Labour Will Be a Disaster for Freedom of Speech

Sick of woke censorship? You ain’t seen nothing yet. With Labour coming to power in a landslide, the Free Speech Union is bracing for an all-out assault on our precious freedom of expression. Daily Sceptic Editor-in-Chief – and General Secretary of the FSU – Toby Young has written about what to look out for in Spiked. Here’s an excerpt.

I’m worried that a Labour Government will bring in new laws that will criminalise vast swathes of speech that are currently legal. [At the FSU] we anticipate fighting a number of test cases in which we challenge whether those laws are compatible with our existing laws, including the Human Rights Act.

For instance, Labour has promised in its manifesto to bring in a ‘trans inclusive’ conversion-therapy ban, something the FSU has long been campaigning against. Conversion therapy, commonly understood as a coercive attempt to change a person’s sexual orientation, is already against the law in Britain. So what does Labour want to ban, exactly? The answer is any deviation from the ‘affirmative care’ approach to gender-confused adolescents. The FSU is concerned that if Labour passes this law, parents who challenge their children’s belief that they’re “born in the wrong body” or try to talk their children out of having dangerous medical procedures could end up in jail. That’s a law we think may be incompatible with Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects the right to a family and private life, and Article 10, which protects the right to free speech.

Another source of concern is Labour’s proposed Race Equality Act. Announced earlier this year, the act will further institutionalise critical race theory and attempt to foist diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives on to the workplace. As we’ve seen at the FSU, if you challenge the ideology underpinning DEI initiatives – by pointing out that the U.K. is one of the least racist countries in the world, for instance – you can find yourself out of a job. We anticipate being involved in lots of employment tribunal cases involving people who’ve been fired for challenging woke diversity training. …

I think there’s a real risk Labour will attack the freedom of the press, forcing newspapers and magazines to sign up to a state-controlled press regulator. Indeed, Starmer’s frontbenchers have consistently vowed to reinstate Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013 – abolished by the Tories in the Media Act 2024 – which would effectively push the press to sign up to a regulator. Publishers that don’t will have to pay the legal fees of anyone who sues them, even if the publisher wins. If Labour does do this, we will defend any newspaper or magazine that refuses to kowtow to de facto state regulation by appealing to Article 10 of the European Convention, among other things.

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