Part 1 (Introduction): A Review of the Casey review (1)
The ideological slant of the Casey Review is manifest in its discourse on PREVENT. In this part, the interlinking between social cohesion, extremism and terrorism will be analysed, along with the Review’s determined agenda to manage the negative perceptions of the crisis-stricken PREVENT policy.
Conveyor Belt theory in all but Name
The Casey Review extends the notion of controlling ideas (a topic thoroughly explored in the next part) from potential threats to the state to whole communities which are “not integrated”, by leveraging PREVENT-based “British values” from the Counter Extremism Strategy:
“While individually these values are recognised as not uniquely British, the current Government in its Counter Extremism Strategy considers the following combination integral to a successful and cohesive nation…”
Social cohesion, therefore explicitly connects to the British values social engineering programme. The implication is where communities are not “cohesive”, i.e. not believing in the political religion of the state (further explored in the next piece), they are vulnerable to extremism:
“Mistrust, anxiety and prejudice grow where communities live separately. That allows people with extremist agendas to step in and spread fear, hatred and division.”
In other words, a lack of social cohesion, per Casey caused by orthodox Islamic views and particular political opinions that contravene British values, renders the community sharing these ideas vulnerable to extremism. In the PREVENT Duty guidance document, “radicalisation” is defined as a,
“…process by which a person comes to support terrorism and forms of extremism leading to terrorism.”
“Extremism” according to PREVENT leads to terrorism. Drawing tokenistic attention to the fact that other radicalisation factors exist is immaterial as the abovementioned provides the structural basis for the entire Casey Review and the PREVENT programme, and indeed remains the most publicised focus of the Review’s findings. What we have then is the academically-debunked conveyor-belt theory of radicalisation rearing its ugly, stigmatising head underpinning policy in all but name.
The Review struggles to define “extremism” – an intrinsically ideological term fraught with hermeneutical problems. In its section on Extremism, the Review admits that “Extremism is a subjective concept” that is “defined in a number of ways”. At this point it would be safe to assume that any attempt at actually creating a definition which can be objectively applied as a matter of law and policy, particularly for pre-crime objectives, would be pointless, and a violation of the rule of law and natural justice. However, Casey soldiers on suggesting that “extremist views will often be seen as uncompromising or intolerant”, ignoring the ever-so-subtle vitiation of her own entire Review, which is predicated on an intolerance towards heterogeneous views and an uncompromising imposition of “British values” upon people against the threat of being identified as potential terrorists. Supporting her efforts, Casey enlists the women-abusing feminist and PREVENT activist Sara Khan and in particular her book. The book, as already covered in part 2 of this series, has been linked to the Home Office’s black propaganda department RICU, suggesting that Casey’s citation here is self-referencing.
Casey then adduces the PREVENT definition of “extremism”, which she laughably claims makes the “concept of extremism less subjective” by providing specified “mainstream social norms against which extremist views or actions can be assessed.” The moment one attempts to define “mainstream social norms” the entire effort becomes de facto subjective, and, with the neoconservative state defining these, ideological too. One of the values articulated is “individual liberty”, which includes freedom from discrimination based on beliefs and views. Yet by determining the “mainstream social norm” – the interpretation of which, as exemplified in her review, excludes orthodox Islamic beliefs and practices shared with other faiths as well as political opinions, Casey, and PREVENT expressly discriminate against a person who holds views considered outside of the arbitrary “mainstream”. The whole Review is thus antithetical to the purported “British value” of individual liberty.
A defence of the concept of “extremist” as presenting a precursor to a terrorist is justified in her particularly catchy soundbite: not all extremists are terrorists but “all terrorists are extremists”. This quip attempts to circumvent the establishing academic consensus which postulates that focus on ideology is misplaced. Compounding this is the politically subjective terminology of the designation “terrorist”. Would Nelson Mandela, whose statue stands in Parliament Square, be considered an extremist? Would American revolutionaries whom violently opposed the British monarchy – and therefore considered terrorists today – spurred on by Enlightenment ideas, also be considered extremists given the “values” they subscribed too were philosophically similar to those espoused by Casey as “British values? Or are only those beliefs not dominated and distorted by liberalism to be cast as extremist? Quite simply, there is absolutely nothing remotely objective about PREVENT or its construction of “extremism”.
PREVENT – Project Spin
Given the years of anti-Muslim political and media dog-whistling in the context of terrorism, the clear neoconservative influence of the Case Review, it’s racist and discriminatory content, and the recommendations which shout paternalism and regulation, it should come as no surprise that the Review, concordant to the neoconservative status quo, puts up a defence of PREVENT and in general to the Counter Violent Extremism industrial propaganda complex. In fact, it is a section that could have easily been penned by some sad soul at the hate-financed Henry Jackson Society (HJS), which has previously drafted a publication on how to suppress PREVENT dissent through spin, elements of which are reproduced in the Review.
The Review paints an incredibly rose-tinted view of PREVENT and the CVE industry, normalising it whilst rendering opposition to it idiosyncratic. It admits that the concept of “British values” is “rejected by many”. However, later, it highlights a Survation poll of 1,031 members of the British public conducted online last year, where 62% of respondents endorsed the PREVENT Strategy. Of course, this says little about the public view of PREVENT given there is no way of ascertaining the small number of individuals and their knowledge of PREVENT. Indeed, as we shall see below, there is a strong opposition against PREVENT from diverse sectors of society.
Casey draws attention to the fact that “cities around the world” are now “promoting integration and countering extremism (CVE) is high on the agenda”. Of course, what this neatly omits is the harsh academic critiques of CVE programmes, as well as the growing transnational, grassroots resistance to it. Continuing this whitewash of PREVENT, Casey describes the work being done to deliver PREVENT programmes as “impressive and heartening”. She further states that “most of the teachers” in three different areas she visited “had a positive perspective on the training around radicalisation”. Again, what is conveniently ignored is that literally hundreds of academics have challenged the flawed theory of PREVENT, highlighted that it is demonising the Muslim minority and is having a “chilling effect” on open debate and free speech. This is on top of the opposition from the National Union of Students, the National Union of Teachers, and now doctors (and here) against PREVENT.
The Spin at times borders on the ridiculous. At one point, Casey claims that those who oppose PREVENT “do not appear to have any constructive alternative proposals for tackling terrorism”. There is an assumption here that PREVENT is about tackling terrorism. PREVENT is understood by academics as not about tackling terrorism, but restructuring thought. This supposed inability to proffer alternatives means that the “life chances of British Muslims” are not being improved, but rather it is making them,
“…feel even more alienated and isolated – and therefore more vulnerable to extremists and radicalisers.”
Placing aside the supremely rich, hypocrisy-laden discourse contained within a supremacist, neo-racist and Islamophobic Review on improving the “the life chances of British Muslims”, it is the lack of “constructive proposals” that is causing Muslims to be isolated and therefore vulnerable to “extremism”. In this spectacular display of logical chasms, no evidence is presented to substantiate this claim. What these set of statements do, however, is have the effect of suppressing criticism of PREVENT by effectively rendering it a cause of people becoming vulnerability to “extremism”. It also trivialises genuine grievances emanating from unjust state policies.
Mimicking the neocon line of argument, Casey claims those critical of PREVENT have “deliberately distorted and exaggerated cases” which show that teachers, implementing their PREVENT understanding, have acted disproportionately. Casey then uses two such cases. The first has come to be known as the “terrorist house case”. The Review makes the following assessment:
“In fact, the pupil had also written that “I hate it when my uncle hits me”. The teacher quite appropriately and acting in the best interests of the child, therefore raised a concern. A social worker and neighbourhood police officer then visited the family and concluded that no further action was required. No referral to Prevent was ever made. No Prevent officers were involved and Lancashire Police rightly maintain that they and the school acted responsibly and proportionately in looking into a number of concerns, using a low key and sensitive approach”.
However, had Casey bothered to actually speak to the family as part of “investigations” for the Review rather than regurgitate neoconservative propaganda, she would have found a different account, which supports the initial media coverage of the incident. In fact, BBC Radio 5 live conducted an entire programme on the incident, interviewing the affected child. It makes it clear that a social worker along with a police officer barged into the house and interrogated a frightened, crying child with nearly all the questions related to terrorism, and only one discussing the uncle. Pertinently, this has occurred in a post-PREVENT age.
Has there been wilful distortion of the case? It seems it is Casey who has spun the facts of the case.
A similar approach is taken to the “eco-terrorism” case, where a child was removed some days later for using the words “eco-terrorism” (he had learned the terms from the school’s extracurricular debating club). He was made to sit before a child protection officer with another adult behind him due to the French teacher raising a “safety concern” with them. Here he was seemingly mocked by them before subsequently being asked whether he had any affiliation with ISIS. The Review responds to this case by using secretive information provided by the Home Office, which has no publicly available reference thus preventing verification. This matters greatly, especially in light of the recent exposure that the Henry Jackson Society has indeed been providing the Home Office with biased material. The Review, based on this unverified, secretive information from the Home Office, proceeds to claim that the child was not taken out of the class. This directly conflicts with the detailed account from the family reproduced on the PREVENT Watch website. To further discredit the draconian impact of PREVENT on children, the Review highlights a failed judicial action by the parents which focussed on the PREVENT Duty itself, as opposed to the impact on the child. However, this strawman provides a convenient deflection to the fact that it is the climate created by PREVENT which resulted in the targeting of the Muslim child. Casey also ignores a plethora of cases in which PREVENT referrals did take place on spurious grounds.
The PR campaign for PREVENT continues with particular messaging which has become staple amongst PREVENT activists: PREVENT is safeguarding. I have comprehensively deconstructed this spin in a previous blog, both from historic and safeguarding perspectives. As per Tuck (2016), the aim of PREVENT is a not “countering existential threats to the state” but “restructuring of worldviews” and countering “perceived threat to British identity”. In other words, the aim of PREVENT is not much different to the Casey Review.
It is interesting to note the critical contention which has not been addressed in the Review. CAGE’s report, which demonstrated that PREVENT was scientifically baseless and its broad implementation far outreached whatever miniscule evidence-base there was, is noticeable by its absence. Then again, Casey, as is now well-known, is averse to evidence-based policy.
In the next part, the disturbing way in which the Review seeks to control thought and ideas and forge a radical form of nationalism will be elucidated and its implication for all Britons outlined.
 Casey, L., The Casey Review – A Review into Opportunity and Integration, Para. 5.8, Accessed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/574565/The_Casey_Review.pdf
 Ibid. Para. 1.11
 Ibid. Para. 9.16
 Ibid. Para. 9.17
 Ibid. Para. 9.19
 Ibid. Para. 10.18
 Ibid. Para. 5.9
 Ibid. Para. 10.40
 Ibid. Para. 10.24
 Ibid. Para. 10.26
 Ibid. Para. 10.31
 Ibid. Para. 10.33
 Ibid. Para. 10.34-36
 Ibid. Footnote 311 and 312
 Ibid. Para. 10.39