Question Time Audience Delivers Damning Verdict On Michael Gove's New Extremism Definition

No one put their hands up to say they supported his big announcement.

Michael Gove’s big announcement on how the government plans to tackle political extremism has been condemned by the BBC Question Time audience.

The communities secretary unveiled the long-awaited strategy yesterday.

Under the plans, the definition of extremism has been changed to mean the “promotion or advancement of an ideology based on violence, hatred or intolerance”.

Groups or individuals that fall foul of the new definition will not receive any government funding or support.

Gove said the move was necessary following the spike in anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim hatred in the wake of the October 7 attacks on Israel by Hamas.

He said: “Our democracy and our values of inclusivity and tolerance are under challenge from extremists.

“In order to protect our democratic values, it is important both to reinforce what we have in common and to be clear and precise in identifying the dangers posed by extremism.”

But on Question Time on BBC1 last night, the Liverpool audience gave the announcement a comprehensive thumbs-down.

Presenter Fiona Bruce said: “Let me just ask, in the interests of balance, is there anyone here who welcomes what Michael Gove had to say and supports what he had to say?”

An awkward few seconds then followed, in which no one put their hands up.

Bruce then said: “Not a hand up, OK.”

In the Commons yesterday, Gove used parliamentary privilege to list five groups which could fall under the new extremism definition.

He mentioned two “extreme right-wing” groups which “promote neo-Nazi ideology”, the white supremacist group, the British National Socialist Movement and the far-right nationalist group, Patriotic Alternative, which used to be part of the BNP.

Gove then pointed to three Muslim groups which he said “give rise to concern for their Islamist orientation and views” – including a British Sunni Muslim group, Muslim Association of Britain, which reportedly may have links to the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas.

Gove also named campaign group CAGE which campaigns for those affected by the “war on terror” and MEND, which tries to tackle Islamophobia and engagement within British Muslim communities.

But the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell said that the proposals risk “disproportionately targeting Muslim communities”.


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