Plans for a new Counter-Extremism Bill topped the agenda at yesterday’s first meeting of the new National Security Council (NSC), chaired by Prime Minister David Cameron in Downing Street.
Putting British values at the heart of the new Government’s approach to tackling extremism, the Prime Minister set out his intention to prioritise new legislation that will make it much harder for people to promote dangerous extremist views in Britain’s communities.
The proposed legislative measures are part of a wider package, announced by Home Secretary Theresa May last March, which will be the foundation of this Conservative Government’s new partnership approach – bringing communities together to defeat extremism and create a better, more secure future for the whole country.
“For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens that as long as they obey the law, we will leave them alone,” stated David Cameron. “It’s often meant we have stood neutral between different values, and that has helped foster a narrative of extremism and grievance.”
The Prime Minister continued: “This Government will conclusively turn the page on that failed approach. As the party of one nation, we will govern as one nation and bring our country together. That means actively promoting certain values. Values like freedom of speech. Freedom of worship. Democracy. The rule of law. Equal rights regardless of race, gender or sexuality. We must say to our citizens: ‘This is what defines us as a society. To belong here is to believe in these things.’ It also means confronting head-on the poisonous Islamist extremist ideology. Whether they are violent in their means or not, we must make it impossible for the extremists to succeed.”
The new legislation is expected to include:
*introducing Banning Orders for extremist organisations who seek to undermine democracy or use hate speech in public places but fall short of proscription
*new Extremism Disruption Orders designed to restrict people who seek to radicalise young people
*powers to close premises where extremists seek to influence others
*strengthening the powers of the Charity Commission to root out charities who misappropriate funds towards extremism and terrorism
*further immigration restrictions on extremists
*a strengthened role for Ofcom to take action against channels broadcasting extremist content
Home Secretary Theresa May commented: “The twisted narrative of extremism cannot be ignored or wished away. This Government will challenge those who seek to spread hatred and intolerance by forming a new partnership of every single person and organisation in this country who wants to defeat the extremists.”
May went on to state: “We will introduce legislation to combat groups and individuals who reject our values and promote messages of hate. We will empower institutions to stand up against the extremists and challenge bigotry and ignorance. We will also support those who are fighting back against extremism online.”
In a strong conclusion, the Home Secretary explained: “United by our values and the basic principles of our society, we’re determined to defeat extremism in all of its forms.”
*Read the report of the Prime Minister’s Extremism Task Force, which was published in December 2013