underplaying the far-right proves prevent is political

Prevent is proving the ugly truth about the government and the far-right

The government has already subverted any independence of the official review of Prevent by appointing William Shawcross as its head and by the long delays in the release of the report.

In the meantime, they have been pressing ahead with changes to Prevent. We will detail a few of these before returning to the issue of right-wing extremism.

The first is the refocusing of the Home Office on Prevent in its security aspects. This is indicated by the closure of the Building a Stronger Britain Together programme, and the concentration of community cohesion activities in the Department for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities, where Sarah Khan was appointed in March 2021 as an independent adviser. 

Khan was formerly the head of the Commission for Countering Extremism in the Home Office. An interim head of the CCE, Robin Simcox, was appointed in March 2021.

Simcox has strong links with neo-conservative and far-right think tanks. His first announcement was the need to redefine the policy toward right-wing extremism to distinguish far-right groups who operated within the law which, he claimed, were part of normal democratic politics.

However, in the period since his appointment, the commission has been largely inactive, judging by its recently published annual report

So, what will the role of the new CCE be? Sunak’s statement that there should be a “weeding out” of charities and organisations that supported extremism provides a clue.

As does a recent report from Policy Exchange recommends that its role should be “research into extremism, countering criticisms, and evaluating and providing certification for NGOs”.

Those NGOs that are not properly aligned should be denied public funding and engagement by government and local authorities alike.

Expectedly, their only targeted organisations are Muslim NGOs which they describe as “Islamist”, notwithstanding the express commitment by these NGOs to democratic and lawful means.

But the nature of democratic and lawful means is also in question. The new Public Order Bill and the creation of new criminal offences associated with extra-parliamentary action will create a new set of offences, and new offences create a widened penumbra of pre-criminal actions.

So, at the same time as there is an intention to refocus Prevent away from right-wing extremism, there is an expansion elsewhere to include more non-criminal, but – according to the state – pre-criminal acts.

This can only mean that the CCE is designed to function in a manner equivalent to George Orwell’s Ministry of Truth.

 

Read the full article on Middle East Eye.

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