
JH: And she's now got a criminal conviction.
LF: No, of course she's not threatening Parliament. But the question...
JH: Then why has she got a criminal conviction?
LF: Because it was a sensible measure to avoid disorder around Parliament.
JH: She was creating disorder? Standing there quietly reading out a list of names.
LF: Well, you describe that as depriving this country of freedom of speech which is hugely overdone.
JH: Yes. I and many, many other people do. Like the woman who appeared on Radio Five Live, on this programme, she said something about she wasn't terribly keen on homosexual men adopting children - she got a call from the police.
LF: Well I don't know anything about that. Freedom of speech is alive and well in this country and you are...
JH: So long as you don't exercise it near Parliament.
LF: Don't be ridiculous.
JH: I'm not being ridiculous.
LF: You are. We are a country which couldn't be freer, in its press, in what people say...
JH: So long as you don't want to exercise it near Parliament within one kilometre.
LF: The idea that you take a measure which is a public order measure, designed to protect our Parliament building as depriving people of freedom of speech is ridiculously overdone, if I may say so.
JH: I shall bear that in mind next time I want to stand outside Parliament and read my newspaper aloud, possibly an editorial that somebody doesn't like.
(category: political stuff)