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Proposed BNP teaching ban condemned

edballsjpgThe proposal, now being considered by the Government, to ban BNP members from the classroom been attacked by various liberal/libertarian groups.

Ed Balls announced at the Labour Party conference an investigation into “racism in schools” and whether members of the British National Party (BNP) should be banned from teaching. Although supported by Conference delegates (of a rival party) including Trade Unionists he has been criticised by a member of the Parliamentary Human Rights select committee and by the Solidarity Trade Union.

Lib Dem MP Evan Harris and Committee member in a letter to the Times newspaper wrote:- “It is obviously illiberal to declare that legal membership of a legal political party will be a bar to earning a living as a teacher, especially as what should be actually banned is behaviour — not thoughts, or unexpressed views.”[1].

Patrick Harrington General Secretary of Solidarity Trade Union said “Mr Harris hit the nail on the head when he writes of judging people by their behaviour. Even if the BNP policies were unacceptable within the teaching framework of our schools there is no reason to assume one of their members is any less professional then any of his colleagues or force their views upon pupils. In this country we traditionally act against peoples actions not their views (perceived or otherwise). There are many existing safeguards to ensure teaching standards. Any further restrictions would not be proportionate to the aims pursued.

This proposed action by Ed Balls is a McCarthy style attempt to punish members of a rival Party because of the loss of votes from one to the other. If implemented by this rotten NuLab government it would likely be overturned at a later date as contravenes Article 11 of the ECHR which guarantees Freedom of Association”.

Kevin Scott of the campaign group Civil Liberty also referenced Article 11 of the ECHR, protecting freedom of association.

He said:-

“Under the ECHR freedom of association can be restricted only (i) in the interests of national security or public safety, (ii) for the prevention of disorder or crime, (iii) for the protection of health or morals, or (iv) for the protection of the rights or freedoms of others. Any restrictions must be “prescribed by law, ” and they must be “necessary in a democracy” to achieve one of the four listed objectives. In two cases (the Sidiropoulos [3] and Communist Party [4] cases), the Court emphasised that exceptions must be “construed strictly,” that only “clear and compelling” reasons can justify restrictions, that any restrictions must be “proportional to the legitimate end pursued,” and that there must be “relevant and sufficient” evidence and “decisions based on an acceptable assessment of the relevant facts” before a restriction can be justified.
I believe that the proposed ban will fail these tests. We will work with our comrades in Solidarity to challenge all such restrictions on freedom of association. We will crash their anti-freedom bandwagon.”

[1] Letter to the Times, October 5, 2009.


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