There is no doubt that New Labour gives not a fig for individual liberty, so the banning by the money-grabbing Jacqui Smith of Geert Wilders is run-of-the-mill – but it is still both wrong and dangerous, and has whipped up precisely the kind of frenzy about his Melanie Phillips like gibberings which Smith claimed to be trying to avoid.
It was equally wrong to ban Yusuf al-Qaradawi. I just heard the BBC World Service conduct some unusually good interviews with political figures, where those who opposed the banning of Wilders (eg Baroness Cox) supported the banning of al-Qaradwi, while those who opposed the banning of al-Qaradwi (eg Ken Livingstone) supported the banning of Wilders. Both sides argue, equally unconvincingly, that the man they dislike may incite to violence.
The BBC appeared unable to find any supporter of the principle of freedon of expression.
There was no reason to suppose that either Wilders or al-Qaradwi planned any unlawful activity in the UK, and had they done so they might properly have been arrested. But the gut instincts of New Labour are viciously authoritarian. Those of all views who value liberty should unite to resist them. The problem is, the number of people who really do believe in liberty for those with whom they disagree, appears to have grown exceedingly small.