by James Billot
Wednesday, 24
February 2021
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17:49

Cameron and Blair united against extremism? What could go wrong?

The two former PMs have given their blessing to a new terrorism report
by James Billot
The two former PMs have lent their support to the ‘Operating with impunity’ report

Extremists are gaining the upper hand” booms today’s Times editorial by Sara Khan, the commissioner to counter extremism and Sir Mark Rowley, former head of counter-terrorism policing. The pair argue that the UK should take a ‘tougher line on extremism’ with legislation that eliminates the gap in our laws between terrorism, which is already illegal, and extremist activity that ‘stops short of the definition of terrorism’.

The editorial is the latest in a long line of articles and think pieces calling for tougher action on online extremism. But what gives this one an added punch is that it has received the blessing of two former prime ministers, David Cameron and Tony Blair, and faith leaders including the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Chief Rabbi and the chairman of the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board.


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Readers are told breathlessly that this is a ‘watershed moment’ for the UK and the time for action is now. Which is all well and good — until we get into the murky details of what this actually entails. The two authors suggest that the only way to prevent extremists from ‘mockingly steering’ around the current legal framework is by setting:

A high legal bar based on: intent, evidence of serious or persistent behaviour, promoting a supremacist ideology, and activity that creates a climate conducive to terrorism, hate crime and violence contrary to the Human Rights Act [emphasis mine]
- Sara Khan & Sir Mark Rowley, The Times

There is no further detail as to what ‘intent’ or ‘creating a climate conducive to terrorism and hate crime ’ actually means. Nebulous terms like these are notoriously difficult to prove, and as the example of Big Tech has shown this year, once you start down this road, it tends to accelerate quickly.

But the emphasis on hate crimes (mentioned four times in the editorial) should serve as a cautionary tale for implementing any new measures. When the Guardian reported that hate crimes had risen year-on-year for five years, it vindicated activists and politicians who argued that post-Brexit Britain was a racist, bigoted country.

And yet, a closer inspection of the statistics revealed something quite different: that this was true only insofar as the number of recorded hate crimes rose. The Home Office itself wrote that the rise in hate crimes were mainly driven by ‘improvements in crime recording by the police,’ making it difficult to separate whether there has been a rise in actual incidents of hate crime versus reports. 

Instead, what has arisen out of this spate of hate crimes are a series of embarrassing mishaps for the police. Just this week, Merseyside Police apologised for a billboard reading “BEING OFFENSIVE IS AN OFFENCE”, which, as Dan Hitchens notes in a Post earlier this week, follows on from the Government’s national hate crime awareness campaign:“IT’S NOT JUST OFFENSIVE. IT’S AN OFFENCE.” Similarly, a couple of years before, Harry Miller was told by Humberside Police that he was responsible for a “hate incident” after a poem about trans people was deemed an offence.

These are two examples of many, and while the police are partially at fault, it is also indicative of the increasingly difficult nature of their remit. Creating and adding a ‘terrorist-adjacent’ category into the legal framework will only serve to make their jobs harder.

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Barry Coombes
Barry Coombes
1 year ago

If Blair and Cameron are in favour of something, you know it must be wrong.

G Worker
G Worker
1 year ago

These moral monsters are trying to follow the thieving Democrats who are painting the opposition to their hateful future for America as “white supremacism” and “domestic terrorism”. For Blair and Cameron – ideological progressives, internationalists, and globalists – it is the naturalistic, defensive nationalism of the English people which has to be stamped out, so that Deracinated Man may ascend to his place in permanent, dull-witted service to the elites.

Frederick B
Frederick B
1 year ago
Reply to  G Worker

Well said

Brian Dorsley
Brian Dorsley
1 year ago
Reply to  G Worker

I would also add ‘Emasculated Man’ to that too. Almost every expression of masculinity is being shut down.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
1 year ago

‘When the Guardian reported that hate crimes had risen year-on-year for five years,’
I hate the Guardian. Is that a crime? (There was a time when I purchased the Guardian on a very regular basis, I might add).
That aside, this is just more muppetry.




Kate H. Armstrong
Kate H. Armstrong
1 year ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

More attempts at relevance by two self-interested anti-white, anti-British, self-serving egotists. I too purchased the Guardian “on a very regular basis” for many years. Then I suppose, I grew up, and realised their position on too many important issues was detrimental to traditional British values (e.g. patriotism, free speech, and rational intellectual Enlightenment). Likely read too much Orwell, Huxley and Ray Bradbury in my developing years!!

Nick Whitehouse
Nick Whitehouse
1 year ago

What actually is a hate crime?
Was it a racist hate crime when Cameron promised to enact the referendum result and then ran away when mainly the English voted leave?
Blair and his 45 mins for Iraq to blitz London was very close to a hate crime against Iraq?
Am I allowed to hate two old failed politicians telling what to do & what to think?

Bob Green
Bob Green
1 year ago

I blame everyone who thinks that they know best and have to interfere, the prerequisite for wanting to become a politician.
For the most part systems evolve in an appropriate way and are best left alone to eventually reach the best possible outcome.

Warren Alexander
Warren Alexander
1 year ago

Just more moralising nonsense from tired old men desperate for some attention.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
1 year ago

No, it is much, much, more than that, it strikes right at the heart of our society and rule of law, Justice, Freedom, Rights, everything really. This is the new dawn being pushed on us, and it is a terrifying one.

Albireo Double
Albireo Double
1 year ago

Blair and Cameron don’t seem to have quite grasped the 2021 zeitgeist. Sorry chaps, the tide’s turned, and it’s starting to go the other way now. Careful you don’t get stranded, eh?

Last edited 1 year ago by Albireo Double
Martin Price
Martin Price
1 year ago

There is no requirement for any proof of a hate crime to be examined in the courts for it to be recorded as such. Only a complaint. The legislation is rotten and if it does anything is sows division through media articles such as this Times piece. It also spurns a growing industry of (very loud) vested interest groups.

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
1 year ago

Blair and Cameron are the UK’s most violent extremists this century. Their violence is surely indisputable. Their extremism manifested in their contempt for international law, the United Nations, UK Parliament and electorate, and most of all the people of Iraq and Libya. Both wars were basically built on a pack of lies, which constituted their ideological justification for extreme violence – with extreme consequences. Yet not so much as an ASBO for these depraved and dangerous gangsters.

Last edited 1 year ago by Ian Perkins
Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
1 year ago

What influence does either of them have these days? Whatever they are for or against, they seem past their relevance date.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
1 year ago

Now is surely not the time to allow vague definitions of “hate-based crime”
The current “woke stasi” will be able to bend this lack of clarity into pretty much anything they want.
Ironically, It seems that much of the current “hate crime” comes from those who openly paint white folk as intrinsically racist.
So many people are forced to notice “colour’ now, when a few years ago they were happy being (MLK) colour blind.
Hard to see how anyone is safe from prosecution ….

Peter Scott
Peter Scott
1 year ago

A point – please pardon its obviousness – about former prime ministers intervening in political and social debate. –
They had their time in office in which they could have made a big difference to the way their country thinks, moves, has it being.
Either they succeeded in radically improving this modus vivendi; in which case they do not need to wield influence any longer..
Or they failed; in which case they have no standing ground for being listened to. (If a plumber or electrician proves a fiasco at sorting out your water or power requirements, why take advice from him on such topics any more?)
Even a great PM who (on nearly everyone’s reckoning) has done his country immense service ought to drop out of political debate after his retirement from office, because in retirement he has a freedom from constraints which his successor(s) may lack.
Former heads of government really ought to get a life and, so far as telling society what to do is concerned, shut up.
The fact that nowadays they don’t shut up (and yes, Treason May, we are also looking at you), tells us how little of an inner life they have and in consequence how little of an outer one.

rod tobin
rod tobin
1 year ago

being offensive is not an offence

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 year ago

What is a love crime?