A number of Tory MPs have suddenly turned on a forthcoming online speech control bill, as the party prepares to elect a new Prime Minister.
Update: According to a report by The Telegraph, the Online Safety Bill has now been delayed, with a vote on the legislation now not due for another three months, after which a new Prime Minister should already be in office. Badenoch has praised the delay, saying that the proposal is in “no fit state to become law”, while also implying that she would not see the legislation scrapped entirely if she were to be picked as the new Conservative Party leader.
“If I’m elected Prime Minister I will ensure the bill doesn’t overreach,” she said. “We should not be legislating for hurt feelings.”
This would be the right move. The bill is in no fit state to become law.
If I’m elected Prime Minister I will ensure the bill doesn’t overreach. We should not be legislating for hurt feelings. https://t.co/zN0MLhZ0LP
— Kemi Badenoch (@KemiBadenoch) July 13, 2022
Read the original story below:
As Britain’s Conservative Party prepares to elect a new leader and — by extension — the next Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, a number of Tory MPs have decided to suddenly turn on a bill which aims to dramatically curb freedom of speech online.
Titled the “Online Safety Bill”, the legislation has been championed by UK Ministers Nadine Dorries and Priti Patel, both of whom appear to believe that banning “legal but harmful” expression online is needed in order to keep children safe.
However, despite the rest of the party having been relatively quiet for some period of time on the matter, a number of MPs have picked now as a good time to speak up about the legislation that has previously been compared to something that would be passed by Communist China.
“The authoritarian and arbitrary distinction of ‘legal but harmful’ speech is an attack on freedom and is as unConservative as it is unBritish,” backbench Tory MP and former minister David Davis wrote in a comment piece for The Telegraph.
Davis went on to reference an occasion where a speech he had made in the British Parliament on COVID vaccine passports was censored by social media platform Youtube, which he argued revealed the general attitude of big tech towards free speech.
“The current trajectory of the Bill threatens to compound the situation by bringing the state in as the enforcer of online censorship. It grants an enormous amount of executive power to the state in an entirely undemocratic way,” the MP went on to say. “The cut and thrust of a leadership contest will allow us to debate these issues and at least one of the leadership candidates has identified the Bill as being in need of reform.”
UK Demands Elon Musk Keeps Twitter ‘Responsible’ by Censoring Contenthttps://t.co/rqyPvERigM
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) April 26, 2022
Davis’ call to reconsider the legislation echoes those made by leadership candidate, Kemi Badenoch, who was denounced for “enabling white supremacy” by the far left after she said that the UK should not be legislating against causing offence.
“Rather than legislate for hurt feelings as we risk doing with the Online Safety Bill, we must strengthen our democratic culture at a time when democratic values are under assault from without and within,” the outsider candidate remarked.
While earning the ire of the far left, Badenoch’s platform appears to have earned her the support of fellow Online Safety Bill opponent Nick Fletcher MP, who announced on Wednesday that he would be voting for her in the first round to become the next Conservative Party leader.
I’ve been listening to the candidates and to my constituents. I’ve come to a decision. I’m voting for @KemiBadenoch. She has the strength of character for leadership and a clear vision for the country. She’s the one for me. pic.twitter.com/2JQFdPJcRU
— Nick Fletcher MP (@NickFletcherMP) July 13, 2022
“She has the strength of character for leadership and a clear vision for the country,” the MP wrote on social media, saying that he had been listening to his constituents regarding the decision.
Despite all of this resistance to the bill, Home Secretary Priti Patel appears to still be standing behind it, writing in an op-ed last week that the Online Safety Bill would make the UK “the safest place to be online”.
“The bill has been designed to protect both the safety of users as well as their right to privacy and freedom of expression,” she wrote, but added that the UK “must do more to combat these foul, hugely destructive crimes.”
Meanwhile, since Badenoch’s comments on the Online Safety Bill were published, Dorries has bit back, asking the former Equalities Minister on social media exactly what part of the bill she is talking about.
This does not seem to have gone all that well for Dorries however, with the minister getting embroiled in at least one argument with an unverified account about the value of certain elements of the bill.
Which part of the bill legislates for hurt feelings, Kemi? https://t.co/GQtzi4OuXd
— Nadine Dorries (@NadineDorries) July 13, 2022
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