'Brussels just tried to shut down free speech and Farage has emerged yet again as their greatest foe'

Nigel Farage

Nigel Farage was delivering a speech

Stephen Pound

By Stephen Pound

Published: 24/04/2024

- 12:09

Updated: 24/04/2024

- 12:25

Stephen Pound praises Nigel Farage for continuing to champion free speech

Nigel Farage is simply the most extraordinary politician currently on the stage and the utterly bizarre and deeply troubling activities in Brussels this April illustrate yet again his ability to shape the debate and go some way towards offering an alternative.

The story is well known by now.

Although you could be forgiven for thinking that Nigel Farage had seen more than enough of Brussels during his decades in the European Parliament, he was one of the keynote speakers – along with Hungary’s Viktor Orban and the UK’s Suella Braverman – of the National Conservatism Conference which was billed to run for two days in the Belgian capital and to pull together conservative thinkers and actors from across Europe in an attempt to lay down the foundations of a fundamental recasting of the entire political scene.

The conference was due to commence at the Concert Nobel venue but with little or no warning the mayor of Brussels issued an edict closing it down.

The resourceful conservatives identified and engaged with a second venue – the rather luxurious Sofitel hotel – but the mayor managed to scupper that one as well and it was only when a very courageous Tunisian owner of the Claridge event space offered shelter to the conference attendees that things got under way.

What then followed was a scene of utter farce but one overlaid with a deeply serious and troubling significance.

Food was smuggled in despite the Belgian police erecting barricades outside the venue and at one stage Suella Braverman was left to address a near empty hall while the newly minted martyr Nigel Farage spoke to rather a larger crowd in the street outside.

Finally, the Belgian Prime Minister, Alexander De Croo – overrode the provincial tinpot politicos and the conference was allowed to continue – albeit in a severely truncated form.

A couple of vitally important issues arise from this nonsense.

The owner of the Claridge, Lassaad Ben Yaghlane, said that he did not endorse the policies of the speakers but he supported their right to free speech.

This, surely, is the issue that really matters.

Voltaire did not actually say that while he may disagree with a person’s opinions, he would defend to the death their right to express them but he was certainly thinking along those lines.

By trying to close down a conference and to deny the those present the basic human right to express an opinion and to debate and discuss the future direction of the continent the narrow and closed minds in the Brussels politburo showed that they were truly terrified of anyone expressing views that did not precisely align with their own.

Nigel Farage is often the human searchlight that illuminates the dark places and he certainly did so when Coutts bank made the lethal mistake to cancelling him as a customer on utterly spurious grounds and suffering a massive reputational hit as a consequence.

The pathetic attempt to stifle free speech in Belgium has allowed Nigel Farage to make the most powerful possible case against those who would deny the freedom of thought and expression.

Surely the deluded Mayor must realise that if you seek to close down public debate and discourse you not only drive it underground but prove the case made by many that a liberal groupthink allows no critical examination or challenge.

Media outlets like GB News allow people to act as adults and respect opposing views rather than trying to throw a blanket over them.

It cannot be healthy for any democratic body to act like the Soviet secret police and break up any gathering that they do not approve of.

Nigel Farage will ride this horse for quite a distance and I rather suspect that he has already won the argument. This might actually be the tipping point in which the intolerant and abusive individuals who cannot bear to acknowledge that they may not be the only people entitled to an opinion are forced to accept that a society cannot be free if speech is not free.

The symbol of Brussels is Le Manneken Pis – the statue of a child urinating over the public.

The Mayor of Brussels came close to acting out the part of this statue and ended up looking as offensive and ridiculous as the peeing boy.

Nigel Farage has yet again emerged as the champion of that priceless and threatened quality – free speech.

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