Defending free speech

I’ve taken up a position on the Scottish Advisory Council of the Free Speech Union (FSU). Others joining the Council include Jim Sillars, Peter Kearney, Joanna Cherry QC MP, Jenny Lindsay, Murdo Fraser MSP, Neil Thin, and Iain Macwhirter. The FSU is a non-partisan, mass membership organisation that provides legal support to people whose speechContinue reading “Defending free speech”

Give thanks for the freedoms we do have this Christmas

Freedom. There’s a word that’s been used a lot this year, and one that continues to weigh heavily on our minds. The pandemic has seen curbs on our ability to go about our lives as we normally would. We’ve seen limits on the number of people we can meet, the places we can go, theContinue reading “Give thanks for the freedoms we do have this Christmas”

Police Scotland should rethink non-crime ‘Hate Incident’ rules

This week, England’s Court of Appeal ruled that police guidance on the recording of “non-crime hate incidents” unlawfully interferes with free expression. In light of this, it’s worth looking at the situation in Scotland. Police Scotland also records such incidents. “Hate Incidents” are defined as any “non-crime” incident that is “perceived by the victim orContinue reading “Police Scotland should rethink non-crime ‘Hate Incident’ rules”

Tory online safety plans risk same mistakes as SNP Hate Crime Bill

As the SNP’s Hate Crime Bill crashed through Holyrood last year, its loudest critics were the Scottish Tories. To their credit, conservative MSPs were the only politicians to oppose censorious ‘stirring up hatred’ offences at every turn. They listened to the warnings of lawyers, academics, journalists, and campaigners about the potential these vague provisions had to undermine free expression.Continue reading “Tory online safety plans risk same mistakes as SNP Hate Crime Bill”

SNP-Green deal jeopardizes freedoms

On Friday, a power-sharing agreement between the SNP and the Scottish Green Party was announced. For the first time in UK history, Green party politicians will be ushered into government, with Scottish Green co-leaders Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater handed cabinet positions. On paper, the ‘informal’ coalition is a means of achieving an official, pro-independence majority atContinue reading “SNP-Green deal jeopardizes freedoms”

The crisis of free speech in Scottish universities – Sp!ked

As a rule of thumb, the Scottish government pursues different priorities to the Tories at Westminster. Scotland’s ruling party, the SNP, is at pains to highlight differences and divisions – to prove that Westminster is at odds with Scotland and callous to her needs. But exceptionalism for exceptionalism’s sake does not benefit the Scottish people.Continue reading “The crisis of free speech in Scottish universities – Sp!ked”

The illiberal attack on Douglas Ross over gay marriage – The Spectator

Same-sex marriage could not be described as a central issue in the Holyrood election, having been legal in Scotland since 2014. However, some are keen to make it one. Earlier this week, the Daily Record published a bizarre story attacking Tory leader Douglas Ross for a seven-year-old comment about marriage.  In an ‘exclusive’ exposé theContinue reading “The illiberal attack on Douglas Ross over gay marriage – The Spectator”

Where are Scotland’s free-speech defenders? Sp!ked

In Scotland, the run-up to this year’s election has been dominated by the constitution, coronavirus and climate change. The debates of Holyrood in recent months have simply rolled on into the headquarters of BBC Scotland and STV, to be pitched from studio podiums rather than the benches of the Scottish parliament. The real surprise in Scottish election coverage thusContinue reading “Where are Scotland’s free-speech defenders? Sp!ked”

How the Hate Crime Bill defies Scottish tradition – The Critic

Scottish politicians voted through illiberal legislation on 11 March that will deal a hammer blow to freedom of expression. A majority of MSPs backed the Scottish Government’s controversial Hate Crime and Public Order Bill which will create broad new offences on the “stirring up of hatred”. Cabinet Secretary for Justice Humza Yousaf hailed the bill’sContinue reading “How the Hate Crime Bill defies Scottish tradition – The Critic”

Will the SNP finally see sense on its flawed Hate Crime Bill? The Spectator

The saga of the SNP’s Hate Crime Bill is drawing to a conclusion. This week, Holyrood will cast a decisive vote on the embattled bill. Introduced just ten months ago, it seeks to consolidate existing hate crime laws and create new offences on the ‘stirring up of hatred’ against certain groups. These proposals would make ‘threateningContinue reading “Will the SNP finally see sense on its flawed Hate Crime Bill? The Spectator”