Now the EU is censoring its own MEPs

Guy Birchall

Topics World

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.

Let’s cancel cancel culture

Free speech is under attack from all sides – from illiberal laws, from a stifling climate of conformity, and from a powerful, prevailing fear of being outed as a heretic online, in the workplace, or even among friends, for uttering a dissenting thought. This is why we at spiked are stepping up our fight for speech, expanding our output and remaking the case for this most foundational liberty. But to do that we need your help. spiked – unlike so many things these days – is free. We rely on our loyal readers to fund our journalism. So if you want to support us, please do consider becoming a regular donor. Even £5 per month can be a huge help. You can find out more and sign up here. Thank you! And keep speaking freely.

Donate now

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.

Topics World


Leave a comment

You must be logged in to comment. Log in or Register now.