The Free Speech Union (FSU) is another right-wing concoction of the usual screaming heads, created to grab airtime and column inches from complicit news media but its main objective is much more sinister: To channel funds for legal action to impose yes-platforming of bigotry, to stop action being taken against perpetrators of such bigotry and to shut down oppositional voices.
FSU said it believes “free speech is currently under assault across the Anglosphere, particularly in those areas where it matters most, such as schools, universities, the arts, the entertainment industry and the media. The aim of the Free Speech Union is to restore it and protect it.” FSU meant there are restrictions in public arenas on far-right speech that is designed to cause division, encourage prejudice, misrepresent and deceive, including restrictions on speakers who promote racism.
To counter the restrictions FSU is “in discussions with lawyers and insurance experts about setting up a fully-underwritten insurance scheme that will provide members with access to specialist lawyers and will completely cover any costs associated with legal action. Our ambition is to raise enough money from donors to create a war chest so we’re in a position to offer assistance with costs ourselves.”
FSU’s protection of bigotry in the workplace includes, or will do so, the following services.
“If you’ve lost work because you breached a company speech code and/or because your political/philosophical beliefs are at odds with your employer’s we may be able to provide you with legal assistance, including crowdfunding to help pay your legal costs.”
“If you’re involved in a disciplinary process at work for breaching a company speech code” then FSU suggested joining the Workers of England Union, a fake Trades Union, that “has won tens of thousands of pounds for its members whose philosophical beliefs have resulted in them being discriminated against in the workplace.”
“We may be able to help if someone has started a petition/open letter trying to get you fired from your job for exercising your lawful right to free speech.”
Legal assistance will be available for any bigot, xenophobe or racist who was called a bigot, xenophobe or racist on a social media platform.
“If it [social media comment] goes beyond criticism – such as attributing extremist views to you that you don’t hold – then we might be able to help.”
FSU is keen to coerce universities into hosting far-right speakers.
“If you’re no-platformed by a university we’ll encourage you to fight back and members of our advisory councils may be able to tell you what remedies are available to you.”
The Tory government created the falsely-named Office For Students (OfS) in 2017 to assist the imposition of far-right views in universities. The then universities minister Jo Johnson, brother of Boris Johnson, said OfS would have power to fine or suspend universities who refused to be a platform for such views. Johnson appointed Toby Young to the board of OfS but he left two weeks later following objections from universities and others regarding Young’s lack of competence for the role and his views on genetics. Toby Young is founder and director at FSU.
Other company officers at FSU include (among others) the standard motley crew: Douglas Murray (director), formerly of new colonialist think-tank Henry Jackson Society, a regular contributor to the Spectator; Ian Rons (co-founder), creator of The Daily Sceptic, formerly called Lockdown Sceptics, a forum and blog site for contrarian, reckless, anti-science opinions on Covid pandemic; Radomir Tylecote (co-founder and director), a fellow of hard-right think-tank Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA); Nigel Biggar (director) whose attempt to impose a false depiction of the history of British colonialism on students at Oxford University was opposed by many of the university’s academics and their opposition was used as part of the justification for the creation of OfS – opposition to Biggar; Sigrun Olafsdottir (chief operating officer), formerly in a similar role at Toby Young’s New Schools Network; Bryn Harris (chief legal counsel), most recently paralegal at Taylor Vinters, a “legal and advisory business helping innovators and entrepreneurs,” (Taylor Vinters was convicted in 2020 of money laundering on behalf of property investors), and author of an essay advocating that Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union should not be transposed into UK law after Brexit; Paul Staines (media/PR advisory council), editor-in-chief of extremist racist Guido Fawkes news site; Jan Macvarish (Education and Events Director), delivered a speech in 2020 called ‘The Casual Brutality of Cancel Culture‘; David Goodhart (advisory council), anti-immigrant, anti-single parent, Tebbit-like creator of targets for bigots to attack; Allison Pearson (media/PR advisory council), a bankrupt and journalist; Andrew Doyle (advisory council), creator of purposefully offensive online troll character Titania McGrath; Julia Hartley-Brewer (media/PR advisory council), talkRADIO bloviator and fantasist; former Brexit party MEP Claire Fox (advisory council); Matthew Goodwin (advisory council), fellow at Chatham House think-tank; David Green (advisory council), founder and director of right-wing think-tank Civitas; Mark Littlewood (advisory council), director-general of IEA and former adviser to David Cameron; Lionel Shriver (advisory council), author and expectorator of extreme bigotry in The Spectator; David Starkey (advisory council), historian and broadcasters’ favourite right-wing screaming head.
It is useful to note the names of FSU’s ‘Legal Advisory Council.’
- Rebecca Butler – Kings Bench Chambers
- Paul Diamond – Christian Legal Centre
- Patrick Garland – former High Court judge
- John Jolliffe – FTB Chambers
- Spencer Keen – Spencer Keen
- Graham Lodge – retired barrister
- James Montgomery – No5 Chambers
- Wanjiru Njoya – University of Exeter
- Peter Smith – Al Tamimi
- Andrew Tettenborn – Heterodox Academy
- Raymond Wacks – retired professor
FSU’s focus on legal action as a tool to impose far-right views on an audience is an admittance of defeat. Its people and those it represents are unable to argue their points of view coherently because their opinions are driven by warped prejudices, directed by anti-social politics and incompatible with reason, logic and didactic narrative. A screaming head or a Git possesses only powers of repetition and interruption.
FSU supports victimhood of far-right voices.
“Regardless of your profession, or whether you’re a student or a retiree, we may come to your defence if you find yourself under attack for exercising your legal right to free speech, whether by the courts or the police, by your employer, by colleagues or activists, or by outrage mobs on social media and elsewhere.”
cancelled adj. Subjected to sustained and erudite criticism that obliterates a political view, normally applied to far-right screaming heads after their vacuous arguments were destroyed
Links to brief descriptions of other right-wing think-tanks: UK think-tanks