Is the liberal elite’s odd obsession with the Right helping to create a British Stasi?
A British Stasi is quietly growing in our midst. Powerful arms of government have begun to see it as their right and duty to snoop on conservative thought and speech, claiming it is in some way linked to ‘Right-wing extremism’. How long before the snooping turns into harassment?
We have seen, in the past few weeks, Big Brother Watch’s fascinating probe into British Government surveillance of dissenters over the state Covid policy.
Almost everyone is by now aware that the organisation formerly known as ‘the police’ are now a radical Left-wing body, flyers of the rainbow flag, very ready to pounce on traditional street preachers or on social-media posters who don’t play along with the sexual and transgender revolution.
But there is a third pillar of this, which has bothered me for some time, and is now rightly troubling William Shawcross, a distinguished public servant. Mr Shawcross examined Prevent, a supposed counter-terrorism programme. And he noticed something very strange about it.
William Shawcross (pictured) writes: ‘Prevent must address all extremist ideologies proportionately according to the threat each represents. However, my research shows that the present boundaries around what is termed by Prevent as extremist Islamist ideology are drawn too narrowly – while the boundaries around the ideology of the extreme Right-wing are too broad. This does not allow Prevent to reflect accurately, and deal effectively with, the lethal risks we actually face’
Most people would probably agree that the most pressing danger of terrorism in modern Britain comes from fanatical Islamists, followers of Islamic State or Al Qaeda.
But, as Mr Shawcross notes, Prevent has something close to an obsession with what it calls ‘Right-wing extremism’.
He writes: ‘Prevent must address all extremist ideologies proportionately according to the threat each represents. However, my research shows that the present boundaries around what is termed by Prevent as extremist Islamist ideology are drawn too narrowly – while the boundaries around the ideology of the extreme Right-wing are too broad. This does not allow Prevent to reflect accurately, and deal effectively with, the lethal risks we actually face.’
He adds: ‘Prevent has a double standard when dealing with the extreme Right-wing and Islamism. Prevent takes an expansive approach to the extreme Right-wing, capturing a variety of influences that, at times, has been so broad it has included mildly controversial or provocative forms of mainstream, Right-wing leaning commentary that have no meaningful connection to terrorism or radicalisation. However, with Islamism, Prevent tends to take a much narrower approach centred around proscribed organisations.’
Mr Shawcross looked at reports from Prevent’s Research, Information and Communications Unit (RICU) and found ‘one RICU analysis product from 2020 on Right-wing terrorist and extremist activity online which referenced books by mainstream British conservative commentators as “key cultural nationalist ideological texts”. The same document listed “key texts” for white nationalists as including historic works of the Western philosophic and literary canon’.
Another RICU document ‘listed a prominent Conservative politician and former member of the government as being among figures “associated with far-Right sympathetic audiences, and Brexit” ’.
There are no doubt some nutcase neo-Nazis in this country, like the much-pierced and heavily tattooed man who taught his poor dog to do the Hitler salute and was fined £800, or the couple who called their child Adolf and kept a pastry-cutter in the shape of a swastika in their kitchen, along with crossbows and machetes. They were sent to prison for quite a while. The keystone of this wobbly arch of ‘Right-wing extremism’ is the miserable figure of Thomas Mair, who murdered the much-loved and much-missed Jo Cox MP during the 2016 referendum campaign.
The criminal justice system, increasingly infiltrated by Leftist dogma, seems to have resolved that Mair was a political actor, to the exclusion of anything else.
Plainly Mair did the savage crime and ought to be locked up. But it matters greatly what he is locked up for. This was a man who went about the streets wearing Marigold gloves and tried to wash his own skin with Brillo pads.
PETER HITCHENS: The keystone of this wobbly arch of ‘Right-wing extremism’ is the miserable figure of Thomas Mair (pictured), who murdered the much-loved and much-missed Jo Cox MP during the 2016 referendum campaign. The criminal justice system, increasingly infiltrated by Leftist dogma, seems to have resolved that Mair was a political actor, to the exclusion of anything else
ITV news reported on November 23, 2016, that ‘Mair suffered from mental health issues for much of his life and had volunteered with a mental health charity near his home in Birstall. But details of his health records were ruled inadmissible at his trial after the judge said his mental health was not relevant to the murder of Jo Cox’.
How can it not have been relevant? There is, in fact, scant evidence that Mair had been in touch with any political group, though he seems to have bought and perhaps read some Neo-Nazi publications.
Crazy people often attach themselves to political causes, or to major religions, to make themselves seem more important. But we are wise if we do not take this too seriously.
I believe the Mair case has been treated in this way because parts of our elite genuinely think that there is a ‘Right-wing extremist’ threat and wish to mobilise the police, the courts and MI5 against it. Where will this go, and where will it end?
William Shawcross has rightly warned that things have gone amiss. But will this Government heed him and what would a Starmer government do? It is extremely difficult to get anyone to worry about this development. Will we find out too late that it matters?