Conservative Cabinet members speak out against May's counter-extremism plans
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Friday May 22 2015
The Guardian publishes a letter from the former Culture Secretary, Sajid Javid, protesting at aspects of the counter-extremism speech delivered by Theresa May in March, ahead of the dissolution of Parliament, the bulk of which is expected to be included in the Queen’s Speech setting out the new legislative agenda.
The proposals, which include plans for “extremism disruption orders”, “banning orders” and powers of intervention to prevent “harmful activities” which could pose a “threat to the functioning of democracy”, have already been criticised as tantamount of a new “Cold War” against British Muslims.
The Guardian publishes the letter setting out reservations about the proposed restrictions to free speech envisaged by May’s plans expressed by the Culture Secretary.
In the letter, Javid criticises the restrictions as amounting to “censorship” arising from “pre-emptive action”, the like of which is commonly associated with more authoritarian regimes.
“Extending Ofcom’s powers to enable it to take pre-emptive action would move it from its current position as a post-transmisson regulator into the role of censor. This would involve a fundamental shift in the way UK broadcasting is regulated, away from the current framework which is designed to take appropriate account of the right to freedom of expression”.
The Guardian, soon after the election, noted the role of the Liberal Democrats in resisting some of the draconian powers sought by the Home Secretary. The Financial Times, at the time of the speech in March, highlighted the objections raised by no less than six other Conservative Cabinet colleagues, aside from Javid. These were Greg Clark, Chris Grayling, Eric Pickles, Nicky Morgan, Theresa Villiers and Stephen Crabbe.
It will be interesting to see what impact these objections have on the plans that will be outlined in the Queen’s Speech next week and on what is likely to be a fraught exercise in the Bill’s passage.