It is rare that l find myself in agreement with my fellow London Assembly Member, Brian Coleman. However, on the general approach to hate preachers from abroad peddling their vile views on UK soil, we find common ground. In my case I supported a ban on Geert Wilders, the far-right racist from Holland, while Brian Coleman backed the exclusion of the homophobic US pastor Fred Phelps. Moreover, both of us congratulated the home secretary on her decision to prevent these individuals from entering the country.
Freedom of expression is not absolute. We are rightly governed by laws and conventions when we speak. As the mayor has recently learnt when abusing an MP on the phone, the public don’t like us using foul language. And we are not free to slander anyone as we please, since they can have legal recourse. So it is right and proper that incitement to hatred, and by those from abroad in particular, is treated as unacceptable in our society.