Another day of the Tory conference, more of the usual.
Then the Theresa May speech bought up something new, or perhaps I should say something old, returned from the dead to terrify the living once more. After having a good go at the Lib dems for refusing to give ground on proposed data retention laws a while ago we hear a new Conservative government will give the police the powers they need to keep us safe.
This is just the latest declaration by the Tories that they are having a serious go at introducing a police state if they win the next election. That’s ridiculous you say, I’m just being paranoid.
Well yes but that doesn’t make me wrong.
Let’s look at the things we have heard over the last few days.
Firstly the PM, Cameron was giving a speech at the UN where he said the following:
We must be clear: to defeat the ideology of extremism we need to deal with all forms of extremism not just violent extremism.
Non-violent extremism is just as dangerous as terrorism and must be eradicated using all means at the government's disposal.
Then we have this statement:
We are in the middle of a generational struggle against a deadly extremist ideology. We will be engaged in this struggle for many years, probably decades. We must give ourselves all the legal powers we need to prevail.
Then we have the Extremist Asbo form Mz May.
I am looking again at the case for new banning orders for extremist groups that fall short of the legal threshold for terrorist proscription, as well as for new civil powers to target extremists who seek to radicalise others.
The new Extremist Civil Orders would contain wide-ranging restrictions on individuals who undertake to spread, incite or justify hatred against people on grounds of race, religion, sexual orientation or disability or for the purpose of overthrowing democracy
The restrictions are expected to include banning individuals from speaking at public events, protests or meetings, informing the police in advance of any public event, protest or meeting that they plan to attend, and banning individuals from particular public locations.
May also wants to include restrictions on banned individuals from broadcasting, from associating with named people, and restricting their use of social media or the internet by requiring them to submit in advance any proposed publication to the police.
So far she has been justifying this as an effort to stop Islamic Extremists such as ISIS. But Cameron and May have both said non violent extremists and Cameron specifically mentioned the 9/11 and 7/7 truthers. If you are not familiar with those two groups they believe that both were inside jobs by the respective governments in order to justify the war on terror and increased security.
Now both of them are talking about Extremists and since they are now talking about both violent AND non violent extremists we need to look at what an extremist is since they are all counted as the same thing by the Tories.
A person who favours or resorts to immoderate, uncompromising, or fanatical methods or behaviour, characterized by immoderate or excessive actions, opinions, etc
A person who holds extreme political or religious views, especially one who advocates illegal, violent, or other extreme action.
One who advocates or resorts to measures beyond the norm, especially in politics.
There are a number of definitions and they are all fairly broad. When you consider that Cameron and May are talking about people who hold extreme views in Religion or politics, say extreme things or support extreme groups you should begin to see just how widely this description can be spread. Given that they are looking at anyone who has an extreme view on race, religion, sexual orientation or disability or for the purpose of overthrowing democracy you are looking at probably millions of people.
Strongly oppose Gay marriage, tell people who do not share your religion they will burn in hell, vote UKIP, be a member of the EDL or BNP. Are you strongly socialist or think democracy doesn’t work, a monarchist who wants a return to being ruled by the queen or any of a thousand other views.
Then you are an extremist by the broad stroke of the possible definition and therefore vulnerable to Mays extremist ASBO. Oh and you can go to prison for breaking it so talking to your friends down the pub about what you think of immigrants and you could end up with a criminal record.
Am I being ridiculous?
Well ask yourself a question. Can you trust the Tories or Labour or the Lib Dems to not let things get that bad. What about councils, after all when social services can refuse to allow you to adopt because you vote UKIP do you honestly think they will hesitate to use new powers to act against anyone they don’t like.
Then we come to some more statements made by Theresa May that included such gems as:
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.
Targeted not just at so-called hate preachers but also those who sought to “disrupt the democratic process” and “undermine democracy.
So both policies, banning orders and extremism disruption orders‚ will be in the next Conservative manifesto
Part of a widening of the government’s counter-terrorism strategy, the Home Office will soon, for the first time, assume responsibility for a new counter-extremism strategy that goes beyond terrorism.
Aim to eliminate all forms of extremism‚ including neo-Nazism and Islamist extremism. In particular, it would confront the culture of bullying and intimidation
Well well. That’s a lot and as she said herself, it’s a crisis in national security, children were at risk.
But read the above again and ask a few questions. Such as what does she mean by people ‘who stay within the law’ or ‘fall short of the existing laws’. Does that mean going after people who have actually broken no law, putting them under an Extremist ASBO and sending them to prison for breaking the ASBO when they have done nothing to break UK law.
Surely if the Law does not cover something it is the duty of MPs to amend the law to bring it up to date. .
Under what circumstances is it acceptable in a civilised democracy to have a home secretary who thinks it is acceptable to ban people from attending public events or accessing the internet when they have done NOTHING to break UK law.
Yes I understand that this is being done for the public intention of fighting Islamic extremists and recruiters for ISIS. But it will do no such thing, instead it will be spread far and wide to catch huge numbers of people who happen to hold views that are a bit far from the political or religious centre.
Who defines ‘poisonous hatred’ or ‘all forms of extremism’. Would that be Mz May and her lackeys, or perhaps the crown prosecution service, any judge that is asked, the local councils, your local mayor or anyone else that is in authority over us.
Then we come the Snoopers Charter, part two, The Return from the grave’
The next Conservative government will give the police the powers they need to keep us safe after those outrageous irresponsible Lib Dems sunk the Communications Data Bill last time.
This was bought in to fight terrorists and extremists several years ago before it was dropped.
It was rushed through a short while ago as Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014, remember the panic to get it done in a few days without anyone being able to read it. Its not yet been passed the royal assent bit to become Law, well I'm thinking it will soon.
Now it’s rising once again but this time the definition of extremists is a lot wider. So the Communications bill which is intended to provide the security services and other authorised organisations with the intelligence they need to monitor and act against extremists will now include non violent extremists and anyone the government thinks has extreme views or attitudes.
Our home secretary is publicly talking about imposing legal restrictions on what can be said in public or online, where people can go or who they can meet for people who HAVE BROKEN NO UK LAWS and now is telling us that the Tories will give the police the powers they need to deal with extremists and the definition of the extremists is now much wider and more far reaching.
The communications data bill was rightly attacked by just about everyone who had an understanding of what it was and how open to abuse it would be, not to mention how much of a step it was towards an unaccountable police state.
But the old bill was a mere warm up to the main act which is before us now. Violent, non violent, all the same thing. Any extremist view or opinion and you are on the list to be monitored or worse.
So,am I paranoid and wrong. Or am I paranoid and right?