With thanks to Suzanne Kelly.
Suzanne Kelly launched the petition requesting that Donald Trump be banned from the UK for his hate speech, as so many others have before. An unprecedented number of signatures – 570,000 – triggered the Westminster debate.
The debate took place on Monday 18 January, which also happened to be Martin Luther King Day.
Suzanne said afterwards:
“It was a pleasure to see so many of the speakers condemn Mr. Trump and his hate speech. Some of those who spoke helpfully referred to the cases in the United States where people have committed violent acts or intended to, where Donald Trump’s speech had been the clear source of inspiration.”
“Teresa May still has it in her power to put the ban on Donald Trump; The Public Order Act 1986 has been used to ban over 80 people so far, and to me Mr. Trump’s words put him squarely in that category in my opinion, and in the opinions of some of the MPs.”
“It was surprising and disappointing to see that MP Paul Flynn, tasked with introducing the debate, decided to go to the media in advance of the debate and announce he was against the ban. I found that unethical, even though Flynn and the Petitions Committee apparently have no issue with it. I believe this sent a message to his party members and others to follow suit.
“Moreover, if the member of the Petitions Committee charged with introducing my petition and my points did not support them, how robust a job could he be expected to do? Initially Flynn told me not to contact him when I wrote to him with the details of the arguments in favour of the ban. He did not believe he should communicate with me because of his role on the committee. The Petitions Committee disagreed with him.
“What I found improper was his comments against any ban coming less than 24 hours before the debate. He hadn’t done me the basic courtesy of letting me know he was speaking out about the petition in advance. Therefore I lost an opportunity to counter him. Flynn’s amazingly idealistic concept of convincing Trump that multiculturalism works by taking Trump out to meet people is ridiculous.
“If Flynn has that little handle on Trump’s make-up, then he was not the person to lead the discussions. While he made some of my points, I hardly thought his presentation looked or sounded robust. Perhaps the Petitions Committee might reconsider how a petition is introduced in future.
“Flynn’s position was also that to ban Trump might potentially advantage him / make him seem a ‘martyr’ to some of his followers. I would have thought upholding British law would have come first to an MP. However it seems that second-guessing any potential outcomes of applying the law of the land overrides any duty to uphold the law for some.
“Thankfully some speakers were aware of the difference between hate speech and free speech. There were excellent points made by those who supported the petition. Others chose, somewhat disingenuously I thought, to decide that the requested ban on Trump was somehow an assault on Freedom of Speech. I wonder where those impassioned speakers were when it came to the 80+ people the UK has previously banned, and if they will now seek to overturn the historic bans against hate preachers.
“Some MPs seemed to fear that banning Trump was an attack on the US / that we should not meddle in US politics. How they came to the conclusion that this matter of UK law was less important than taking a stand against hate speech would be interesting to hear.
“However, virtually everyone who spoke had the harshest of words for Trump. ‘Buffoon’ seemed the word of the hour. It was good to see that there is a widespread condemnation of Trump’s policies.
“Sarah Malone-Bates, Trump’s spokesperson issued a statement which was to me feeble as well as hypocritical. She bemoaned the cost of this exercise to taxpayers, saying we were wasting valuable Parliamentary time. Perhaps it’s a case of amnesia or ignorance, but with her employer dragging the Scottish taxpayer through every court in the land in his selfish desire to scupper an important offshore wind farm project, I think Malone-Bates would find that Trump has cost far more money and time than the debate did.
I think the desire of 570,000 people to have the debate is just a bit more important than Trump costing Aberdeenshire money, time, clean energy and work in the clean energy sector. She’s claimed that ‘hundreds of millions of pounds’ are being ‘pumped’ by Trump into the Scottish economy.
“I’ve asked for sight of the proof of this wild claim; it’s not forthcoming, nor is a response to my request to have a live debate with her on the issues, which still stands.”
“I would like to thank the Petitions Committee administrators, who were very helpful throughout. Thanks too to the media for their interest and support. Thanks to Aberdeen Voice especially Fred Wilkinson, editor, and Julie Thompson who has worked on a number of stories with me. Gratitude goes to the MPs who understood the law and the purpose of the petition and who spoke eloquently; gratitude to those MPs opposed who nevertheless in some cases made useful comments.
“Finally, thanks very much to the people who took the time to sign this petition.
“Sometimes the system works. I see this petition and the debate as huge victories. Trump has lost his Global Scot status, his business is apparently no longer wanted in much of the Middle East; his honorary degree from Robert Gordon University was withdrawn, and Trump branded goods are being axed from shops. If this is a defeat for me, I’ll live with it.”
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