Democracy – The importance of dissidence.

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If something is worthy it will stand up to close scrutiny.

No institution should be above criticism, whether that be a government, religion or political party.

Someone who is prepared to look closely at what is going on around them, see what is wrong and speak out is someone who should be valued and lauded above all else.

Without criticism we do not get improvement. Without people being prepared to put their head above the parapet and speak out we do not get justice. If our dissidents and critics are gagged we have tyranny. If a government, leader, religion or political party places itself above the judgement of its peers we are in danger of despotic fascism.

This is why Islam threatens its critics with cruel death to shut them up.

This is why tyrannical governments of all hues round up their critics and execute them.

The free air of liberty comes from the throats of brave dissidents.

In Britain we have a strong tradition of dissidence, protest and struggle. It has won us our rights and freedoms.

In the modern age I cannot think of any greater dissident than the poet, musician and songwriter Roy Harper. I have not always agreed with him but his intelligent observations and fearless outspokenness are an inspiration. It is lamentable to see him brought down so low by allegations of this nature concerning events forty years ago.

Let us hope justice is done.