What are Theresa May’s new ‘extremism disruption orders’?
The home secretary’s manifesto plan to silence extremists by banning their access to the web and television is cast far wider than the Islamist “preachers of hate” of tabloid headlines. As David Cameron pointed out, the Conservatives now want to look at the “full spectrum of extremism” and not just the “hard end” of that spectrum that counter-terrorism policy has focused on up to now.
The difference is spelled out in the detail of the policy, where it says that it is intended to catch not just those who “spread or incite hatred” on grounds of gender, race or religion but also those who undertake “harmful activities” for the “purpose of overthrowing democracy”.
This is an area fraught with difficulties that could see non-violent political activists in all sorts of areas deemed to be “anti-democratic”. The Conservatives already say that the policy would catch neo-Nazis, raising questions about whether the EDL or the BNP would be banned under the measure. But the official definition of non-violent extremism is already wide-ranging and, as Big Brother Watch has pointed out, the national extremism database already includes the names of people who have done little more than organise meetings on environmental issues.
So what would an “extremism disruption order” involve? The police will be able to apply to the high court for an order to restrict the “harmful activities” of an extremist individual. The definition of harmful is to include a risk of public disorder or even a risk of harassment, alarm or distress or the vague-sounding “threat to the functioning of democracy”. These are very low thresholds. The restrictions would include a ban on broadcasting and a requirement to submit to the police in advance any proposed publication on the web, social media or in print. Taking part in public protests or speaking at any public event would also be banned. It is no wonder the Liberal Democrats blocked the plan’s immediate introduction on free speech grounds.
How could a broadcast ban work? Between 1988 and 1994 Sinn Féin’s Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness were banned by Margaret Thatcher from the airwaves to “deny them the oxygen of publicity”. The broadcasters used actors to speak their words to get around the ban. In the case of Adams, the actor Stephen Rea was often used to voice his words. The effect was that the public quickly came to think that Rea’s voice was that of Adams. John Major abandoned the restrictions in 1994 after he became prime minister.
NWN: Just who are the 'extremists ? The extremists are the 'establishment' like the current Tory Government. They are the one's who have destroyed British industry and created mass unemployment. That is extreme.They are the one's who have given our sovereign powers to the scourge known as the EC. That is extreme.They are the one's who have flooded our country with foreigners. That is extreme.
They are the one's who have imposed the extreme austerity economic policies that have cut public spending so that our infrastructure is in near total collapse. Look at the state of the roads ! They have driven people to their deaths by forcing even the disabled to grave poverty insisting they are 'fit for work'.
It is the 'establishment parties' that seem to want eternal wars for Israel. Cameron following the 'New World Order' policies now, and Tony Blair before him. The latest war against ISIS, who many say is a CIA/Israeli operation, is nothing more than a way to attack Syria and ultimately Russia, possibly provoking a World war. Now if that is not extreme ?
The establishment parties are 'extreme' - extremely bad
for Britain !