For years now we have been witnessing a creeping intrusion into one of the most cherished features of Britain’s democratic heritage – free speech. That’s because there’s a group of influential people who are clearly trying to destroy it.
They never tire of preaching to us about “tolerance”, “diversity” and “human rights”. Yet when their own views of the world are challenged or repudiated, they react aggressively and show nothing but…er…intolerance towards divergent opinions. Who are “they”?
“They” are the new liberal establishment. A set of privileged, arrogant and increasingly neurotic people of left wing persuasion, who chiefly inhabit the worlds of politics, the media and the public sector, but whose pernicious influence has spread like a virus into areas such as the tech and entertainment sectors too.
Their disrespect, bordering on contempt, towards anyone who dares to take issue with their views has been shockingly exposed since the Brexit referendum. Those who voted against remaining in the EU are routinely dismissed as ignorant, xenophobic morons who didn’t know what they were voting for. And elsewhere in Europe where voters have returned Eurosceptic politicians who dare to reject EU policies, their electoral success is dismissed as mere “populism”.
The liberal establishment views the governments of Austria, Italy and Poland as a bunch of vulgar nationalists who have wickedly exploited public hysteria about immigration to pursue “authoritarian” and “islamophobic” policies.
Then there’s Hungary.
Hungary refuses to be bullied
Hungary, like the rest of Central Europe, suffered more than 40 wasted years imprisoned behind the Iron Curtain. As with Poland and other Warsaw Pact states, Hungary endured decades of the economic failure and political oppression that invariably go hand in hand with authoritarian socialism (Corbyn supporters please take note).
Hungarians have seen what has happened to Western European societies in the era of mass, uncontrolled immigration. They have seen “multi-culturalism” in action. They have also seen how political correctness stifles free debate and disengages people from expressing themselves freely and honestly. As a result, and much to the chagrin of the liberal establishment, Hungarians keep votng for politicians who have no truck with such nonsense.
For example, when Hungary’s borders were threatened by a mass influx of economic migrants, instead of allowing an army of human rights lawyers to descend on them, and instead of showering them with free housing, benefits and legal aid, Hungary promptly erected miles of razor wire fencing aimed at keeping them out.
In doing so, Victor Orbán and his government have become the bogeymen for “liberals” across Europe.
The Maitlis interview
So it was naturally with great interest that we tuned in to watch an interview between BBC Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis and Péter Szijjártó, Hungary’s straight-talking Foreign Minister.
And what mesmerising television it was. Here was something we don’t see very often in Britain – a politician who answers questions honestly and directly and who refuses to hide behind platitudes and politically correct soundbites.
The result was to completely show up Maitlis as a biased, fully paid-up member of the new liberal establishment. She duly berated her guest about Hungary’s alleged failure to embrace so-called “tolerance” and “diversity”. But in doing so, it was very clear that she had no tolerance for any views
that diverged from her own.
It was as though she was thrown off balance by Mr Szijjártó‘s frankness. Challenged as to whether he supported some of the more colourful comments made by Victor Orbán about immigration, a British politician would have side-stepped such a question. But not Mr Szijjártó. He agreed with his Prime Minister.
Nor did he flinch from explaining that Hungary did not believe that multi-culturalism was in itself a good thing. But he respected the right of others to disagree.
Maitlis, however, showed no respect for a diversity of opinion that differed from her own. Her whole “interview” comprised a series of leading questions, hostile statements and interruptions. Her distaste for Hungary’s policies were not disguised.
This was not journalism; it was largely crude invective. Maitlis will no doubt win plaudits from among like-minded friends at her next dinner party, but for TV audiences looking to Maitlis for some objective commentary, her distasteful treatment of Mr Szijjártó has left her a much diminished figure.
It has also highlighted again the utter hypocrisy of the liberal left. Isn’t it time they looked in the mirror?