The arrest of Paul Weston, an anti-immigration campaigner in England, for repeating Winston Churchill’s unflattering observations about Islam in a public speech has been reported around the world with headlines from the US to Russia to Japan. Weston, who leads a small party called LibertyGB, was bundled into a police van outside the Guildhall in the town of Winchester, after being arrested for suspected racial harassment.
It is a shocking event because to many people overseas, Britain is still a country where there is freedom of speech. But the Weston arrest is only the latest in a series of incidents that show that the British state’s gloves are coming off and police are coming down hard on anti-immigration campaigners — and they are not being too scrupulous about how they go about it, as the shocking arrests in of Clive Jefferson and Dawn Charlton in Cumbria last summer showed.
The two British National Party activists were both standing for local council elections in the town of Maryport and looked like giving the local Labour Party a run for their money, as both had been elected before and were popular figures. But Labour were playing dirty and when the BNP pair discovered evidence of vote tampering in Allerdale Council they filed a 22-page dossier to the police.
Unbeknownst to them, the Labour Party was allowed to respond to the complaints with allegations of their own. Labour claimed that a BNP leaflet amounted to racial harassment. Clive and Dawn were totally unprepared for what happened next — their homes were raided by two squads of ten police officers each, with dogs and weapons and with officers from the drugs squad in several police vans in a clearly well co-ordinated action. The raids had been part of an action called “Operation Motive” and had been ordered by the Chief Constable after consulting with the Labour Party leadership in the area.