Last Saturday (27th October) in Northern Ireland, the townspeople of Ballymena gathered in numbers to protest at the continuing failure of politicians and local authorities to address legitimate concerns to do with the recent unprecedented influx of Roma immigrants into the community.
Lack of public consultation over this issue has raised anger among residents, who have seen neighbourhoods transformed without warning and great pressure placed on public services. Many are also critical of police, who they say have ignored complaints of anti-social behaviour.
Just days before the rally, police arrested Britain First leader Paul Golding over publication of a leaflet highlighting residents' concerns. It seems that here in Big Brother Britain, any criticism of mass immigration and its often devastating impacts can get you into trouble with the law.
A few hours before the rally, a group of us leafleting the town centre attracted the attention of local constabulary, whose first action was to take a leaflet and scrutinise it for wordcrime.
I've witnessed this many times now, but each time it chills me to the bone as I recall George Orwell's menacing Thought Police.
Officers on the street are, of course, acting on orders; our contempt is reserved for those much higher up who oversee the present assault on free speech - surely the most precious legacy of our forebears.
We must remember always (against the incessant background hum of state propaganda) that we are freeborn Britons, that freedom of speech is our birthright, and we must never surrender it.
Britain's speech laws are repressive, but they're also so imprecise and open to interpretation that people no longer know what they can and cannot say. This violates the requirement of legal certainty - the ability of citizens to make reliable judgments of what is and isn't legal - and is one reason we're critical of the growing raft of 'hate speech' laws and want them abolished.
Britain First's Andy Edge raised the theme of free speech as he opened the rally and introduced Paul Golding's pre-recorded address (he was forbidden to attend) urging the people of Ballymena to continue standing up to injustice. Paul's clear and impassioned words earned rousing cheers from the crowd.
Next up was Aaron, a local man and Britain First activist, who was critical of police failures to tackle complaints about criminality and anti-social behaviour. He criticised them too for not attending the residents' meeting earlier in the month, which would have been a good opportunity for them to respond to the community.
In a short speech, George Whale of Britain First argued that an important principle was at stake, namely 'the principle of not allowing politicians to use local communities as dumping grounds for problems they've created'. He argued that mass immigration and its consequences are the creation - and therefore the responsibility - of politicians, not of the British majority who've consistently opposed uncontrolled mass immigration.
Following this, Andy invited onto the stage someone from the crowd who had asked, "What do we do next?" The gentleman eloquently answered his own question by arguing for well-directed, peaceful mass protests to impel the authorities to listen to and act on residents' concerns.
Britain First's presence in Ballymena on Saturday was intended to bring constructive pressure on political representatives, the council, social agencies and police to sit down in good faith with local people (to whom they're accountable) to resolve the present impasse.
The rally drew national and international media attention, and that's important, because the powers-that-be are more likely to shed their arrogance and start listening when they know the world is watching.
On a lighter note, if the authorities persist in physically preventing Britain First leaders and activists from protesting, maybe we should consider investing in hologram technology - like these Spanish protesters, banned from demonstrating in front of government buildings:
What do you think?
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