THE BLOG

Theresa May's Muddled Response To Terrorism

05/06/2017 11:17
Stefan Wermuth / Reuters

On Sunday 4 June 2017, in response to the latest London terrorist outrage, Theresa May came up with a new approach to the problem. However, upon examination, it is neither new nor practical but muddled and self-defeating.

"Turn Minds Away"
The first task, says Theresa, is to defeat "the evil ideology of Islamist extremism". This ideology, asserts Theresa, "will only be defeated when we turn people's minds away from this violence and make them understand that our values - pluralistic British values - are superior to anything offered by the preachers and supporters of hate".

UN Warning
How exactly can this be achieved? The aim of the government's "Prevent" counter-radicalisation programme, as revamped in 2011, is to stop people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism. This is simply naïve. Why would educated UK-born young Muslims be prepared to sacrifice their own lives in the name of an "extremist" ideology? This could only happen as a result of serious disaffection coupled with desperation. The UN's rapporteur. Maina Kiai, has warned that "Prevent could end up promoting extremism , rather than countering it."

"Stamping out Extremism"
"There is", says Theresa May, "far too much tolerance of extremism in our country. So we need to become far more robust in identifying it and stamping it out across the public sector and across society." She failed to indicate how that could be done without encroaching on freedom of expression and freedom of thought. And, for that matter, what is the definition of "extremism"? The government's proposed legislation promised in the Queen's speech in May 2016 failed to materialize because of a lack of a commonly agreed definition.

Censoring the Internet
"We cannot allow this ideology the safe space it needs to breed," declares Theresa, adding: "Yet that is precisely what the internet and the big companies that provide internet-based services provide." So, is she proposing to censor the internet and force Google, Facebook and Twitter to do the same? This is unrealistic and it again flies in the face of the fundamental rights to freedom of expression and freedom of belief.

Shot Itself in the Head
In the light of the increased terrorist threat, opines Theresa, "we need to review Britain's counter-terrorism strategy to make sure the police and security services have all the powers they need." Here at last is a sensible and practical policy -- but one in regard to which the government has already shot itself in the foot, or even in the head. In 2010, for example, they congratulated themselves on scrapping the previous Labour government's ID card scheme, to the point of gleefully shredding the ID database. Secondly, they have lamely allowed the courts to prevent them from deporting terror suspects - when in fact, as Lord Neuberger, President of the Supreme Court, has pointed out, Parliament has the power to revoke (i.e. cancel) any court decision. And lastly, they have allowed a handful of judges and a "liberal" elite to impose on society a "politically correct" culture, which includes, for example, the outlawing of a Christian bakery's refusal to make a cake proclaiming "Support Gay Marriage", trampling underfoot the Christian bakers' rights to their own freedom of expression and freedom of belief, not to mention their ordinary contractual right to accept or reject any customer order.

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