Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper
Chandra Masoliver

Chandra Masoliver

Reaction to O’Shea’s ‘Say no to hate speech’

HOT’s Chandra Masoliver reports on one of the few hostile reactions to Sean O’Shea’s recent article, Say no to hate speech. She insists that those who value free speech will not be silenced by bullying or intimidation from a minority in the Labour Party.

“Hope is the fuel of progress and fear is the prison in which you put yourself.” Tony Benn

Sean O’Shea recently wrote an article in this paper – and in Hastings Independent Press (Friday 17 March) – entitled, ‘Say no to hate speech’, where he said: “Demonising individuals or groups that don’t agree with us should have no place in the new politics or in political discourse.”

He was critical of Momentum’s ‘A World Transformed Festival’ held last year, where ‘We hate Thatcher’ mugs were on sale and phrases like ‘Tories are Vermin who should be eradicated’ were considered acceptable. He went on to remind us of the National Labour Party policy prohibiting such language. Indeed Jeremy Corbyn pledged to stamp out ‘hateful language’ in the Labour Party.

Sean felt strongly enough about this issue to initiate a local ‘Say no to hate speech’ appeal, which I also joined. How ironic that subsequently a large wooden board nailed to a broom handle was placed at the front of his house, with the poster below glued to it.

Hate reaction

Sean made his opinions known in a reasoned, respectful and upfront manner. The reaction he got was an anonymous message placed by his front door, designed to intimidate and silence him.

This does not help Labour get votes – and I deplore it. As Tony Benn once said: “My dad said to me ‘Say what you mean, mean what you say, do it if you have a chance and don’t attack people personally.’ I’ve found that a brilliant guide.”

I also deplore the misogyny expressed in this placard by its reference to Theresa May and Amber Rudd as ‘witches,’ and the depiction of Amber Rudd as a Nazi. We are not living in medieval times when it was common for men to feel they had the right to label, persecute and kill women as witches. Anyone in the local Labour Party who may attempt to return us to those times will not succeed.

Sean and I are both paid-up members of the Labour Party. We don’t understand this to mean that we have to be mindless conformists. To be able to express a different point of view or criticise another person’s opinions without fear of personal attack or intimidation is essential for civilized political debate.

With the blessing of free speech everyone has the right to reply to Sean’s article, including the person who chose to slink up to Sean’s house under the protection of darkness to deposit their threatening message. If they think that this tactic will work however, they have entirely underestimated the character of the man and of the many people who support his point of view.

I think these are matters which the Hasting & Rye Constituency Labour Party should investigate and address. They have a responsibility towards their members, to ensure they are treated with respect and that their personal details are kept private and not used for malicious purposes. Not to address breaches of their own standards would be a serious omission.

I feel fortunate to be able to voice my opinions both in Hastings Online Times and in Hastings Independent – and I hope there will be no more covert intimidating messages sent to Sean O’Shea – or myself, come to that.

Posted 09:51 Thursday, Apr 6, 2017 In: Politics


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  1. Chicothecat

    Sorry if this is abusive, but Bogbrush clearly has race issues (to put it very politely).

    My personal hackles were activated by Sean’s campaign which involved haunting the entrance to meetings and sticking large yellow badges on people. I was disinclined to join this campaign as opposition to “hate speech, bullying and intimidation” was used as one of their bogus devices by the anti-Corbyn coup plotters last summer as the excuse to close down local parties (Brighton and Hove, Wallasey and others) on the flimsiest of evidence.

    There was a choreographed sequence of anti-Corbyn women MPs crying for the TV cameras, with the press primed to rant against Corbyn’s “hard left bullies”. Among the forbidden actions were “sighing and eye-rolling”. Then there was the Wallasey brick (said to have been thrown through a window into Angela Eagle’s constituency office but later shown to have been thrown OUT of another window in the building and photographed for the press). Every single local Labour Party was forbidden from meeting last summer on this basis. So please, Sean, understand the context in which some of us were less than happy to have your badges pinned to us without so much as a by-your-leave.

    Comment by Chicothecat — Friday, Apr 14, 2017 @ 12:13

  2. Tim Barton

    (Please note that by Tories I do not mean everyone suckered into voting for them).

    Sometimes Hate is Healthy, and a failure to rise in anger a problem. How can Labour -oppose- the austerity fascism with a sweet smile and a kind word?

    Though during electioneering reining in our satiric impulses may be wise.

    Comment by Tim Barton — Thursday, Apr 13, 2017 @ 11:21

  3. Tim Barton

    I hate Thatcher and Tories are, in my opinion,. verminous. Sorry Liam, but using economic terorrism to starve and even drive to suicide the poor and the vulnerable is Hate in action. If my Pen is deemed more worth demonising for saying it like it is than their Swords are, you are as serious a problem to Labour as those who perhaps slightly foolishly (as noted in this article, and in the context of the Livingstone fracas) overstate for effect rather thoughtlessly. I’d admit that adding ‘that must be eradicated’ after calling them the vermin that they are is impolitic and -if meant literally- ‘unacceptable’. But if we are not angered by Tory policy we heartless fools, as they are.

    Comment by Tim Barton — Thursday, Apr 13, 2017 @ 11:11

  4. Bea Rogers

    How sad that once again it is the women in politics who are being personally attacked. Does this portrayal of “witches” show the meanness of the people involved and the inadequacy of their politics?

    Comment by Bea Rogers — Thursday, Apr 13, 2017 @ 10:52

  5. Ms. Doubtfire

    Well said Bogbrush.

    Comment by Ms. Doubtfire — Thursday, Apr 13, 2017 @ 08:26

  6. Bogbrush

    Whether anger is legitamate (sic) or not is a subjective opinion about an emotion and not subject to any actual or possible legal or moral sanction. Hence the question reverts to what is or is not ‘hate (sic) speech’ to use the uncouth phrase of our law makers. It is undoubtedly hateful – in the sense of being full of hatred, to describe one’s opponents as vermin who aught to be exterminated. Is it illegal so to do? Probably it is legal if one’s target is the universally despised and hated white British person, but illegal if any other category of person is mentioned. Hence I have to conclude that since the original remarks were aimed at predominantly white British people and the caricatures in the poster are of our current prime minister and a local politician who happen both to be white British people then the original remarks and the poster would not be considered actionable by the CPS. White British people are fair game for anything thrown at them. Everyone else is sacrosanct.

    Comment by Bogbrush — Thursday, Apr 6, 2017 @ 20:54

  7. David Marsh

    Excellent article.I wholeheartedly agree.

    Comment by David Marsh — Thursday, Apr 6, 2017 @ 19:55

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