In a way, it is quite amusing that Amber Rudd, our not very bright Home Secretary, has been hoist with her own petard. She and her predecessor (Theresa May) have been very keen on keeping lists of people who have said things which are said to be politically incorrect but which are not criminal. I don’t think either of these great champions of liberty and justice has ever bothered to explain why it is important that men and women who have been falsely accused of “hate crimes” should have their details retained on an official list. It may well be that their aim is no more sinister than a vague desire to be shown to be modern and progressive. On the other hand, it is quite possible that they think their little list of society offenders who never will be missed will come in useful one day. Let us not frighten ourselves by speculating as to what use Mrs May and Ms Rudd could put their list.
Some of you may not have read of Ms Rudd’s embarrassing predicament. Let me explain. In October she made a rather feeble speech to the Conservative Party conference (she is certainly no orator) in which, not nearly as explicitly as Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband had done earlier, she suggested that it would be a good thing if British jobs could be given to British people. It had been mooted, before she delivered the speech, that she intended to propose that all employers should be required to reveal the percentage of jobs in their companies which were carried out by foreigners. Good sense prevailed. That stupid proposal (another example of governments trying to shift the blame from themselves to others) was dropped. So we were just left with the vague stuff about how it would be a good thing if British jobs could, on the whole, go to British rather than foreign subjects.
In order to understand what happened next you need to know that Mrs May and then Ms Rudd have been very keen to demonstrate that they abhor what have come to be known as “hate crimes”. Those are relatively new offences which provide that it is criminal for people to have been horribly beastly to others on grounds of race, sexuality, “gender” (meaning sex) etc. The police, much to their delight because they much prefer to be tucked up in front of computers reading social media sites than out on the cold streets coping with real crime, are required to investigate every allegation of hate crime. Fair enough. But now we get to the gross injustice which both Mrs May and Ms Rudd have vociferously supported. Whenever an allegation of a hate crime is found to have no substance (no evidence of either hate or crime) the police are required to record the allegation as a “hate incident”. That is because, whatever the truth may be, Mrs May and Ms Rudd consider that if anyone claims to have been upset on grounds of race, sexuality, sex etc by what the alleged offender said, that is sufficient to prove that what was said was motivated by hate.
Most sane and decent people, of course, are horrified by the Home Office’s Orwellian approach to “non-crime hate incidents”, as they are charmingly described. It offends all the basic principles of British justice. But Mrs May and Ms Rudd say that we sane and decent people are wrong. It is very important, they contend, that a list should be kept by the police of people who have been guilty of “hate”, as defined by the Home Office, even though it is plain that no offences have been committed.
Back to Ms Rudd’s feeble, but not unreasonable, speech. A dotty physicist called Professor Silver heard about the speech. He didn’t actually hear the speech itself, but he read a draft of it and, as he is eager to tell us, he read the “feedback” (by which I think he means all the twitters saying how evil Ms Rudd was to want to favour British employees over foreigners). He became cross with Ms Rudd for having political opinions which were different from his. So, naturally, being a thoroughly modern 21st century professor, he fired off an allegation to the police that the Home Secretary had committed a hate crime. Some lucky police officer was let off proper duties and detailed to investigate. He or she came, after three months hard work, to the inevitable conclusion that Ms Rudd’s speech was harmless and obviously not criminal. But, because the dotty professor said he thought it was beastly, the police have, following Mrs May’s and Ms Rudd’s guidelines, recorded the speech as a hate incident.
Ms Rudd is on the list. Of course, we must all hope that she won’t be sent to a concentration camp or shot when the reason for the list’s existence is finally revealed, but she is definitely at risk.
Ms Rudd is said to be incandescent with rage. All this non-crime hate incident stuff was never meant to be used against government ministers, “people like us”. Only slightly inadequate, ordinary non-criminals were meant to be victimised.
But the police have done no more than follow Ms Rudd’s own guidance to the letter. She has no one to blame but herself (and the Prime Minister).
The dotty professor, he really is dotty (I have seen him being interviewed), may actually have done some good by making his ludicrous complaint to the police. Ms Rudd may, at last, understand how horribly unjust her policy is. But it may be that it will not be reversed until the professor makes an allegation against the Prime Minister. Let’s hope he gets on with it.