Sunday, April 25, 2004

Free Speech For Tony Martin

Marcus at Harry's Place is disturbed by Tony Martin's latest contribution to political debate (urging people to vote BNP and UKIP), saying that he's revealed his 'true colours' at last. There's also debate at the Tony Martin Forum.

Marcus also finds it 'inexplicable' that Tony Martin became a cause celebre. I'm tempted to respond that if he doesn't understand, explanation won't help. But here are a few suggestions. Look at the burglary statistics. Consider they have risen by around 1000% (ten times) in the last fifty years, so there are people of Mr Martin's age who can remember when crime was low (my children asked me the other day - 'do you know anyone who hasn't been burgled ?' 'Grandma' 'Yes, but she was mugged'.) Look at the risible, pathetic clear-up rates. Look at the statistics on householders killed by burglars - I'm not sure if the Home Office keep figures on those killed by non-burgling 'intruders'. Read Theodore Dalrymple, as I know you do, but think about what it is like to live as a law-abiding person in the underclass world he describes. But enough of this.

Two points here. The first is that the question of whether he should have been imprisoned is nothing at all to do with his views. I'm surprised that Marcus (isn't he a lawyer ?) is able to ignore the distinction between opinion and action. The Birmingham Six were arrested while travelling to the funeral of a Republican activist. One of them after release gave a speech in Belfast urging republicans to send more British troops home in body bags. But vile as their politics may have been, it doesn't constitute proof that they killed twenty-four people in Birmingham in 1974. Only Government front-bencher Chris Mullin knows who did that - and he ain't saying.

The second is that Tony Martin has a perfect right to vote for and support any party he wishes. That's what being free is about. I support his right to be free and his right to self-defence. As far as I know he hasn't applied for a job as Professor of Politics.

"There is going to be a dictator in this country, but there are such things as benign dictators. Too much liberalism is worse than too little. The politicians as we know them are already anachronisms."

I agree with three-quarters of that, and even the first quarter ("There is going to be a dictator in this country") is an opinion which can be argued one way or the other. I certainly hope there isn't - although if there is, as Stephen Pollard reports, it's more likely to be of the Left than the Right.

Of course benign dictatorship is theoretically the best form of government - apart from the small difficulty of how you change them, and what you do if the dictator isn't as benign as you thought.

Just as democracy is the worst form of government - apart from all the others.

The Telegraph article also reveals that TM has no intention of voting himself.

Interestingly the BNP website has ignored this story despite Martin's undoubted popularity - when you're rebranding yourself as squeaky-clean, democratic and user-friendly, the last thing you want is a loose cannon on the deck arguing that he's supporting you and is waiting for a dictatorship. "Vote BNP And Give Britain A Dictator", as the Telegraph translates it, is not the marketing strategy I'd adopt.

TM's habit of speaking his mind means that he's likely to be a liability to any political party. And on a personal note, I was worried for him when he left prison as a celebrity. He struck me as not a worldly man, and I was somewhat concerned by reports of his being wined and dined by the author of "How To Join The Club Of The Rich And Famous" and wife of John McVicar, who has herself been acquitted of murder.

But he also struck me a the kind of chap who didn't suffer fools gladly - what the Americans would call an 'ornery' and 'cussed' type. Not bad qualities in today's world. It was probably always going to end in tears. I'd put money on any attempt to use him by the BNP, UKIP or NF ending likewise.

Stand as an independent, Tony ! In the immortal words of M. Poujade "Throw The Rascals Out !"

No comments: