Great Britain

Woke radicals believe in free speech… but only if they agree

WRITER and education pioneer Toby Young this week set up a Free Speech Union because, astonishingly, in 2020 free speech is under threat.

Its aim, Toby says, is to “defeat the authoritarianism and intolerance that is once again threatening to destroy our liberty”.

Put simply, this new union — which anyone can join — will help defend people who are being attacked, vilified, no-platformed, harassed at work or hounded out of their jobs, petitioned against or subjected to Twitter mob “pile-ons” just for exercising their legal right to free speech.

These days that is a lot of people. The mob’s targets know no bounds.  This “woke elite” have made it impossible to have civilised conversation and debate.

Take the feminist Germaine Greer, a woman who has fought tirelessly for some 50 years for women’s liberation. She is now considered by some to be too frightful to listen to and there have been calls to no-platform her — ban her from speaking at events, usually universities.

Even companies such as Yorkshire Tea are getting stick.  The firm was bombarded with complaints at the weekend, with people expressing outrage because the new Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, posted a photo of himself on social media making a cup of tea with the brand.


Sunak’s crime is being a Conservative. Yorkshire Tea’s crime was to allow the Conservative Chancel-or to drink its tea. This bizarre, unreasonable, (im)moral crusading of what I see as the “woke elite” is part of the explanation for the Conservative landslide in the last election.

In my view, the Labour Party lost 94 seats, the second largest number it has ever lost in a single election, because ordinary people look at the Left and think they have all gone mad.

This isn’t true, of course. It is a great shame for sensible, left-leaning people in Britain that the woke are giving them all such a bad name.

Those on the Left must cringe with horror every time there is a Twitter pile-on when someone does some- thing that “offends”.

The woke march around as if they are police, bullying everyone into thinking and speaking in a way that they deem to be acceptable.

If you don’t agree, they will write to your employer and get you fired, or they will bombard you with abuse until you give in and beg for forgiveness.

I should know — it has happened to me more than once. If I tweet something that offends the woke elite, they write to my governing body, Ofsted, demanding my resignation.

Luckily, on Twitter one can block these self-righteous radicals, giving oneself some peace. But there was a time when our school received so many savage and bloodthirsty emails that one of my office staff had a breakdown from having to read them all.

We have even received death threats. Why? Because the woke elite don’t like how we run our school. As a headmistress, I believe it is important to teach children to hear all sides of any debate and encourage them to form their own, independent views.

But if one side is constantly shutting down debate with bullying tactics, no-platforming and drowning people out, then how are our children ever to hear both sides?

When we were first opening our free school, social justice warriors determined to stop us would infiltrate our parent evenings and stand up as I was talking, shouting over me so the parents couldn’t hear what I was trying to say.


Why did they do this? Because in 2010 I gave a speech at the Conservative Party conference. I am not a Conservative but that didn’t bother my detractors. As with Yorkshire Tea, simple association with the Conservative Party means you must be evil.

The woke cannot imagine that the Conservatives want a better world, just as they do. They simply disagree on how to get there.

So frequent and angry have the calls for someone’s dismissal or “cancellation” become that those who would have once argued the case, the “anti-woke”, are just rolling over. It’s not worth the hassle, they say with a sigh.

The “anti-woke” weren’t always this way. They are ordinary people who have simply become fed up of being browbeaten by these pseudo-moral liberators.

If the woke have something truly interesting to say, then why don’t they make their arguments, stand up on a stage and explain why their beliefs are worthy?

At least that would have the effect of persuading people, rather than alienating them.  But the woke don’t care about being virtuous. They want only to signal it.

In 2020, too many people live in fear of what they can and cannot say. We are meant to be living in a free country.

Let’s hope one day it can feel as if we do and we will no longer need a Free Speech Union.

Prince Andrew says he was at Pizza Express in Woking on night he allegedly had sex with Epstein ‘sex slave’ during BBC Newsnight interview