The Free Speech Union has written to Matthew Rycroft, the Permanent Secretary at the Home Office, to complain about a directive to Home Office staff to include their pronouns in their email signatures. They are concerned that this instruction, which appears to be mandatory, is a form of compelled speech that violates the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion and the right to free speech (Articles 9 and 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights). They also argue it is a breach of the Equality Act.
Staff in the Visa, Status and Information Services department have been instructed to format their email signatures to include their pronouns on their email signatures:
[Name of unit] | Visa, Status and Information Services
Customer Services Group | UK Visas and Immigration
Address/office location [on one line – e.g. Level 3, Foundry House, Sheffield]
T: +44 (0)XX XXXX XXXX
M: +44 (0)XX XXXX XXXX
OUR VSI Our People Our Operations Our Customers
This is they have been told because of “the wider cultural changes” taking shape in the department. The Free Speech Union is asking the Home Office’s Permanent Secretary to ensure that no employee is penalised for refusing to include their pronouns in their email signatures and to make it clear to civil servants that stating pronouns on email signatures is not, and must not become, mandatory. They are hopeful of success because Matthew Rycroft has not included his pronouns on his official uk.gov biography…
The Court of Appeal has just ruled a landmark judgement that the recording of non-crime hate incidents is an unlawful interference with freedom of expression. The court explicitly says that such matters being recorded and stored in police databases is likely to have a serious “chilling effect” on public debate. Astonishing: some common sense…
The case was sparked by ex-police officer Harry Miller receiving complaints over allegedly “transphobic” tweets, leading to a visit by a Humberside police officer in January 2019 who recorded it as a “hate incident”. While the High Court last year ruled that the police force’s actions were a “disproportionate interference” with Miller’s right to freedom of expression, his challenge to the College of Police’s guidance was dismissed, with the court finding it “serves legitimate purposes and is not disproportionate”.
Today’s victory should be welcome to all who believe in the right to free speech both on and offline. Welcoming the judgment, Toby Young said:
“The Free Speech Union is proud to have played a part in winning this landmark victory, but the lion’s share of the credit must go to Harry Miller. Thanks to his courage and tenacity, we can all rest a little easier in our beds tonight, knowing the police are not about to knock on our doors because we’ve made an inappropriate joke on Twitter. They should be policing our streets, not our tweets.”
Merry Christmas one and all…
An article in this week’s New Statesman (“In the Post-Corbyn World, What Next for Alternative Left Media?“) spurred Guido to do some research into their traffic and how they are performing generally. The short answer is not very well in terms of raw audience size. In comparison to right-of-centre political news and opinion sites they are well behind. Like-for-like The Spectator has double the New Statesman’s readership. To give you an idea how much worse they are faring after the Corbyn-era glory days, consider this, Toby Young’s Daily Sceptic alone had last month more online readers than the New Statesman, Novara Media and Morning Star combined!
Even the upstart newly launched GB News website has more traffic than most left-wing websites and those same websites say GB News is failing. The question that needs answering is why are right-of-centre news and views outlets out-performing – in terms of audience reach – left-of-centre news and views websites? Some of them will argue that we’re looking in the wrong place – the audience is not just on their website. The Canary and Skwawkbox generate engagement on Facebook which outstrips their own native website audience by a multiple. Novara Media’s videos and podcasts are apparently seen by far more viewers and listeners than will read their articles. Owen Jones has his own lucrative YouTube channel. Of course GB News has a television channel so can’t be compared like-for-like, it also has an active online video audience, as do the Spectator and Unherd. They match the left for reach, similarly they tend to preach to the converted. The only place where the left-wing media seems dominant is on social media, Twitter in particular.
Is the left’s supposed dominance of Twitter entirely true? The left are are certainly more active on Twitter, in terms of followers however @GuidoFawkes has more than any of the left-wing politics sites. Academic research suggests that left-wing Twitter is more active and that activity is mainly preaching to the converted and engaging with other left-wingers. The left is more active on Twitter undoubtedly and it gives the micro-blogging site a hostile atmosphere for right-of-centre users, however election after election shows that, in the words of David Cameron, “Britain is not Twitter”. As the SNP’s Cyber-Nats demonstrate all too loudly, ferocious activity is not evidence of numbers.
Is it money? The New Statesman is backed by Mike Danson, a billionaire willing to bankroll the millions in annual losses of the magazine without flinching. Novara Media got funding from a foundation backed by millionaire philanthropists, Tribune Magazine has the backing of an American publisher. The healthy tradition on the left of funding publications from readers’ donations means Novara Media and Owen Jones have six-figure revenues and paid staff, on the right only Toby Young’s Daily Sceptic is funded likewise. The Spectator and Guido Fawkes are profit-making commercially competitive media enterprises that stand on their own two feet, they are also read in droves by left-of-centre readers who don’t share their editorial line for the news, gossip and entertainment, whereas few right-of-centre readers would enjoy reading the dreary ideological output of most left-wing publications. Funding isn’t the problem.
Perhaps the answer is simply that the likes of the Guardian, Daily Mirror, Buzzfeed News, Huffington Post and the BBC provide most left-of-centre news consumers with satisfactory confirmation of their prejudices such that they just don’t have to venture out to the alt-left for content that appeals. Is it just that in the wider media context it is harder for the alt-left to appeal beyond an ideological core readership?
It was a surprisingly low-energy debate between Toby Young and Ian Dunt on Newsnight last night as they went up against each other to bash heads on the efficacy and morality of national lockdowns. During the segment Toby held his hands up and confessed he’d “got that wrong” about the virus fizzling out in June, he doubled down on his argument that lockdowns destroy the economy and argued that lockdowns increased deaths in the developing world. Both men asked each other how they sleep at night, Guido imagines after this fairly relaxed debate the answer’s pretty well…
As usual depending which side you are on colours your view of who did better. Guido is a swing voter on lockdowns and masks, it seems that masks only hinder transmission in that they stop you coughing the virus onto someone else, they don’t really protect the wearer that much. Lockdowns clearly wreck the economy and will have terrible repercussions for children’s education, general mental health and wellbeing. On the other hand, without an effective track and trace system it is impossible for politicians to avoid restrictions because no track and trace system could realistically cope with 2% of the population being infected. Shielding the vulnerable is just not possible now. Guido has no time for the anti-mask fundamentalists, who think the reciprocal courtesy of protecting others (to a debatable degree) by wearing masks, is the first step on the path to a totalitarian state.
Watch the interview in full:
The Metropolitan Police wrote to Darren Grimes over the investigation of him publishing his interview with David Starkey yesterday:
“We are writing to inform you that a senior officer has been appointed to conduct a review of this matter to ensure it remains proportionate and that all appropriate lines of inquiry are being considered.
While this review takes place, please note that at this time you are no longer required to attend Kingston Police Station on Friday 16 October 2020.”
Reading between the lines it looks like the Met are looking to get off this high horse without losing face. Though Darren is naturally cautious after the twists and turns of his 4 year battle with the Electoral Commission.
The Free Speech Union was able to find a top criminal solicitor to defend Darren and helped galvanise support across the media and in Government. Toby Young, general secretary of the Free Speech Union, tells Guido that he is “relieved that this is over, but alarmed that the police embarked on this witch-hunt in the first place. Starkey’s words never came anywhere near meeting the threshold for stirring up racial hatred, let alone Darren Grime’s decision to broadcast them.” You can find out more about the Free Speech Union and join at freespeechunion.org.
On tonight’s LIVE with LITTLEWOOD:
Host Mark Littlewood will be joined by talkRADIO’s Mike Graham; Centre for Policy Studies Director Robert Colvile; former MEP Patrick O’Flynn; Spiked’s Joanna Williams; politician Suzanne Evans; economist Andrew Lilico, the IEA’s Steve Davies, and free speech champion Toby Young.
JOIN IN THE DEBATE – LIVE at 6.30 – HERE or on YouTube.