Britain’s thought police

Catherine Bennett writes: From Monday, universities must comply, if necessary subject to a court order, with “Prevent duty guidance” on monitoring extremism. The latter being defined, for anyone unclear on what they should be either exposing, or pre-emptively eradicating, as “vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs”.

One example of extremism, vocalised before he became shadow chancellor, might be John McDonnell’s comment on Margaret Thatcher; that he wished he could go back and kill her. Another might be this, vocalised by a former member of the pan-Islamic Hizb-ut-Tahrir: “We as Muslims reject the idea of freedom of speech.”

For “it is not about oppressing free speech or stifling academic freedom”, Mr Cameron promises of his new regulations. “It is about making sure that radical views and ideas are not given the oxygen they need to flourish.” Stifle, verb: “to kill by depriving of oxygen”.

The justification for this exercise turns out, on his part, to be about producing a list of troublemakers and institutions and hoping nobody spots a distinct lack of rigour in asserting a causal connection between attending a UK university and going on to threaten, or take lives. Eight named terrorist offenders, we learn, had been to UK universities.

Not a huge body of evidence, you might think, recalling Britain’s estimated 700 jihadist volunteers. [Continue reading…]

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