Are you an extremist?

IssueDecember 2014 - January 2015
News by David Polden

At the 2014 Tory party conference, home secretary Theresa May announced that the Conservative election manifesto for the 2015 election will pledge the introduction of banning orders for extremist groups and ‘extremism disruption orders’ for extremists who ‘who stay just within the law but still spread poisonous hatred’.

But what is an ‘extremist’? David Cameron said Conservatives want to look at the ‘full spectrum of extremism’ and not just the ‘hard end’. Thus the policy 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’.

The banning orders include making it a criminal offence to be a member of or raise funds for a group that ‘spreads or promotes hatred’.

Threat to democracy

An ‘extremism disruption order’ would involve the police applying to the high court for an order to restrict an individual’s ‘harmful activities’. The definition of harmful will include a risk of public disorder or risk of causing harassment, alarm or distress or a ‘threat to the functioning of democracy’.

The restrictions could 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, as well as associating with specific people.

So how much do you have to upset people or be seen as a threat by the powers-that-be in order to be deemed an extremist and have your democratic rights restricted? And this in the name of defending democracy!

Topics: Civil liberties