From the Joint Select Committee report:
“The Government should reconsider its counter extremism strategy, use the existing extensive legal framework for dealing with people who promote violence, and introduce new legislation only if it can demonstrate a significant gap.”
They echo the concerns I had expressed some time ago, some quotes from their report:
“No clear definition of extremism”
“The difference in wording suggests a degree of confusion and, in either event, these definitions are couched in such general terms that they are likely to prove unworkable as a legislative definition. In particular, the extent to which lack of “mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs” could or should be deemed unlawful is likely to prove deeply contentious.”
“The aim should be to tackle extremism that leads to violence, not to suppress views with which the Government disagrees.”
“The legal issues that we have examined are so problematic that we consider that it would serve no purpose to have a further general consultation. If the Government wishes to take forward these proposals it must bring forward a draft Bill. It is plain that a consultation which does not provide a clear legal definition of what is meant by extremism would be futile. “
To put it in simpler terms, it is not possible to “combat non-violent extremism” without abandoning our most important liberty – freedom of speech. A great deal of the government’s time is being wasted establishing this patently obvious fact.
Is this enough to sink the strategy though? Could be embarrassing for the government. Theresa May’s government. How did we end up with this person as our Prime Minister?