Campus censorship must not become the norm in Scotland

Last night, a censorious mob gathered at the University of Edinburgh to disrupt the screening of a documentary about women’s sex-based rights. After occupying a lecture theatre and preventing those who had booked the venue from moving the screening elsewhere, they succeeded in their aim. The screening was called off. Attendees were forced to goContinue reading “Campus censorship must not become the norm in Scotland”

There’s worse to come in Scotland than the Hate Crime Bill

The Scottish Government has courted controversy with its social policy agenda: sweeping hate crime legislation, and gender recognition changes that undermine women’s rights. But what’s coming down the tracks at Holyrood looks even more troubling. In fact, the next item on the agenda could be one of the most controversial seen since devolution. Following activists’ demands, politicians’ promisesContinue reading “There’s worse to come in Scotland than the Hate Crime Bill”

Republicans need free speech too

Police action against anti-monarchist protesters has come under the spotlight this week. On Sunday, a young woman was arrested in Edinburgh after holding up a sign with a swear word on it stating, “abolish monarchy”. She has now been charged with an offence and faces a hefty fine or even imprisonment. Her arrest followed an incident involvingContinue reading “Republicans need free speech too”

Universities must reckon with free speech crisis – P&J

A new study suggests more undergraduate students than ever before support strong restrictions on free speech. The Higher Education Policy Institute asked 1,000 students at UK universities about free speech issues, and compared the results with an identical survey in 2016. Most respondents believed one or more political groups should be banned from speaking at universities. NotContinue reading “Universities must reckon with free speech crisis – P&J”

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”