I told you so… Conservative’s New Extremism Distruption Orders
“Theresa May will also announce that the Conservative manifesto will contain pledges to introduce banning orders for extremist groups and extremism disruption orders for extremists who spread hate but do not break existing laws.” Conservative briefing note.
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.
This story, which came to light in September 2014, is given additional weight when on 23rd March 2015, The Telegraph reported:
Authorities should be allowed to issue banning orders on extremist groups to stop them spreading “messages of hate” even if they fall short of being defined as terrorists, Mrs May said.
“We will introduce extremism disruption orders, which are civil powers to be used against individual extremists who incite hatred. And we will introduce closure orders, for premises that are owned or occupied by extremists or are used to host extremist meetings or speakers,” she added.
Mrs May also called for a host of reviews into both the way extremism is policed and promoted.
The rhetoric is tangled up in baloney concerning “Islamic extremism,” “honour crimes,” “female genital mutilation,” “forced marriage,” “British values [Ha!],” and the like, but it is clear that any and all dissent pertaining to our hostile “democratic” occupation is to be targeted.
Modern democratic politics represents the Right wing and the Left wing of the monstrous and ravenous dragon that is our neo-communist occupation. The pressure to survive is about to increase…