Nick Griffin and David Irving are characters who repel. The former espouses obnoxious opinions and the latter simply upends history to meet his own weird views of the truth like a flat-earther or a creationist who ignores immutable scientific fact in favour of their own loopy world-view. How to deal with them is the trick.

I am absolutely certain that the worst thing to do is to get up a storm such as that which was seen outside the Oxford Union lately. Each of these two unpleasant individuals must have been quite delighted by their reception which afforded them far more oxygen than they could ever hope to get in the course of ordinary events which otherwise see them with audiences numbered in handfuls.

The Left shows itself at its worst on such occasions, exhibiting a tendency to suppress free speech that is positively scary. It is a tendency which all those interested in free speech should resist as hard as possible for if we give them so much as an inch they will take a mile. On the back of this tendency have come all sorts of restrictions on free speech, many of which make it very difficult to judge just what you should say or write lest you become the object of Sir Ian Blair and his predilection for fulfilling targets: after all nabbing a sedentary blogger for a Thought Crime is a lot easier than tackling an armed robber or a burglar or a drug dealer and a whole lot safer (not much need for a risk assessment before breaking down a blogger’s front door, after all!).

I have been against every such development proposed and legislated for, usually by the Race Relations Industry, going right back to the Race Relations Act 1968. I would abolish the crime of blasphemy tomorrow and repeal all such laws. All they seem to achieve is to make martyrs of the likes of Griffin and Irving, surely a daft result if ever.

Far better to let them be heard and to use the proper means of ridicule and contempt in destroying their arguments. Instead by trying to make them forbidden you actually make them more exciting, exotic and alluring, like cigarettes, sex and alcohol when those things are forbidden.

Trying to suppress their right to free speech is, frankly, an admission that your own arguments have failed and that the only way of winning is to shut your opponent up. It does not work. The Chaplain at School used to retreat into curtailing our arguments against Christianity with ‘well, God is on my side and so I am right’ which helped turn me into a lifelong atheist. I reckoned that if he was not prepared to allow debate, his case must be really weak.

We should salute the likes of Rowan Atkinson who does so much to help hold back the tide of political correctness in all its most tyrannical manifestations and keep fighting for the right of Messrs. Griffin and Irving to say whatever crackpot thing they want and our right studiously to ignore them with contempt and ridicule.