Is Theresa May Really A Safe Option For Prime Minister?

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Ben reflects on Theresa May’s time as Home Secretary and wonders if she is right for the top job.

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 ‘I’ve excluded from Britain more hate preachers than any home secretary ever…’

The aftermath of the Conservative Leadership Bid has resulted in Theresa May becoming the new Prime Minister of Britain. With Andrea Leadsom’s questionable policies, most notably concerning gay marriage, and Michael Gove’s strong right-wing stance, May certainly seems to have been the safest option as prime minister. However, I think certain aspects of May’s role for the last six years as Home Secretary certainly don’t portray her as this reliable option. I want to draw attention towards how willing May has been in enforcing bans upon people from entering the UK. As well as banning high-profile people such as Edward Snowden and Abu Qattada, she has also banned many famous entertainers such as Chris Brown and Mike Tyson. I particularly want to focus on her ban on one of my favourite rappers, Tyler, the Creator. I personally think that this incident demonstrates that her record as home secretary could potentially be damaging in the future once she becomes Prime Minister.

One of the most notable things coming out of Theresa May’s role as Home Secretary has been the numerous bans she has made on high profile individuals from entering Britain. Most recently, she attempted unsuccessfully to ban Donald Trump, the potential future president of the USA. What is strange is how proud she is of these bans – during the 2015 Conservative election campaign she declared ‘I’ve excluded from Britain more hate preachers than any home secretary ever’. This certainly seems to be an attack on free speech. Whilst I certainly don’t agree with the viewpoints of many of those who currently are banned from the UK from May, they are entitled to speak their peace. Personally, I find Donald Trump being serenaded with Mexican flags upon his visit to Scotland a lot more enjoyable than the prospect of having him just banned from the UK. We live in a democratic nation, so surely these figures with questionable moral outlooks should still be entitled to free speech , rather than being repressed based on the values of the Conservative party.

We live in a democratic nation…

The instance of this which frustrates me the most is concerning a rapper from America that I really like, Tyler, the Creator. This 25-year-old rapper from Los Angeles is the head of the hip-hop collective Odd Future, and has a huge core base in the UK. I personally think he is a very talented rapper and would love to see him live, as he has a reputation for putting on a great live show. Last year, Tyler was banned from the UK on the account that he ‘encourages violence and intolerance of homosexuality’ and ‘fosters hatred with views that seek to provoke others to terrorist acts’ through his lyrics. These were based on lyrics that Tyler rapped about in his 2009 debut mixtape, when he was only 18. This mixtape featured lyrics that referenced rape and homophobia, but as Tyler himself has acknowledged, these were clearly lyrics from when he was an immature teenager and he has never had any record of actually promoting homophobic or violent values in real life. In 2016, whilst certainly a fan of using profanity in his lyrics, Tyler no longer raps about these topics and certainly does more for good than your typical rapper would – he has a yearly carnival, and recently hosted his own fashion show through his label, GOLFWANG. Interestingly, there are number of his clothes items that promote gay pride values.

Interestingly, there are number of his clothes items that promote gay pride values.

The biggest question concerning this issue for most people is why did Theresa May ban Tyler, the Creator? Why did she ban someone in 2015 based on lyrics that he wrote in 2009? Furthermore, he is by no means a widely-known artist in the UK. Whilst he certainly sells out shows here, he has by no means made an impact on the British charts (he hasn’t charted on the British top 40 singles chart, and his latest album, ‘Cherry Bomb’, peaked at number 16. Why does this matter to May? It is unlikely she has much knowledge of Tyler at all, which makes it more worrying at how this ban has gone through. The issue of Trump is remotely understandable, as he is a widely known and maligned figure, but how she is willing to ban someone she rarely knows about speaks ill for her role as home secretary. It seems as though this request to ban Tyler, the Creator (people have attempted to ban him from countries such as Australia as well) was not at the forefront of Theresa May’s worries, and the fact that her natural instinct was to ban the rapper is extremely worrying and poses this question – how many people in the future will be subject to this unfair repression from our new Prime Minister?

One could even argue that this is a race-based declaration from Theresa May – Eminem, a rapper who is far more popular than Tyler, the Creator, continues to advocate homophobia and sexual violence in his lyrics to this day despite being in his forties, yet a ban for him has not been remotely considered by May. Chris Brown and Mike Tyson, both of whom are black, are the select entertainers to be banned from the UK despite the fact that many other white entertainers have questionably worse track records concerning violence and questionable moral outlooks.

I find myself really angered by how many of these politicians declare themselves to be advocates of free speech…

This attempt to moralize society through these bans by Theresa May brings a side to her character that hasn’t been considered by many in this ongoing Conservative leadership bid. I find myself really angered by how many of these politicians declare themselves to be advocates of free speech, but immediately choose to impose restrictions based on their moral values. What people consider offensive, especially concerning something such as music, is completely subjective. Rap lyrics are not considered by most people to be harmful and there is no way you can prove that they, as May refers to it, ‘provoke others to terrorist acts’. This particular incident concerning Tyler, the Creator is quite significant on two levels. Firstly, it means that I have to go to another country if I want to see him perform within the next four to five years. Secondly, and more importantly for everyone, it demonstrates an incident where Theresa May’s natural instinct was to ban someone with a questionable moral standpoint. Whilst many have drawn a sigh of relief that May has become the new prime minister, her attitude towards free speech certainly exposes a side of her that could lead to damaging effects when she takes charge of the country.

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