Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Church leaders, Mr. Bryan & Noam Chomsky

CHURCH leaders in Rochdale last Sunday said that they had to exclude the National Front parliamentary candidate for Rochdale from the political hustings because of fears that the far right party’s presence ‘may increase the likelihood of a breach of the peace’.  In doing this the Vicar of Rochdale defied the core ideas of the enlightenment and Voltaire, not to mention everyday democracy, by not giving the National Front an opportunity to present their views at an open forum in the Rochdale Parish Church. 

In a statement before the event the Vicar of Rochdale, the Rev Mark Coleman said: 
'The Parochial Church Council of St Chad’s and I have decided to not invite the National Front to take part in the hustings event.  We do not endorse any candidate and have decided, on the impartial basis that the presence of the National Front may increase the likelihood of a breach of the peace, to not invite the National Front candidate Mr Kevin Bryan.'

At the event last Sunday, Mr Bryan criticised his exclusion, and he said:
'It’s not a full, democratic election if all eight candidates aren’t there.  I am totally disgusted with it.  I have got a lot of support from people, they might not agree with my politics, but they agree I should be involved with the debate.  There’s eight candidates and they should all be there on the day.' 

Mr. Bryan also claimed that he was a Christian and that it was disgusting for him to be excluded from the House of God.  Shortly after he made this statement the police were called, presumably by the Church authorities, and Mr. Bryan and some of his supporters were escorted from the Parish Church.
Northern Voices' would like to draw Rev. Mark Coleman's attention to the stand on the right to freedom of expression taken by the highly respected academic Noam Chomsky, who happens to be Jewish and who has claimed to be a kind of anarchist, in relation to what became known as the 'Faurisson affair'.  What follows below is taken from Wikipedia:
'The Faurisson affair is a term given to an academic controversy in the wake of a book by French scholar Robert Faurisson, a Holocaust denier. The scandal largely dealt with the inclusion of an essay by American linguist Noam Chomsky, entitled "Some Elementary Comments on the Rights of Freedom of Expression", as an introduction to Faurisson's book, without Chomsky's knowledge or approval. Responding to a request for comment in a climate of attacks on Faurisson, Chomsky defended Faurisson's right to express and publish his opinions on the grounds that freedom of speech must be extended to all viewpoints, no matter how unpopular or fallacious.'

I believe that those of us associated with the Northern Voices' Blog would stand by what Noam Chomsky has had to say on this matter.  It seems to me that it represents the height of English hypocrisy for all of the other 'respected' politicians to sit in the Church last Sunday, and to fail to speak up on behalf of free speech. 


mark hollinrake said...

To be honest, the rest of us were not given the opportunity to express our support for the NF's inclusion.

Zyzzyzus floridanus said...

Yes Mark, it was a bit of a shot-gun affair. But, it placed all of us present in a poor light especially those of us on the liberal/ left who didn't argue that the decision of the Church leaders was hypocritical.

mark hollinrake said...

Yes on reflection you you are probably right. I suppose I looked at it from a dislike of fascist type organisations, having had, and knowing of other trade unionists and socialists having plenty of hassle off them in the 80s, and their attacks on certain members of the community, so not having any real sympathy for them. The other thing that I thought, was that I wanted to respect the organiser's decision and or their organisation of the event, and not really having the bottle to question their motives.

Next time, could well be different, if there is a next time. I would certainly say that there could well be a case for letting them speak and them being under the spotlight, this could well be very beneficial to the rest of us, as they would surely come over as being mostly about the issue of race, and nothing much else.

Best wishes, Mark.

John Wilkins said...


I did speak to Mark about the subject of freedom of expression after the meeting on Monday, and I think you might have also spoken to him, so it is gratifying to know he has taken on board the views expressed in the article and ours. As for the 80's there were extreme elements in the Labour Party, ie. Militant Tendency, and their methods of indoctrination and often aggressive behaviour mirrored the far right movements back then.

mark hollinrake said...

Just want to post a big thank you to anyone who voted for the Greens and all those that supported me.

The fight against the Tories will continue, and without a decent parliamentary opposition aside from a few left wingers in Labour, SNP, Greens and a few others, it will have to be took on by people outside of parliament.

We have to campaign against poverty, the privatisation of the NHS, Blacklisting, hunting with dogs, and many other things, out on the streets and in our communities, including by online campaigns, whatever way people can oppose this government, we must do.

Lets hope our Trade Unions are up for a fight, and start rebelling instead of meekly abiding by what the Tories and the majority of Labour tell them to. The reversal of the Thatcher anti Trade Union laws still has to be an aim.