Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 December 2014

Howard leads attacks on controversial forum

The 40-year-old tradition observed by mainstream parties of denying a public platform to figures from the extreme right could be "definitively" broken by last night's event at the Oxford Debating Society, the BNP leader, Nick Griffin, said yesterday.

The 40-year-old tradition observed by mainstream parties of denying a public platform to figures from the extreme right could be "definitively" broken by last night's event at the Oxford Debating Society, the BNP leader, Nick Griffin, said yesterday.



Mr Griffin praised Oxford University students for voting to allow the meeting to go ahead, saying that it was a sign that modern youth has "more sense" than their elders. Mr Griffin and his fellow guest David Irving, the historian who has denied that the Nazis sent Jews to gas chambers, were smuggled into last night's meeting by security men employed by Oxford University to avoid a clash with protesters outside.



The decision by the Oxford Debating Society to invite the two men to speak has been widely condemned across the political spectrum. Michael Howard, a former leader of the Conservative Party, added his voice to the criticisms yesterday. "The Oxford debating union should not have given these people that platform," he said. "Obviously, they are entitled to their views – everybody has a right to free speech – but there is a separate question as to whether you give people like that a platform, and that is undesirable."



Speaking to The Independent before the meeting, Mr Griffin said: "This meeting should not even be about the BNP. It's about freedom of speech, which is a very important absolute. I'm simply going to talk about freedom of speech and why it shouldn't be restricted."



Mr Griffin lists the laws on race relations dating back to the 1960s and 1970s among the threats to free speech. BNP policies include an end to all immigration to the UK and the forced removal of more than two million immigrants already here.



He added: "The liberal left elite are people from the 1968 generation. A lot of the present generation have shown more sensible views – hence the fact that it appears we are about to see the definitive breaking of a 40-year 'no platform' policy.



"We in the BNP are certainly not in the Fascist tradition. Free speech and democracy are our absolute core values."

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