THE full extent of the Tory plans to smash up the right to free speech was revealed yesterday by an unlikely source, the new Tory business secretary, Sajid Javid.
In a leaked memo to David Cameron, dated 12 May, Javid makes clear his opposition to Home Secretary May’s proposal to vet every television programme before they are transmitted and ban the broadcasting of anything deemed by the Tory government to be ‘extremist’.
This plan by Cameron and May is contained in a document entitled ‘Extremism Strategy – A Stronger Britain’ which outlines the extension of powers to the government regulator Ofcom to vet all broadcasts including ‘television-like on-demand programme services’ for ‘extremist content’ and ban anything it doesn’t like.
At present, Ofcom has the power to intervene after a broadcast has been made but this new rule introduces complete censorship and the banning of any programme or news that undermines ‘British values’, that is the values of the ruling class and its Tory government.
The definition of extremism for the Tories is very wide indeed and was laid out in their election manifesto. It includes ‘harmful activities’ by individuals and groups – harmful includes any risk of public disorder, any form of harassment, alarm or distress or creating a ‘threat to the functioning of democracy’.
Under this definition, every striker is an extremist, every strike causes distress to someone – especially the employers who are always alarmed and distressed at losing profit through strikes.
Under this proposed law, there would be no reporting or programmes about the effect of cuts and the struggle of working class families against government policies like the bedroom tax.
Such reports would most certainly spread alarm and despondency amongst Tory MPs.
Equally, any demonstration aimed at changing these policies would be illegal as they threaten the ‘democratic right’ of a Tory government to drive workers into poverty.
One of the great boasts of bourgeois democracy is that it has a free press and free broadcasting, complete freedom of speech, as a guarantee against despotic rule by government. Now this is being trampled into the ground.
In his letter, Javid expresses his alarm about such a brazen step, saying: ‘It should be noted that other countries with a pre-transmission regulatory regime are not known for their compliance with rights relating to freedom of expression and government may not wish to be associated with such regimes.’
Clearly, Javid and the other Tory ministers reported to be nervous about May and Cameron’s determination to end democratic rights are not fully on-board with the requirements of British capitalism expressed by the Tory government.
The requirement of a bankrupt British capitalist system is to inflict massive cuts of billions of pounds on workers, to smash up the welfare state completely and privatise every public service it doesn’t close down.
In order to carry out this attack, the facade of ‘democracy’ has to go and the capitalist state placed on a civil war footing.
The attack on freedom of speech, along with the attack on the right to strike, is aimed not at Islamic terrorists – who pose no real threat to the capitalist state – but at the main enemy, the working class and its leadership.
The Tories will undoubtedly follow up censorship with outright bans on any socialist publication that calls for a fight against capitalism.
This is a measure of how desperate and weak the ruling class is today. It cannot permit any opposition to its class war policies.
It would be a fatal mistake for the working class to underestimate just how vicious the British ruling class is – in its acute crisis it is fully prepared to dispense with every democratic right and impose dictatorial rule in order to save its own skin.
The working class must respond to this attack by demanding that the leadership of the TUC either call an immediate general strike to bring down the Tories or face being removed.
Vital to this struggle is the building of the WRP, to take the leadership of the working class and lead it to power through the victory of the socialist revolution.