Gareth Bennett And Freedom Of Speech: It’s Time For Action!


Alan Craig is UKIP Havering Branch secretary and a founder member of the Support4theFamily group of UKIP members.

When UKIP’s National Executive Committee meets on 8th January there is one issue that should be top of the agenda: the shameful decision by the Presiding Officer of the Welsh Assembly, Elin Jones, to ban Gareth Bennett from speaking during Senedd debates in 2018.

Gareth is UKIP’s Assembly Member for South Wales Central.

During an Assembly debate about an Equalities and Human Rights report, Gareth made an excellent call for a grown-up conversation about minority rights and made the unarguable point that the increasing focus on the rights of minorities must ultimately impact negatively on the rights of the majority population.

By way of illustration, he referred to the Westminster Tory government’s proposed amendments to the Gender Recognition Act which liberalise the process of changing gender, and he made these observations (here at 17.35 hours):

“There is only so much deviation from the norm that any society can take before that society completely implodes, and if we carry on down this road of appeasing the nuttiest elements of the transgender movement, then what we will face as a society, within a very short space of time, is total implosion.”

You’d have thought these remarks were merely common sense: Gareth was rightly cautioning against too much accommodation to the demands of transgender extremists or, he predicted, society will suffer.

But for the biased and hostile Presiding Officer, Plaid Cymru’s Elin Jones, political correctness trumps common sense. The following day, and at the prompting of a muddled Labour AM who accused Gareth of “homophobic rhetoric” even though he hadn’t mentioned gays or lesbians let alone been hostile to them, Ms Jones demanded that Gareth withdraw his comments. She claimed his views were “particularly hateful to the transgender community” and insisted that he apologise.

When he refused, she informed him he was barred from speaking in Senedd debates in 2018. He walked out of the chamber.

Although by all accounts Gareth remains personally relaxed and upbeat, his ban is a serious issue and an ominous threat to democracy and free speech.

Journalist Arwyn Jones pointed out on BBC Wales Live that banning an elected representative from speaking indefinitely in Senedd until they apologise is completely unprecedented.

Also, Welsh commentator and academic Carys Moseley wrote that Senedd is “the first legislature in the world to ban a politician for criticising transgender activism”.

She continued:

“The Presiding Officer’s overreaction was subjective, disproportionate and all too typical of those who enforce the concept of hate speech.

“Her role is equivalent to that of the Speaker of the House of Commons, and as such banning a politician from debate sets a dangerous trend, and undermines free speech and democracy.

“It is also a snub to everyone else in Wales who has serious reservations about the direction that transgender policy has been taking in the UK. It is saying you cannot be a politician if you think transgenderism is abnormal, which probably rules out most of the population.

“This is a sinister state of affairs that is unprecedented and completely unacceptable.”

Sinister and unacceptable indeed, so what is to be done? First, all Kippers must support and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Gareth.

But the matter is bigger than him and the implications are much wider than for just the Welsh Assembly.

So, second, Kippers must urge the NEC to take up the cause. The NEC should commit the party to supporting Gareth, confronting and challenging the Presiding Officer, and using all means possible in the UK to defeat this attack on freedom of speech. If you are a paid-up member of the party, you can contact the general secretary Paul Oakley at paul.oakley@ukip.org and request that the issue is put on the NEC agenda and discussed at their meeting on 8th January. For information copy in the chairman Paul Oakden too, at chairman@ukip.org.

And, third, Kippers and other concerned individuals can write a polite but firm email to the Presiding Officer herself, reminding her that in the UK we live in a democracy which embraces freedom of speech, and proposing that she revokes her ban on Gareth with immediate effect. Ms Jones’ email address is: elin.jones@assembly.wales or llywydd@assembly.wales. If you email her, I suggest you copy in Gareth for his encouragement: gareth.bennett@assembly.wales

A key issue of principle is at stake. We cannot simply sit on our hands.

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6 Responses

  1. MIKE MAUNDER says:

    We are all with Gareth Bennett on this, and let him see the support that he has.
    Check on the system used by the Speaker of the House of Commons. I think he has the right, and uses that right, to order a member out of the Commons, for incorrect actions and bad language etc. That is used for the sitting, but never with permanence ! Stopping a member from representing his Party and his constituency has to be illegal. I’m not sure of the Law on this, as it has not been raised before, but it should, after due checking, be taken to Court. If it is as I think it is, then Elin Jones should 1. Be made to apologise. 2. Be fined for undemocratic action, and 3. Be dismissed from her post as Presiding Officer.
    I think the Law would be The Representation of the Peoples Act ! – but I am not sure of this.

  2. A Voter says:

    This was a good sensible speech, can you provide a link to the video so others can judge for themselves.

  3. VanDamme says:

    Why is it that this is the only website to:
    a. Report on this, it has been on you tube since mid december (well done though on bringing it to our attention*),
    b. UKIP main website has nothing,
    c. UKIP has not been banging on the doors of every MSM there is, here in the UK or abroad (Fox and RT spring to mind!),
    d. as above but on the web, including this site and UKIPdaily?
    e. HB has not said anything despite a poor and error ridden xmas message?

    *How come it is late as this given the seriousness of the implications.
    Nor has UKIP exploited yourselves and others by releasing a press statement in backing, where is N. Hamilton in all of this ‘bell ringing’?

  4. VanDamme says:

    Dear A voter please see here:

  5. VanDamme says:

    I should add, I have known about this just through my you tube feed for several weeks!

    Despite being encouraged by my local branch to cause a ruckas with stories such as these. I withheld; it was a test as to how the “new” UKIP machinery that have the “finger on the pulse”, under the new leadership that is injecting professionalism and bringing in intrumental changes.
    How did this new party react to such an imposition upon the freedom of speech?
    (The massive implication is in the video. i.e. that the Welsh assembly can not even discuss a motion proposed by the Westminster “arm” of politics.)
    What do I find, nothing, silence, only this article is a facsmile of what happened.

    I may be wrong, perhaps it was a fake video!

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