Now the EU is censoring its own MEPs
Brussels bureaucrats, in their infinite wisdom, have decided that the president of the EU parliament should be able to pull the live feed of debates if he believes the member speaking is spouting ‘hate speech’. Under this new rule, the offending speaker would be fined up to €9,000.
Some EU types claim that action of this kind is ‘long overdue’. ‘There have been a growing number of cases of politicians saying things that are beyond the pale of normal parliamentary discussion and debate’, UK Labour MEP Richard Corbett told the Associated Press. ‘What if this became not isolated incidents, but specific, where people could say, “Hey, this is a fantastic platform. It’s broad, it’s live-streamed. It can be recorded and repeated. Let’s use it for something more vociferous, more spectacular.”’
What Corbett and the other MEPs behind this daft move don’t seem to understand is that this is censorship, pure and simple. The definition of so-called hate speech is highly subjective. Certain terms do not mean the same thing to all people. What’s more, if an elected representative is being racist, the best thing to do is allow those watching the stream to hear them, and, more importantly, to challenge them. Only the shady, unaccountable EU could think this is a good idea.
While it seems perfectly reasonable to rebuke politicians for effing and blinding, as is done in Westminster, our elected representatives must have the right to say whatever they like without fear of censorship. In the House of Commons, MPs have parliamentary privilege – it’s a vital part of British democracy. Freedom of speech is essential for healthy and open political debate.
Institutions like the EU, and indeed our own parliament, need to be as transparent as possible. Our elected representatives work for us, and we have a right to know what they are talking about. Fortunately, we in the UK are on our way out of the anti-democratic husk that is the EU. However, until they follow suit, there are still 27 other countries who have a right to know what goes on in those Brussels chambers.
Guy Birchall is a writer based in London.