The right of free speech is at the heart of democracy, and even has to be extended to those who don't actually believe in freedom.
The recent attempts by the student/feminist movement to prevent the Socialist Workers Party from exercising it's democratic rights is understandable given the behaviour of the SWP, but would without doubt set a dangerous precedent.
Quite simply where would it end?
But the recent actions of the SWP in Edinburgh really do show the "comrades" up for what hypocrites they are.
The SWP has claimed a motion is "libellous" so the students union has withdrawn it. Now the Students newspaper has had to have every page containing a report about the motion on the SWP removed because the editors are worried about legal costs should the SWP pursue this course of action.
Is it a bluff?
Dave Renton, a former SWP member does and writes:
The SWP’s problem is that truth is a complete defence to libel. And the only way that a court can establish whether a person has spoken untrtuthfully is by ordering both sides to disclose all the documents of a case and forming a view for itself. That means that one of the tasks facing any organisation seriously maintaining libel is to disclose to the court and to the party which it accuses of libel all the documents of the case, both those that support its case, and those that potentially undermine its case.
Charlie Kimber knows very well the catastrophic impact that the details of what happened during the two investigations would have – even on Smith’s most blinkered supporters, let alone on any new recruits to the SWP – if they were finally made public. He has no doubt been advised, or if he has not been advised, he should have been – that once a document has been part of court proceedings, there is nothing you can do to stop its open discussion. For those reasons, he will not pursue a libel threat to court.
The real question that needs to be put to the Socialist Workers Party is this:
How come it's OK for the SWP to use the courts for libel and not rape allegations?