The Tory MP for Gloucester has called for Gloucester’s Religious Groups and Political Groups to be banned from joining in the parades for Gloucester Carnival and Gloucester Day itself. In the next, rather gob smacking turn of events, Richard Graham has called for a restriction in freedom of expression and freedom of speech by banning the Religious and Political Groups from joining in the fun of the Marches.
Richard rather angrily laid into me after Gloucester Carnival for marching the labour banner round as part of the Gloucester Carnival. I think he was rather put out by the positive support we had from the public. He didn’t seem to understand that the Local Party is a movement of like-minded people from all over the city, and many people really appreciated in seeing us there, participating in the community. The issue of the religious groups has come up before, and Paul James at that time was quite clear that while people may not like the number of religious groups, why should we not allow them to have their space, they are as much part of this city as we are. I don’t agree with the literature they were handing out and maybe there is an argument for not handing things out, but to ban them completely is not really compliant with democracy.
He is clearly trying to stop Labour from having our banner, but who else would be affected? The Councillor float would have to go as that is the political representation, he would have to remove himself, in fact, Gloucester Day itself is a celebration of a political event, therefore he should call for it to be cancelled. Any religious organisations would need to go, so any of the faith-based schools would be excluded as would any of our faith-based community groups. Gloucester day also starts from the Conservative club in Gloucester, so that would also be inappropriate.
We need to be growing participation in the carnival, Gloucester day and other community events, not being put off by an MP just because he doesn’t like it. In this age of people becoming more and more disenfranchised from Politics, we should be getting involved in more and more events, not less, to highlight that we are no different from anyone else, and that anyone can get involved. We also don’t need an MP who wants to restrict freedom of expression and speech!