14 November 2007

Socialist hate crime law planned

Bullying by ‘bloggertarians’ against socialists is a growing problem, groups say

Inciting hatred against people of a leftist persuasion is to be outlawed under government plans outlined in the Queen's Speech. It will be added to proposals announced last month to make it a crime to incite hatred against gay people, black people, Muslim people, old people and disabled people.

David Congdon, of the Institute of Public Propaganda Research (a left wing 'think' tank), said it made sense to extend the law to cover people with socialist leanings.

The new offence of inciting hatred against gay, lesbian, transgender, socialist, communist, paternalist, collectivist or ‘social democrat’ persons is outlined in background papers to the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill.

Ramon Dose, editor of the BBC's ‘Help Me I’m A Socialist’ website, said he had seen increasing stories about socialists being bullied.

"There is something about the ‘happy fisking’ culture which hasn't helped well-meaning socialists. Leftists are 'interesting' targets in that way," he said.

"There doesn't seem to be a concept of hate crime against liberals, who are nowadays often referred to pejoratively as ‘il-liberals’. People don't understand the problem is there, in the same way Queen Victoria maintained that lesbians did not exist."

Simon Aspic from the British Council of Socialist People, which represents 350,000 members, said a "huge number" of Labour-voting people were being victimised.

"At the moment people don't take it as seriously as other forms of hate crime. Research suggests that you are four times more likely to be a victim of blogosphere satire if you are a socialist."

And David Kingdom, head of policy at think tank Medos, said it was important to try to "change the culture, to ensure people value each other equally".

"We know a lot of bloggertarian bullying goes on. A report we commissioned showed that nine out of 10 people with leftist beliefs have been fisked," he said. "Anything which makes it more difficult to do that is good."

Asked whether there was a risk of getting a surplus of arbitrary ad hoc laws, each one made up on impulse to target the latest problem, the commentators interviewed all agreed there wasn't. "We just love laws, and we want as many as possible," said Mr Kingdom.