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Security and Extremism Blogs
Three times this week sections of the M25 have been closed by activists from the Insulate Britain group, demanding government take responsibility for insulating all social housing by 2025, and re-fitting all houses with low energy heating by 2030. The protests certainly succeeded in provoking a reaction. Video footage of angry motorists scuffling with demonstrators and being ordered back to their trapped cars by police offices soon went viral, as did a recording of an officer telling activists if they felt any discomfort, or needed anything, they only had to ask for assistance. Some columnists have blamed protestors for a crash which occurred in Surrey on Wednesday morning, although that incident remains under investigation.
This was a good news week for the City and for the UK’s levelling up agenda. Nissan’s announcement of a significant investment in Sunderland was an important moment. Not just in terms of the jobs it will safeguard and create, but also given the specific and numerous warnings made regarding the company’s future during the Referendum. It was a watershed moment, further showing that Project Fear has not materialised and that now is the time to look ahead to recognise the immense policy focus that is needed to ensure strong, sustained growth.
Should groups of campaigners have a veto over certain public appointments? Presumably, most of us would say no. Yet this is effectively what is now being attempted as part of a boycott campaign opposing the appointment of William Shawcross as independent reviewer of Prevent; the national counter-radicalisation programme.
Following the latest attack in Westminster and another planned against Oxford Street, Professor Richard Ekins, Head of Policy Exchange’s Judicial Power Project, reiterates the need to update our law of treason.
The first report produced by the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, Max Hill QC, reveals a worrying tendency to engage with – and take at face value – a small minority of Islamist-influenced groups, rather than with the broad diversity of Britain’s Muslim communities. Policy Exchange’s Dr Martyn Frampton argues that these groups represent only a small fraction of British Muslims, yet Hill seems all too ready to accept their bona fides and treat their views as authoritative and representative.
The reaction to the appointment of Sara Khan as lead Commissioner for Countering Extremism has shown that Islamist narratives are still accorded too much prominence in national debates. Policy Exchange’s Hannah Stuart cautions politicians, officials and journalists who mistakenly give voice to Islamists claiming to speak on behalf of all Muslims.
Last week, Chuka Umunna spoke to Chatham House in a much-needed intervention on the state of British foreign policy.
In recent years, the British foreign policy debate has not kept up with the pace of global political and economic change. For that reason alone, there was much to commend in Umunna’s sense of urgency. To adapt to the challenges of the twenty-first century, as he put it, “we need to look ahead and develop a proper national strategy on the basis of a clear understanding of what our interests are”.
Alistair Burt, the Foreign Office Minister, has been engaging with political Islamists during his recent tour of the Middle East. Sir John Jenkins — former British Ambassador to Saudi Arabia and co-author of the Government’s Muslim Brotherhood Review of 2015 — looks at the lamentable historical record of such attempts at outreach, what to expect from them and how they could be improved.
Hannah Stuart — Co-head of Policy Exchange’s Security and Extremism unit — analyses the High Court’s rejection of a legal challenge against the government’s counter-radicalisation strategy, Prevent, and its delivery IN higher education institutions. She explains why the ruling ‘highlights issues that are central not only to tackling terrorism in the UK, but also to challenging the extremist ideologies used to legitimise terrorism’.
Trojan Horse: ‘If anyone is still in any doubt that the practices uncovered were inappropriate, just listen to the pupils’
Hannah Stuart (Co-Head of Policy Exchange’s Security and Extremism Unit) and John Blake (Head of Education and Social Reform) look at the latest developments on the Trojan Horse affair.