“We sedulously cultivate free speech in this country, even in its most repressive form.” These were the words of that one-time friend of Stalin and revered politician, the late Winston Churchill. The notion behind these pious words is that free speech is worth promoting because it enables people with conflicting ideas to present their arguments so that action can be based on policies which have been thoroughly argued out on a public forum. Indeed we were told that between 1939 and 1945 the deaths of 300,000 members of the British working class, and the destruction in air raids were all suffered in the cause of protecting the Great Freedoms which exist in Britain.
Strangely, the not-so-famous namesake of the man who was in favour of “showering them with mustard gas” during the last world war does not seem to share his late grandpa’s piety. The Manchester Group of the Socialist Party of Great Britain recently invited the present Winston Churchill, who is MP for Stretford, to participate in a public debate on the question “Would socialism be a change for the worse?” In a reply we were informed that Churchill had “no wish to share a public platform with a member of the Socialist Party”. What’s the point, you might wonder, of advocating democracy if you are against the idea of entering into political debate against your opponents? As Churchill’s idea of democracy includes support for a minority of wealth owners to live comfortably and securely off the backs of the majority of wealth producers, his political beliefs were already not unblemished with contradictions.