Establishment politicians have railed at former UKIP leader Malcolm Pearson for inviting Tommy Robinson to interview him in Parliament.
Baroness Sayeeda Warsi used a debate on so-called online hate speech to ask Home Office minister Baroness Susan Williams if she would work to “eradicate” hate speech, and upbraided Lord Pearson as an aside.
“Does my noble friend agree with me that all Members of this House should be working to eradicate all forms of hate speech?” began the Muslim peer, a former Tory Party chairman and Communities minister whose time in office was marred by an expenses scandal and two breaches of the Ministerial Code.
“I note that the noble Lord, Lord Pearson, is desperate to get into this question,” she continued.
“Maybe if he has the opportunity to do so, he would explain whether he thinks it appropriate for Members to host the likes of Tommy Robinson within the precincts of this House at a time when there is an increased risk in relation to hate crime and Members of the other House have been receiving hate letters.”
I could not agree more with my noble friend that this is not just a governmental or societal issue,” gushed Baroness Williams in response.
“As legislators for this country, we have a strong leadership role to take, and it dismays me when I see certain quite extreme people invited into the Palace of Westminster to propagate their hate.”
Tommy Robinson founded the English Defence League (EDL) street movement, but departed for the Quilliam counter-extremism organisation after claiming it had been taken over by extremist elements. He now works as an independent journalist, with a particular focus on Muslim grooming gangs, mass migration, and the impact of radical Islam on British society.
Lord Pearson had told Robinson in his interview: “The House of Lords is a very europhile place, but it’s also a very Islamophile place, and people like the people in the House of Lords are completely out of touch … So they just shut their minds off, and anyone who tries to talk about it is immediately accused of hate crime.”
Lord Pearson noted that it has even been suggested he should not be allowed to ask questions about Islam, grooming gangs, and so on in the House of Lords because they endanger the security of the House and amount to “hate crime”, but speech in the British legislature’s chambers is protected by parliamentary privilege.
People indulging in “hate speech” — which can be “something that isn’t a criminal offence but the victim, or anyone else, believes it was motivated by prejudice or hate”, according to the Metropolitan Police — are not always so fortunate, with thousands arrested across the country under section 127 of the Communications Act.