Much commentary has been written on the Counter-Extremism Bill. The journalist Dilly Hussain has done a comprehensive article addressing the key points of the Bill. CAGE has published a blog which neatly highlights the excessive, hypocritical, dangerous and completely unnecessary nature of the proposals. The organisation has further published a point by point breakdown of whatever ambiguous information has been thus far provided.
There are few articles which delve into the noxious nature of the Extremism measures on this blog too:
A Critical Overview of the Counter Extremism Strategy
Counter Extremism Strategy “Really is Counter-Islamic Strategy”
On Extremism Disruption Orders
Will the UK Government’s Counter-Extremism Programme Criminalise Dissent? (Arun Kundnani)
In this blog, I would like to elucidate some additional noteworthy points and arguments on the measures. I will also focus on other proposals, which seem at first to be disconnected to the Extremism Bill, yet also foster the neoconservative closed society.
Crosspost: Professor Arun Kundnani
From 1 July, a broad range of public bodies – from nursery schools to optometrists – will be legally obliged to participate in the government’s Prevent policy to identify would-be extremists. Under the fast-tracked Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015, schools, universities and health service providers can no longer opt out of monitoring students and patients for supposed radicalised behaviour. Never in peacetime Britain has national security surveillance been so deeply embedded in the normal functioning of public life.
Even as those measures come into effect, the government is drafting another round of counter-terrorist legislation, reviving a set of still more authoritarian proposals first floated last year.
Theresa May has announced new civil orders which will target not only “hate-preachers”, but also those who sought to “disrupt the democratic process” and “undermine democracy”. That automatically applies to Britain, with its continued support for autocratic regimes which fund and support the coups of democratically elected governments.
Democracy of course presupposes government scrutiny, human rights and pluralism, and “extremism” which she is referring to is defined by the PREVENT strategy as opposing “British values”, such human rights and the rule of law. In the past I have demonstrated how Theresa May is an extremist in her war against human rights, the European of Court of Human Rights, and in her undermining the rule of law.
Rule of Law?
Her onslaught on the rule of law has continued with the latest sanctioning of herself. The late 19th century British jurist and constitutional legist, AV Dicey is often cited in the discourse of rule of law articulates the particulars of rule of law in his classic text The Law of Constitution (1835) one of the components includes the notion that no man can be punished or interfered with except for breaches of the law. Theresa May states,
“I want to see new banning orders for extremist groups that fall short of the existing laws relating to terrorism. I want to see new civil powers to target extremists who stay within the law but still spread poisonous hatred..”
In other words because individuals cannot be criminally prosecuted, the rule of law is being diluted to indirectly criminalise people not liked by the likes of Theresa May, Harrys Place, the Henry Jackson Society and neocon bigot Michael Gove through the use of civil law. She herself, is violating the rule of law.
Criminal procedure maintains the protection against the state through presumptions of innocence, the “beyond reasonable doubt” standard of proof and the inadmissibility of hearsay evidence. By circumventing this initial criminal procedure and going through the civil courts, such protections are not afforded. If the civil order is breached then you can be criminally sanctioned. Given the breadth of the definition of extremism, the historic abuse of PREVENT (see here, Concluding Remarks) and in particular its ambiguity, wrongful punishment is all too easy.