By Rob Wedge
Today our Tory government gave fair warning of what it intends to do with its new term.
It says it will fast-track a string of new powers to tackle “radicalisation,” claiming the UK has been a “passively tolerant society” for too long.
Its new “counter-extremism bill” will include new powers to close down premises used by extremists and “extremism disruption orders”.
But hang on.
Whatever does our government mean by “extremism”?
How will we know if we’re being “extreme” and avoid ending up in the clink?
Well, the government defines extremism as being the “vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values.”
That sounds like replacing one dangerously vague definition with another.
I mean, what are “fundamental British values?”
Not being too much of a leftie, perhaps?
Saying the government shouldn’t invade another country?
Knowing the words of the Eton Boating Song?
Well, the government says British values include “democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, etc.”
Grand catch-all words which sound fine and dandy, but in a court of law could be stretched to mean whatever anyone wanted them to mean.
I mean, what is anti-British?
Is Thanet Watch magazine anti-British?
Some (very dodgy) folk say it is.
During the last election campaign Thanet Watch received through the post an anonymous, nasty little document riddled with lies, but also, in its weird way, very threatening.
Mostly attacking an organiser of the campaign group Thanet Stand Up To UKIP, it also found space to have a go at Thanet Watch.
The document says:
“In some ways it [Thanet Watch] resembles a community magazine, but closer inspection reveals it is anti-British.
“Go into Thanet newsagents and, if you see copies, try to slip a few UKIP leaflets inside, or, better yet, ask the newsagents if they are aware of what they are selling.”
Thanet Watch outlets were also sent copies of this nasty little document, and we have discovered cases where shop owners have been “talked to” by UKIP-minded characters.
At least one gave in to pressure to take the magazine off sale.
So what is anti-British about Thanet Watch magazine?
Read every page of every issue (if you already haven’t done so!).
You won’t find anything anti-British there.
Unless you count anti-British as being anti-UKIP.
So, Mr Cameron, please bear in mind that passing laws against people for being “anti-British” is a dangerous game.
Especially if all you mean by it is a group or individual who you don’t like the look of.