Government double speak and double standards have been laid bare as the home office caved in to pseudo liberal pressure and banned a Dutch MP who has voiced his opposition to an “Islamic invasion”. His far right views are distasteful to some but the ban reveals a sinister trend to suppress a once cherished freedom of speech.
Geert Wilders, leader of the Dutch right-wing Freedom Party had been invited to show a film called 'Fitna' at the House of Lords. That was until home secretary, Jacqui Smith, stepped in and banned him from entering the country.
But the film - easily viewed on YouTube - does not incite violence and does not break any laws, nor does the home office suggested that it does.
The Orange Party condemns religious zealots who preach hateful racial bigotry, particularly when they hide behind the mask of religion to ram political ideologies down our throats. Wilders' views are loony right but he should be free to express an opinion.
As the Times thunders in an eloquent leader today: "There is almost nothing on which Mr Wilders cannot be relied upon to be inflammatory, ill advised and illiberal, and this is precisely why the Home Secretary is wrong to deny him entry. Mr Wilders is an elected politician in a member state of the European Union. Freedom of speech, association and travel is part of the political culture of Europe."
Wilders opposes what he terms “Islamic invasion” and demands the US and EU “stop appeasing Islam and start fighting together against the rapidly increasing Islamisation of Europe”.
Smith is doing no-one not least decent Muslims any favours. The half-baked decision reeks of double standards, when the UK denies a politician access to the country, just because someone doesn't like what he says.
Let the man in. It is better to blow apart his arguments rather than just forcing him to shut up.
Holding up to ridicule the vices and virtues of society is essential in a tolerant liberal democracy and that has always included the right to oppose, mock and insult people's beliefs, as long as that doesn't overstep a clearly defined legal and moral mark set by the prevailing cultural mood of the day.
But it seems the last thing the home office wanted was a confrontation between Wilders and some British Muslims.
Wilders has never broken the law or threatened anyone with violence, yet the government has stood by while a number of extreme imams have been allowed to preach hatred.
And it doesn't stop at turning a blind eye to extreme Islamists who openly incite murder and the destruction of Jews. Lesbian and gay people have been targets, as people have been allowed in to say whatever they want. On that criteria alone the decision doesn't make sense.
All kinds of undesirables seem to be welcome, while this Dutch MP, who does not preach violence, is told that he can’t come here and that reeks of double standards.
The actions of the home secretary only fuels the belief the government is quite happy to tolerate fanatics but not a misguided Wilders.
And that decision highlights a fundamental and disturbing trend, when pseudo liberal views are allowed to corrupt a democracy's cherished values.
UPDATE: Wilders, defied the ban and flew into Heathrow this afternoon where he's been held by home office immigration officials.