With the Home Secretary's conference speech officially recorded as a 'hate incident' after an Oxford University physics professor complained to the police, the academic today appeared on the Daily Politics to explain just why he had spoken out. In an interview with Andrew Neil, Joshua Silver said Amber Rudd's speech -- in which she spoke of her wish to ensure foreign workers 'were not taking jobs British workers could do' -- was 'picking on foreigners':
AN: Why's it picking on foreigners to suggest that British people should need to get on in life?
JS: Well, she did say... there were briefings that she was going to keep lists of foreigners.
AN: No actually that's not what the briefing was, I was at the conference, it was a press report that said that.
JS: Well, I certainly picked up... so the press report wasn't accurate.
AN: The briefing was that it was an option -- it didn't actually happen in the end but it was an option to look at a breakdown of companies to what percentage of British born and foreign born they were employing.
As the interview went on, Silver revealed that he hadn't actually watched the speech -- he had just read a draft after:
'I didn’t actually see the speech but I’ve read the draft. And I’ve looked at all the feedback that there was to the speech. I’ve read the speech carefully and I’ve looked at all the feedback.
It’s discriminating against foreigners, you pick on them and say we want to give jobs to British people and not to foreigners. It was interpreted that way.'
Although Silver's performance could be classed as comical, the interview highlights the problems that occur with having a policy (implemented as part of Rudd's hate crime crackdown) that means anyone can report a hate crime whether or not they actually saw the incident in question. In a sensible system, the police would have dismissed the complaint in its early stages.