Two unconnected stories from the last few days illustrate how the good cop/bad cop routine can lead to confusion.
First up look at the Geller and Spencer UK entry denial story. Surely if looked at purely in isolation this would be a good thing, these people do hold extreme views and regardless of their claims that somehow it reflects badly on the country that gave the world the Magna Carta banning them is the right thing to do. Their appearance would lead to public disorder that would far outweigh any public benefit from whatever they have to preach to the converted and surely in a grown-up civilised society free speech isn't a given it comes with responsibility. The whole point of Speakers Corner at Hyde Park for example was that it gave a whole raft of people the opportunity to express their views publicly but within certain socially acceptable parameters, there hasn't been Carte Blanche with regards to freedom of speech in public in the UK since Peterloo at least.
Which of course brings us to the main reason that their denial has made the news, they are the other side of the coin to the Muslim nutters who spread race hate through the mosques and those non-English speaking Imams who live in the UK without fear of being deported, they have impunity and apparently some degree of legal protection. In an ideal world neither Geller and Spencer or the Imams would be allowed to set foot in this country, it's not about protecting free speech but of the right of a society to have expectations of continuing to exist within certain boundaries. Unfortunately we now have the situation in the UK where the left of centre has for so long sided with any group of misguided individuals who seemingly oppose the views of the majority that it is not possible to see any other view as anything other than a danger to our 'British way of life' which must strike anybody as clearly absurd, committing acts of terror, child abuse, rape, female genital mutilation are not conducive to the British way of life however few the numbers involved.
I don't actually see the EDL as a threat to the fabric of British life anymore than I see UKIP as potential holders of the balance of power in the next General Election, both are products of a malaise which has produced extremism simply by ignoring extremism - they are both reactionary. Having watched the right of centre of politics in the UK sit on its hands for most of the last twenty years, and complain about the increasing liberalisation of the UK, despite the fact that the UK has had more years under the Conservatives than Labour since 1945, it is perhaps to be expected that having seen the party ease itself closer to the centre that those with nationalistic views, however soft, see the EDL and UKIP as their right to reply, this is in itself probably a good thing. But I'm still not convinced that allowing Geller and Spencer into the country when we already give room to other foreign born nutters is a good thing.
Totally disconnected with the above is the news that from 1st July the old bugbear of European travellers, the mobile phone roaming charges, have been capped with further reductions next year. This has certainly confused some UKIP followers who have taken to the Interweb to accuse the EU of being evil and conspiring to put up our mobile phone charges because the companies involved will have to recoup these 'losses'. It's an interesting take, the roaming charges were supported by the strange idea that the EU is 27 individual markets and not one trading area, the charges were in fact a penalty for moving from one country to another imposed upon users whose only crime was to move within a trading area that is considered for employment and VAT law (to name but two) to be one mass market. Incidentally this does seem to be a case where telephone companies have already begun to do their bit towards lowering roaming charges in the hope of heading off any legislation but the EU have been working on this since 2007 and weren't likely to let this one slip.