This post was first published on Tore Rasmussen’s blog.
Earlier this month I was held captive for a night and a day by the British state for “right-wing” political thought crimes.
Or offensive opinions. Or something along those lines. I am a Norwegian businessman, in consulting and EdTech, and I also work for an organisation called Generation Identity, which campaigns against immigration, especially the current levels of uncontrolled mass immigration into Europe, which we believe, have been nothing short of a disaster for the European people.
No doubt some would find these opinions offensive. They have every right to do so. But laws about free speech exist precisely to protect those whose opinions might be regarded — by some, though not all — as offensive. Right?
Meanwhile, there are others who still believe that immigration is a wonderful thing, including almost the entire political and mass media establishment. I disagree with them fiercely, of course, but I certainly wouldn’t want them silenced.
But when I arrived at Gatwick this month, I was to learn that the British state has already gone far down the road in its suppression of what it terms ‘extremism.’ Which would seem to put me in the same category as the most violent and bloodthirsty Islamic jihadis. In fact, it would make me somehow much more of a criminal than such jihadis, since they have been re-admitted to Britain in their hundreds, returning from Syria, as the Home Office has admitted. But I have been barred from entering the UK — and apparently barred for life.
Neither I nor Generation Identity, it goes without saying, have ever committed or condoned acts of violence. We are a wholly peaceful campaign group, who favour ‘mischievous’ acts of rebellion and provocation, such as hanging our banner from the impeccably-PC School of African and Oriental Studies in London a few weeks ago.
So what is it actually like to be arrested as a political criminal in the UK nowadays? The truth is, it is a polite and even curiously bland experience — but it masks a very serious development in the way Britain is policed, which I do not think the British people are aware of.
My plane landed at Gatwick at 17.55 on the 3rd of May. I was planning to go to the automated passport control, but absent-mindedly sending out a few last minute text messages, I ended up at the staffed border control without realising.
After a few seconds of looking at my passport and their computer screens, they said that I needed to come with them. One of them said reassuringly,
“This happens all the time. Just a few questions and you will be free to go.”
I already feared that this was not going to be the case. I was taken to a room that was just a few meters away. They ask if I wanted any food and placed me in a holding room, where the chairs were attached to the floor with a chain. I accept the offer of some food and got a reasonably edible microwave meal of rice and chicken that evening. I was happy that I could get unlimited tea, coffee and hot chocolate as well, which I took advantage of. Eating and drinking are ways to kill the boredom.
After maybe 30–45 minutes I was interrogated by two members of the border police.
They asked me if I was a member of Generation Identity, and what my role was at the conference we organised in Kent the 14th of April this year. I confirmed that I was a member and that I indeed was the conference chairman.
For some reason they had to write down all my answers by hand, and did not record the conversation. I addressed this and said that this was not ideal and they agreed and continued anyway. After a short talk I was moved to an accompanying room, given another microwave meal and got to meet some of my fellow detainees.
One was a Japanese student who was planning a trip of a lifetime, travelling around the UK for 8 weeks after ending years of studying over here. But he had made a mistake with his visa and was deported the day after. I really felt bad for him. He looked about 27 years old, and the kind of guy that had never have broken any laws in his life.
The other detainee was an African lady who said she had been there since 6am that morning. She refused to eat in protest against what she said was “bad food”! I was getting bored myself, and so had a third microwave meal — this time noodles with hot water. I wasn’t sure how much more I could take though. Were the British police practising some cunning new form of wearing a prisoner down, by the administration of bland ready meals?
At about 9pm the border police came back, with a letter that stated that I “share values which do not commensurate with UK society” It was the bad news I expected. I was refused entry to the UK. The good news was that I was to be deported the next morning at 8pm. Relieved now with my early deportation, at least, I got to work, calling my friends using a payphone in the detention room and securing a “bed” — a mattress on the floor. Since I has been expecting that I might get deported, I felt quite cheerful now, and the guard was in response friendly.
I tried to comfort the unfortunate Japanese tourist and then slept like a baby for 6 hours until another African was put into the detention room and put the TV on at 6 am!
Being escorted to my plane, the two replacement border guards seemed genuinely puzzled over why I was refused entry and I was not put in handcuffs. I was somehow deemed a serious threat to British society — but I was clearly not considered dangerous enough for handcuffs.
The whole episode seemed simultaneously polite and surreal, unjust and rather incompetent — if British readers don’t mind me saying so. Up until then I had been living in the UK for several months, in rented accommodation — but of course I have now lost my deposit, and need to have the possessions I left in the flat sent to me. And yet many more dangerous criminals and jihadis seem to be admitted to Britain all the time.
Meanwhile I am free to come and go in my own homeland, Norway, where the press actually covered the story with neutrality and some puzzlement. I also come and go in the Republic of Ireland, in Austria, in fact in every other European country, in none of which am I regarded as some monster of malign revolutionary intent.
None of it makes much sense to me, to be honest. But then I’m a foreigner, of course. Perhaps it all makes good sense to you, my British friends?