The Left cry wolf over Amber Rudd’s speech

What a week of non-stories this was. First of all, in the wake of Jeremy Corbyn’s pitiful, and often rather embarrassing reinvention, everything returned back to normal and it was revealed even he wasn’t sure what Labour’s policy on defence was and that he would get back to us on that. Then, it transpired that Marine Le Pen was in Trump tower, and Farage met with Donald Trump’s ambassador in Brussels, as if we should be surprised that political allies had meetings.

But then we had one of the biggest exaggerations of a non-story in a long while, in Amber Rudd’s supposed hate-speech address she gave at the party conference.

The Twitter left jumped to their keyboards, copying and pasting links so fast, that most probably didn’t even read what was actually said.

It then transpired that Ms Rudd’s speech had not been noted down as having been an example of hate-speech at all, but rather just the police noting down a complaint, before deciding that there was no hate-speech to investigate. While being officially noted down as a “non-crime hate incident”, all this really amounts to is a filing away of someone once having made an official complaint to the police, after being rejected because of its brazen ludicrousness.

Now, I will not pretend to be a fan of Amber Rudd; I think she is weak. But let’s be very clear about something: the way that people jumped to criticise Amber Rudd and make her out to be a criminal was a disgrace. While many on the Left accuse the media of taking everything that Jeremy Corbyn does wrong and making the most of it, this incident showed theLleft to be guilty of opportunism of the worst kind.

But while it might be a perfect opportunity to jump on the band-wagon and use this space to make fun of the Oxford professor who reported the speech, there is an overlying issue here that hasn’t been addressed.

Too often are people with very moderate views branded with extreme labels, purely for having views with which some people disagree. Too often are people labelled racist for very mild things, like for example voting to leave the European Union. When an elected Home Secretary is reported to the police for hate-speech for having suggested that we should give more jobs to British people, then we have a systemic problem.

The main issue is that the more these words are used for everyday things, the more these terms are normalised. Indeed, this is highly advantageous to those people who genuinely do hold racist or xenophobic views, because while they were previously and rightly shunned for abhorrent beliefs and actions, they are being grouped together with people who, for example, voted for Brexit.

Every time terms like racist, Islamophobic, and xenophobic are used, frankly incorrectly, the more we let true racists off the hook, and allow their rise to greater popularity.

So let’s have a reality check. It is not racist to want to control borders, just like almost every other country outside the EU does. It is not Islamophobic to criticise the religion of Islam, just as other religions might endure the same criticism.

Let’s not allow debate to be shut down by having extreme labels being thrown about at whomever puts forward a different point of view, and let’s reserve words like hate-speech and racism, for the people who really deserve it.


Julius is a student studying at Cambridge University. He worked for Zac Goldsmith before heading up to University. Here, he combines his love of politics and German (his degree), with his love of music. Follow him on Twitter: @JuliusHaswell

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