Twenty Minute Topic Episode 48: Free Speech

Antisemitism: Labour and Beyond Talk Podcasts

THE RECENT report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) into antisemitism in the Labour Party delivered a damning verdict on Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. In this special podcast, Marcus Stead talks to Graham Perry, a Labour supporter and an antisemitism awareness trainer about the findings of the EHRC’s report and the events that followed it, including Jeremy Corbyn’s statement which led to him having the Labour whip withdrawn. The EHRC found Labour breached the Equality Act in two cases when its agents were engaged in “committing unlawful harassment”, including using “antisemitic tropes and suggesting that complaints of antisemitism were fake or smears”. The first referred to former Ken Livingstone, the former Mayor of London, and the second concerned Pam Bromley, a Labour councillor in Rossendale, Lancashire. A further “18 more borderline harassment cases” were identified in the sample of 70 studied by the EHRC, and the watchdog also indicated relations with Labour were not always smooth during the investigation. The discussion then turns to the wider problem of antisemitism in British politics and in wider society. Plaid Cymru was co-founded by playwright Saunders Lewis, whose work and letters contain many examples of antisemitism. Lewis is still widely revered by the Welsh nationalist community, and the party was recently engulfed in controversy after activist Sahar Al-Faifi, who has a long track record of antisemitism, was readmitted to the party and will stand as a candidate in next year’s elections to the Welsh Parliament. Beyond politics, how prevalent is antisemitism in wider society? Marcus and Graham discuss the issue of antisemitism in institutions such as golf clubs. In this age where roads and concert venues named after slave traders are being renamed, is it right that prominent antisemites such as Roald Dahl are honoured with public monuments bearing their name? Roald Dahl Plass is less than a minute’s walk from the Welsh Parliament building. What is the difference between blatant antisemitism and subconscious antisemitism? And is antisemitism all too often regarded as ‘the lesser racism’? Graham Perry graduated from Churchill College Cambridge with degrees in History and Economics in 1968. He qualified as a Solicitor and became a Partner in Clinton-Davis & Co in Hackney, East London and focused on representing clients in the Magistrates Courts of North-East London. He made a career switch in 1979 when he joined the family firm, London Export Corporation, set up in 1953 by Jack Perry to focus on Trade with China. Graham made his final career change when he became an independent commercial arbitrator resolving disputes between companies involved in the trans-national shipment of food, feeding stuffs and oils – which work he continues to undertake. Graham was a Justice of the Peace from 1986 to 2002 and an Immigration Judge from 2002 to 2015. He has made 100+ visits to China on business, with political groups and most recently with former Lord Chief Justice Woolf whom Graham arranged to give Lectures in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on the Rule of Law. Graham writes and lectures on two main topics – China and Anti-Semitism and honed his presentational skills with LBC radio, where he was a regular overnight cover presenter in the 1990s, before focusing exclusively on his arbitration work. The podcast is available on the Talk Podcasts website, iTunes, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, SoundCloud, Spotify and the TuneIn app.
Marcus Stead
Marcus Stead
Greg Lance-Watkins
Greg Lance-Watkins

WE’RE ALL familiar with the quote from Evelyn Beatrice Hall’s biography of Voltaire, which says: “I don’t agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

Freedom of speech is under attack in Britain and across the Western world, with the rise of ‘safe zones’ in universities, and the ‘woke’ movement. With every year that passes, the limitations on what it’s permissible to say become narrower and narrower. Saying the wrong thing in the wrong place won’t land you in prison, (not yet, anyway,) but it can certainly have a detrimental effect on your career.

In this podcast, Marcus Stead and Greg Lance-Watkins ask: What are the limitations on free speech? What constitutes ‘hate speech’? And who or what is behind the agenda to put ever-increasing limitations on what we can say?

The podcast is available via the Talk Podcasts website, iTunes, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, SoundCloud, Spotify and the TuneIn app.

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