Tag Archives: counter-terrorism

Opinion: Counter-extremism laws will be anything but

Less than a week into the new government and we are already beginning to see the signs of a Conservative party moving sharply to the right now that the Lib Dem shackles are off.

Announcing proposals for counter-extremism legislation yesterday, Home Secretary Theresa May said that she would implement ‘banning orders for groups’ who are ‘actively trying to promote hatred ‘ and ‘undermine British values’. Prime Minister David Cameron added that we have been a ‘passively tolerant society for too long’.

A similar piece of legislation was proposed 3 times during the coalition but was rejected every time. Lib Dem MP Tom Brake today said that they were blocked because they were ‘ill thought through, illiberal and will not tackle the problem they are supposed to’.

For starters, the proposal is flawed in principle. It is undoubtedly the case that these proposals undermine the key British value of freedom of speech. Whilst the Lib Dems hugely disagree with the views of radical fundamentalists like Anjem Choudhry, we will always defend their right to say it. That is a fundamental principle of democracy. If you partially stop freedom of speech, as these proposals do, you set a very dangerous precedent which can border on censorship and risks allowing a government to silence any voice of which it does not approve.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 11 Comments

Davey and Cable defend free speech at universities from Tory attack

Vince Cable Social Liberal Forum conference Jul 19 2014 Photo by Paul WalterWe know that during the passage of the Counter Terrorism and Security Act, Liberal Democrat peers Sal Brinton and Margaret Sharp tried to amend the bill to strengthen the duty on universities to preserve freedom of speech. Senior Tories couldn’t see why that was so important, sadly.

The Observer reports that Conservative and Liberal Democrat ministers, especially Vince Cable, disagree about the planned guidance to be issued to universities about what they can and can’t allow on campus.

In the Sunday

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 22 Comments

A day for Liberal Democrats to speak out for Justice?

It’s not a comfortable day to be a Liberal Democrat today.

The House of Lords is debating the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill. Will it overturn the Commons’ rejection of its amendment protecting the right to Judicial Review? Jonathan Marks wrote of his concerns about this provision earlier this year. When it was last discussed, 17 Liberal Democrats supported the rebel amendment and 43 supported the Government position. You have to ask serious questions when even Lord Carlile thinks the Government is going too far.

It was a Judicial Review that ruled the appalling Prisoner Book ban unlawful last week. The state has more than enough power and screws things up, or at the very least pushes the boundaries all the time. It is vital that citizens have the chance to challenge government decisions in the courts. It’s a vital check on power that should not be being mucked around with.

How can citizens take the government on if the government throws all the tools at their disposal in the bin?

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 5 Comments

The Independent View: A reformed Prevent could tackle extremism more effectively

The government’s counter-extremism strategy, Prevent, is often criticised. Some say it acts like a thought-police, criminalises Islam and over-securitises places like schools. Others claim there is not enough buy in from Muslim communities, that it funds non-violent Islamists to tackle jihadists, or that it is not the government’s job to challenge ideology. Neither criticism is absolutely fair, but as criticised as Prevent is, it undoubtedly serves an important function and is here to stay.

While all terrorists are extremists, the vast majority of extremists do not use terrorism as a viable strategy, and a liberal and democratic nation cannot and should not deal with all extremists in the same way as it deals with terrorists. But catching terrorists who “love death as you love life” is a difficult proposition for the police or the security services when they’re keen to go down fighting and cause as much destruction as possible while they do it. Only dealing with extremism once it becomes violent and illegal is a high stakes game where the penalty for losing is the death of large numbers of innocent civilians. Tackling extremism of all kinds before it becomes violent can reduce the civilian casualties, reduce the number of violent extremists that have to be dealt with, and has the secondary benefit of challenging non-violent behaviour that nonetheless has a negative impact on British society.

Posted in Op-eds and The Independent View | Also tagged and | 10 Comments

Simon Hughes writes… Counter-terrorism bill – the Liberal Democrats are on the right track

The rise of the so-called Islamic State in Syria and Iraq is one of the most serious and dangerous issues we have had to face since we came into Government. Whatever we call this organisation – IS, ISIL or Da’ish – we can’t ignore their brutal activity. The graphic and disturbing images of violence coming from Syria and Iraq show the barbaric way this extremist group has perverted the Muslim faith.

We also need to face up to the reality that this group has publicly announced its desire to bring its murderous ideology to the streets of Britain. The murder of Drummer Lee Rigby is a stark example of the potential threat from extremist ideologues. It is estimated that around 500 British citizens have gone to Syria and Iraq to fight for ISIL and other military groups. Around half have returned and others will continue to do so. This presents a new and unique challenge to the UK security services and police, and earlier this year the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre, run by MI5, raised the threat level from ‘substantial’ to ‘severe’. This means that an attack in the UK by violent extremists is highly likely.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 23 Comments

A couple of thoughts about the proposed counter-terrorism legislation

I’ve got to be honest, I can’t share Malcolm Bruce’s cautious optimism about the Government’s proposed counter-terrorism measures. Denying our own citizens the right to come back to our country without much mention of testing the evidence against them seems pretty drastic to me. When you consider that it’s likely that some of that evidence is likely to be held in secret and therefore not challengeable by the accused person. We could have situations where young muslim men are denied the right to travel or to return to this country unfairly.

Malcolm says that nobody will be made stateless – but what are they supposed to do with themselves for a couple of years. I suspect there may well be young people who go over there and are so sickened by what they see that they have seen that they want to get back to their family. Being with their family may well be the best place for them.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 12 Comments

Julian Huppert writes to Theresa May over Snoopers’ Charter allegation: “I would expect you to issue a public correction and an apology at the earliest opportunity”

Julian Huppert MPRemember when the Tories were, briefly, a party which stuck up for individuals’ privacy? It happened, honestly – when they were in opposition. But now, in government, home secretary Theresa May is happy to push the traditional authoritarian measures beloved by Tories and Labour alike.

And so it was, again, today that she pushed forward the Snoopers’ Charter (aka the little-loved Data Communications Bill), noting, accurately, that it would already be law if it weren’t for those pesky Lib Dems. Fair enough: it’s an honest argument. Lib Dems believe in civil liberties, Tories tend not to.

But Theresa May went well beyond honest debate, alleging that Lib Dem opposition to the state’s right to track your every internet move was a direct threat to children’s lives. Hold on a moment, points out Lib Dem Home Affairs spokesman Julian Huppert in a letter to Mrs May published this evening (see below), that’s just not true and you owe the party an apology.

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 13 Comments

Opinion: The Government’s new Prevent strategy – a missed opportunity

The government has just launched a revamped version of the old failed and worn out counter-extremism strategy initiated by Labour whilst it was in power. Prevent was originally launched after the 7 July bombings in 2005 to stop the spread of home-grown terrorism. Labour’s approach failed, proved divisive and also led to inevitable alienation in Muslim communities. Can the new hardline approach succeed in preventing acts of Islamist violence on the streets of Britain?

The new framework runs counter to the liberal and sensible arguments proposed and hard fought for within Government by Nick Clegg and Andrew Stunell for …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 9 Comments
Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarThomas 24th Apr - 7:12am
    Want to beat TIGGER in policy front? The latest Trudeau budget can give us a clue. If we look beyond the SNC Lavalin mess, evidence...
  • User AvatarJohnMc 23rd Apr - 11:40pm
    Well, Brexiter objections to concern that the Leave campaign violated electoral law amuses me, because they always refer to the Cameron govt leaflet ... surely...
  • User AvatarMichael 1 23rd Apr - 10:31pm
    @TonyH Thanks for your kind words - greatly appreciated! @David Evans I have a large degree of sympathy for much of what you say. Activism...
  • User AvatarKatharine Pindar 23rd Apr - 10:18pm
    David E. Sorry, David, but that latest post of yours is gloomy nonsense. What 'objective measures' are those, when we keep hearing that we should...
  • User AvatarDavid Becket 23rd Apr - 10:01pm
    An Impressive start, four things this party should do today; Announce that: We will stop fracking We will stop opening new coal mines We willl...
  • User AvatarOnceALibDem 23rd Apr - 9:39pm
    Her MEP mailings on at least one occasion included material written by her husband (and employee) close to the MEP selection. When he came second....