Jack Thomson is an actor, scholar and free speech advocate from the North East of England. Since July 2019, he has been Young Independence Co-ordinator for North of Tyne.

I came across UKIP in late 2018. I was very fond of their policies. Also, Gerard Batten had the right confidence, charisma and energy I believe a Prime Minister should have. Nevertheless, I was still on the fence. My interest grew a lot when Tommy Robinson became involved with the party. I had watched many of Tommy’s videos and he too was a man of principle and his incredible devotion to this day cannot be matched by anyone else. When Tommy and Gerard were presenting the exposé on the BBC, Panodrama, I watched it live online and was totally amazed by the undercover journalism done by Tommy. The next day, I signed up.

Due to this political relocation, I broadcasted this to my peers at Sixth Form. This was obviously met with mixed responses. But surprisingly, it was from the teachers that I got the most negativity from. I felt there was a change in attitude from them towards me. This was confirmed when teachers would make sly comments every now and then about students with supposed ‘far right beliefs’. It was becoming more and more uncomfortable to even speak out at class due to the fear of being shaded by the teacher.

I joined the debating society, which was the only free speech hub in the college environment. This angered me as this was the only place I could go to really argue my point without fear of any repercussions. I brought this point up with the deputy head, and tried to suggest that the college as a whole should be free speech friendly. My suggestions were shut down immediately and his response was that such a suggestion may be frowned upon. This was a disappointment yet I adhered to the rules respectively, and only discussed politics in the free speech zone.

This did not stop the teachers from persecuting me. I was brought into the deputy heads office several times due to complaints from other students about my views. One time, I had been called in due to me mentioning Tommy Robinson’s name in a debate I was having about immigration. I discussed that Tommy should be given a chance in the political world as his points have a lot of value and the media blacklist him for telling the truth. I was required to sit through a video outlining how to avoid radicalisation. I queried why I was having to do this and his response was because of my allegiance to Tommy Robinson. I outlined that I never stated I supported him, but I was ignored. I felt like I was being unfairly treated because I argued differently to what the teachers believed in.

I left that Sixth Form as I couldn’t handle the prejudice any more. It was quite an upsetting time for me but only made me realise that people will do anything to silence the truth. I didn’t change my views to be treated better by the teachers. I stuck by what I believed in, I took the persecution on the chin and stood strong for my freedom of speech.

I know I am not alone and many teachers will do what they can to inflict indoctrination of their beliefs onto students, and people who don’t agree will be deemed ‘outcasts’. But don’t let them win, do not let them change who you are. We are the voice of truth and as the next generation, we must continue the fight for free speech and we will get challenges placed in front of us every day. We will overcome these challenges and stand together for our freedom.