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Westlake Legal Group > Extremism

Martin Parsons: What is the point of the Commission for Countering Extremism?

Last year, the Government set up the Commission for Countering Extremism with a remit to “identify and challenge extremism in all its forms and provide the government with advice on the policies needed to tackle it.  And a few days ago, the Commission duly published its first major report: Challenging Hateful Extremism.

‘Extremism’ is a word that was little used in either the UK or USA prior to the 9/11 attacks. Look at political biographies of the post-war era, and you will see it occasionally used to refer to those at one of end of the mainstream political spectrum. In the pre-Thatcher era, it was actually used to describe those with the temerity to challenge the so-called ‘post-war consensus’ of a partly nationalised economy.

After 9/11, first in the USA, and then in the UK under Tony Blair, it primarily came to refer to Islamist extremism, meaning those holding more extreme views than what was sometimes called ‘mainstream Islam’. However, not only did this approach ignore non-Islamist extremism, but there were two more fundamental problems with it.

First, it became clear that Blair’s government had little understanding of the potential points of conflict between the legal and political aspects of what had been historically taught in classical Islam and the values of a free democratic society.

Second, this definition of extremism allowed the then Labour government to engage with a range of Islamist groups who were demanding, for example, a partial implementation of sharia law as a legal system in the UK. Blair’s government simply pointed to other Islamist groups which were even more extreme than those they were working with. Its policy even led to extremists being allowed to join the security services.

That is why during those years a number of us argued, including on ConservativeHome, that if ‘extremism’ was to be a useful term at all – it had to be defined as meaning extreme in relation to historic British values such as parliamentary democracy, freedom of speech, freedom of religion and one law applying equally to all people.

That paradigm shift was enacted when David Cameron’s Conservative led government came to power in 2010 – and some of the credit for that must go to ConservativeHome’s editor, Paul Goodman, who was shadow Communities minister for the period leading up to that. To some extent, however, determining what those ‘British values’ actually are remains contested territory, not least because of attempts by some social liberals to hijack them as the Casey Review did in 2016 (Casey incidentally is now part of the Commission’s expert group).

It is worth reflecting quite how much progress we have made in understanding and tackling extremism since 9/11. The official report into the 7/7 London bus and tube bombings concluded that we did not understand what motivated the bombers. Politicians and public figures went out of their way to blame various social factors such as deprivation. As someone who had just returned to the UK after several years living as an aid worker in Afghanistan, including under the Taliban, I was astonished at the lack of understanding of Islamist ideology.

That is why I find this first report from the new Commission for Countering Extremism so troubling. In one sense, it ignores the very substantial progress that has been made since 9/11. It provides no significant analytical framework for understanding extremism, contains a whole section on ‘drivers of extremism’ which describes five social factors – but ignores ideology.

Although one cannot adequately summarise a 139 page report in a few words, one of the key thrusts of the report is that it is critical of the Government’s current counter-extremism strategy because, among other reasons, its definition of extremism is too broad and not well understood.  The basis for this claim and for much of the report is a survey of just under 3,000 people undertaken by the Commission. At best, this was a questionable basis on which to base public policy recommendations, risking being little more than a large-scale focus group or simply reflecting the views of lobby groups.

In case you missed it, the Government’s definition of extremism set out at the beginning of the 2015 Counter Extremism Strategy is:

Extremism is the vocal or active opposition to our fundamental values…Life in our country is based on fundamental values that have evolved over centuries, values that are supported and shared by the overwhelming majority of the population and are underpinned by our most important local and national institutions. These values include the rule of law, democracy, individual liberty, and the mutual respect, tolerance and understanding of different faiths and beliefs.

What the Commission found was that just over half of ‘practitioners’ who responded to its survey thought the government’s definition of extremism was helpful, but three quarters of the members of the public who responded did not. That may well mean that the Government needs to do more to promote it, help people to comprehend it – and, crucially, help people to understand the story of how these fundamental British values developed over the centuries.

However, what the Commission proposes is that instead the Government should replace the definition with something that they claim will be clearer and easier to understand: a focus on ‘hate’.

“We currently summarise this hateful extremism as:

Behaviours that can incite and amplify hate, or engage in persistent hatred, or equivocate about and make the moral case for violence;

And that draw on hateful, hostile or supremacist beliefs directed at an out-group who are perceived as a threat to the well-being, survival or success of an in-group;

And that cause, or are likely to cause, harm to individuals, communities or wider society.”

I am probably not alone in thinking that is a good deal less clear than the government’s definition. Not only that, it simply ignores the hugely problematic nature of ‘hate speech’ – particularly in English law, whereby any third party can, however unrelated to the event, claim that something is motivated by hate.

This has affectively allowed hate speech to be weaponised by various groups intent on censoring any public disagreement with their own ideological beliefs, which incidentally includes those intent on imposing an Islamic blasphemy law by the backdoor.

Yes, the Government’s definition of extremism could be tightened up a bit. For example, ‘equal treatment of all by the law’ would be better than ‘the rule of law’: after all, Islamists also believe in the latter – it just happens to be sharia.  However, Ministers have rightly shied away from including certain types of speech in the definition of extremism for fear of creating a sedition law. Free speech is after all one of our historic British values.

What this report admits we need – but fails to provide – is a counter-narrative.

In the eighteenth century, Edmund Burke, in his Reflections on the Revolution in France, provided a counter narrative to the extremism of the French revolution. In twentieth century, Winston Churchill, who had begun writing his History of the English Speaking Peoples prior to the Second World War, saw the narrative of how our democracy and freedoms had been established over the centuries as a counter narrative to Nazi ideology. During the Cold War those such as Roger Scruton and Margaret Thatcher actively sought to develop a counter narrative to Communist ideology.

That too should be a central role for the Commission for Countering Extremism.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Daniel Hannan: Why are MPs and commentators fainting like Victorian matrons over the use of the word “humbug”?

Daniel Hannan is an MEP for South-East England, and a journalist, author and broadcaster. His most recent book is What Next: How to Get the Best from Brexit.

“Margaret Thatcher Six Feet Under!” shouted the demonstrators as we arrived in Manchester. Ah, those comforting, familiar old chants. “Tory scum off our streets!” they screamed, their faces puce and contorted with loathing. Then, a touch less imaginatively, “Scum! Scum! Scum!”

Left-wing hate mobs are as much a part of a traditional Tory conference as angling for an invitation to the ConservativeHome reception. There is nothing new here. It happens every year. And, I’m compelled to add, it happens asymmetrically. You don’t get right-wing mobs bellowing at delegates to the Labour conference, let alone mobs that include Conservative politicians.

I have discussed the asymmetry on ConHome before. Neither side has a monopoly on political odium, obviously, but there are various metrics that show how lopsided it is: Labour supporters are more than twice as likely to say they would drop a friend who voted for the other side, for example.

Hatred – or what Leftists call “otherisation” – can easily tip over into actual incitement. This year, effigies were strung up from a bridge under a banner reading “130000 KILLED UNDER TORY RULE TIME TO LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD”.

The disgusting claim that the Conservatives are murdering people – or “killing them through austerity” – is not confined to the hard Left. It is made regularly by Labour MPs, and has been endorsed by Jeremy Corbyn. Think, for a moment, about the implications. Once you have accused the other party of murder, it ceases to be your opposition and becomes your enemy. Indeed, attacking its representatives arguably becomes an act of self-defence. That was, broadly speaking, the line taken by James T. Hodgkinson, who shot a Republican Congressman two years ago after convincing himself that Republicans were waging war on the poor.

This sort of language has gone unremarked and unreported for as long as I can remember. I suspect that every politician, Labour, Liberal Dem or Tory, has been on the receiving end of it. (A fairly typical message from yesterday: “How disgusting to learn that Dan Hannan has children”.) It’s the sort of thing we all learn put up with, and it doesn’t occur to most of us to claim victim status on the back of it. There are some disturbed people out there, and if you’re in the public eye, they shout at you.

So why, all of a sudden, are MPs and commentators fainting like affronted Victorian matrons over the use of the word “humbug”? Broadcasters spent a week running the story in tones of delighted horror. Often they twisted the facts, claiming that the Prime Minister dismissed concerns over the safety of MPs as “humbug”.

That was nonsense: what he was dismissing, quite rightly, was the claim that people might be incited to violence by hearing the phrase “Surrender Act”. For that claim to come from a party whose leader made excuses for an actual terrorist movement in Britain, and whose deputy leader demands “direct action” so that “no Tory MP can show their face anywhere in public” is indeed humbug of the highest order.

What we are seeing, in truth, is a final throw of the dice from those who fear that Johnson has outwitted them. The Conservatives have been ahead in recent opinion polls, and Johnson towers over Corbyn and Swinson in the “Best Prime Minister” surveys. Hence the almost hysterical attacks on him, the dredging up of preposterous and salacious stories from years ago, the deranged conspiracy theories about shadowy hedge funds.

None of it is working. People can see what is going on. A Europhile governing class is determined, in defiance of its past promises, to thwart the referendum result. Johnson is seeking to honour his commitment to the country and deliver. It really is that simple.

The constant mistake of the pro-Brussels Establishment has been to assume that voters – especially Leave voters – are thick. Hence their belief that if, with a little prestidigitation, they can keep Britain in the EU while Johnson is still PM, he will get the blame.

In the same way, they assume that, if they block everything in Parliament and then point at the ensuing mess, people will turn against Brexit itself rather than against the people who created the mess. They assume that if they keep calling for an election, despite constantly voting against one, they won’t look cowardly. They assume that if they demand a “people’s vote”, despite refusing to implement the actual people’s vote, they won’t look anti-democratic. They assume that they can call the Prime Minister a dictator, but that people will be upset by his use of the word “humbug”.

But people are not dim. That is why, even as MPs empty cartridge after cartridge at Johnson, the opinion polls are not budging. If some MPs contrive, yet again, to keep us in the EU, they, rather than those trying to get us out, will be blamed.

Hence the sudden interest in forming what is hilariously called a “government of national unity” without an election. Remember how, in 2011, Brussels imposed civilian juntas on Italy and Greece to keep them in the euro? British Europhiles evidently long to do something similar here, forming a “government of national unity” that exists solely to oppose the will of the nation.

Does anyone imagine that it would work? What would the cost be – to our democracy, to our national cohesion, to the legitimacy of our national institutions? If this scheme somehow came off, and Britain were kept in the EU, what kind of member state do Remainers imagine we would be afterwards? A snarling, captive Britain with an alienated and angry electorate – is that what they really want?

If we want to lower the temperature of our body politic, breaking the fever and eliminating the violent language, what is our best option? Is it to annul the biggest vote in our history? Is it to string things out through another referendum? Or is it to deliver Brexit in a liberal and moderate spirit that reassures the 48 per cent? You only have to put the question.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Environmental wackos use nooses in “provocative performance art”

Westlake Legal Group a84ed0d9-ecec-4eaf-9da2-fd21ae12678f Environmental wackos use nooses in “provocative performance art” The Blog protests Progress Iowa Corn Feed President Trump noose naacp Iowa Extremism environment Bold Iowa

Some environmental extremists in Iowa thought it would be a good idea to use nooses in their climate change protest. Rational Iowans disagreed. A former Iowa state representative, a Democrat, is now apologizing for using such a racially-charged symbol in what he calls “provocative performance art.” Now he is calling it a “lapse in judgment.” Ya think?

Ed Fallon is the leader of Bold Iowa, a liberal activist group. Last weekend the 5th annual Progress Iowa Corn Feed hosted twelve 2020 Democrat presidential candidates in NewBo. The sidewalk protest involved members of Bold Iowa, blocks of ice, and rope nooses. People stood on blocks of ice with nooses around their necks. A sign read “As the Arctic melts, the climate noose tightens.” Fallon now calls the idea a “lapse in judgment”.

“It wasn’t the right call on our part in terms of trying to get the message across,” he said. “I hope people will look beyond that lapse in judgment and understand that we have a tremendous challenge facing us right now” with climate change.

This wasn’t a one-off performance. Just the day before, Bold Iowa activists did the same thing at the Ankeny Democrat SummerFest Barbecue. Clearly, this was intended to be a signature kind of protest and message from the group. The group proudly posted a photo on their Facebook page after the Ankeny barbecue event.

As you can imagine, the local NAACP chapter wasn’t amused. The president of the Cedar Rapids branch is spreading the word in order to head off any future assinine performances.

Dedric Doolin, president of the NAACP Cedar Rapids branch, decried the protest using something so emblematic of lynching as insensitive and said it displayed “the lack of understanding about how the symbol of a noose intimidates, terrorizes and puts fear in the hearts of many people, especially African-Americans.”

“They didn’t understand the impact their display had on the community,” Doolin said.

A member of NAACP’s national board of directors, Doolin plans to spread the word of the protest’s tactics to other NAACP chapters in hopes of curbing any such future protests.

Other liberals couldn’t wait to throw Bold Iowa under the bus. Progress Iowa, the host group of the Corn Feed, issued a statement from Executive Director Matt Sinovic.

“The protest held by Bold Iowa outside of our event (Sunday) had absolutely nothing to do with Progress Iowa or NewBo City Market,” Sinovic said in the statement. “No matter what message they were trying to send, the way they did it was offensive, disturbing, and inappropriate.”

It’s pretty sweet that a liberal activist group is being slapped for its lame attempt at portraying an urgent call to action on climate change, an issue at the top of the list of concerns for the left. Commenters on Bold Iowa’s Facebook page called for pictures to be taken off and others voiced their disgust.

Notice that none of the Democrat presidential candidates were asked for quotes about the use of the nooses. Michael Bennet, Pete Buttigieg, Julián Castro, Bill de Blasio, John Delaney, Kirsten Gillibrand, John Hickenlooper, Jay Inslee, Amy Klobuchar, Seth Moulton, Tim Ryan, and Marianne Williamson attended. Notably, top candidates Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Kamala Harris skipped the event. I can’t help but think if it had happened at a large annual gathering of Republicans, every candidate and current elected official in the place would be asked about it. The double standard is alive and well. This story has flown under the radar with the national press. If a connection could be made between conservatives and nooses, well, you know it would be the headline story on 24/7 cable news channels and online news sites for days.

Fallon said, “We were kind of surprised and disappointed that our message did offend people.” Naturally, he roped President Trump into his poor decision-making. The bad Orange Man is a racist, you know.

“We underestimated the way it may trigger folks who either are concerned about the rise in racism in this country, in many respects because of Donald Trump,” Fallon said in an interview. “And also people who were affected by a family member who maybe committed suicide by hanging. … Our focus is to get people to understand just how urgent of a situation climate change is. We really are at a point where human extinction is a possibility.”

A statement was issued to local media from NewBo City Market’s Executive Director. City Market was the venue for the Progress Iowa Corn Feed. The statement included the contact number for Fallon, which I am not including in the quote.

“Yesterday, there was a demonstration orchestrated on the public sidewalks outside of NewBo City Market during the Progress Iowa Corn Feed Presidential Candidate events. The demonstration was intended to bring awareness of climate change by having people standing on blocks of ice with hangman’s nooses around their necks.

We saw the protest and we were equally disgusted by it. It was staged by a group unaffiliated with the Market or Progress Iowa and conducted outside of the Market property. As it was a political demonstration on a public sidewalk, it was protected speech and there was nothing we, the event organizers, or CRPD could have done to stop it.

We share the outrage of many in the community at this use of a racist symbol. Whatever point this group was trying to make was completely lost because of they way they presented themselves.

What a disgusting protest. That Fallon desperately tried to drag President Trump into the fray shows how shallow the thinking is on the left.

The post Environmental wackos use nooses in “provocative performance art” appeared first on Hot Air.

Westlake Legal Group a84ed0d9-ecec-4eaf-9da2-fd21ae12678f-300x153 Environmental wackos use nooses in “provocative performance art” The Blog protests Progress Iowa Corn Feed President Trump noose naacp Iowa Extremism environment Bold Iowa   Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Dean Godson: There are plenty of ideas on the centre-right. Here’s how it can create a new, decent, patriotric consensus.

Dean Godson is Director of Policy Exchange.

Where next? For the last two years, British politics has been stuck in paralysis. There has been a lot of noise and clamour, but no side seems capable of creating consensus and winning broad support. That is not to say that this is a dull time in our national debate – a deep ideological contest is under way for the future of our country. It will reverberate long after Brexit, in whatever form, is complete.

It is often said today that all the intellectual energy is on the Left. But is this true? There are no leaders of the quality of Clement Attlee on the Labour benches. There are no economists or thinkers of the ilk of Anthony Crosland. Thirty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, we have people aspiring to power in this country who are proud to call themselves Marxists – including the Shadow Chancellor.

The problem is not that there is an absence of ideas on the centre-right. It is that they have yet to coalesce into a coherent vision of national renewal. Policy Exchange, for example, identified the plight of the “just about managing” classes in our country – the JAMs – in 2015. So many in the country would put themselves in this camp. But has enough really been done for them in the four years since? Do they think the state is on their side, or that the political class is fighting for them?

The election of a new Conservative Party leader is the moment – perhaps the last chance – to get this right. One of the greatest mistakes that the Tories could make is to play the only game that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party is capable of – sectional, identity politics that sets different groups of voters against each other.

Last year, Policy Exchange organised a Conservative conference event with the title ‘Can the Conservatives win in Canterbury and in Middlesbrough at the same time?’ But you could ask the same question of Labour. As it stands, the UK risks being treated as if it exists in balkanised sub-electorates, each with niche interests and obsessions. The only way to electoral victory in this model is with temporarily cobbled together coalitions of rival groups.

Yet despite polarisation on Brexit and other issues, there is more agreement – and more consensus – among voters than often appears, and therefore more cause for optimism. This is not a jingoistic nation. Instead, there is a deep tissue of patriotism in the best sense of the word – a fidelity to constitution, citizenship and community – that has too often been dismissed out of hand. Policy Exchange’s polling on the Union revealed that a clear majority of people in the UK say their support for it has remained constant or has risen in recent years – 78 per cent in England, 60 per cent in Scotland, 69 per cent in Wales, 70 per cent in Northern Ireland.

There is also, among immigrant communities in the UK, a complete rejection of the gatekeeper politics that sees putatively “national” representative organisations claim to speak on behalf of millions without their consent, in the most damaging form of identity politics. Only 20 per cent of British Muslims, for example, saw themselves as represented by such organisations. Fifty-five per cent of British Muslims felt ‘very strongly’ that they belonged to Britain and 38 per cent ‘fairly strongly’ that they belonged to Britain; only seven per cent did not feel a strong sense of belonging to the UK.

Consensus can be found elsewhere. Our work on lawfare – the unfair hounding of British troops through the courts – has had huge cut-through with the British public, whose outcry on the issue has forced our political and legal establishment to wake up.

The same goes for housing, where our research was based on the simple proposition that the way to overcome opposition to building more homes – so-called Nimbyism – is to make sure they are designed in a way that fits the tastes of local communities and makes our country more beautiful. This is a vision with massive support.  Traditional terraces with tree-lined streets, for instance, are by far the most popular option for the design and style of new homes. They may be unfashionable among “starchitects” but they are supported by 48 per cent of the public, with some of the strongest support among working-class Ds and Es. And how many want housing developments or estates in a modern style? Just 28 per cent.  Our polling shows a clear majority favour traditional design over modern developments. In housing and more, the first job of the new Prime Minister is to come up with a coherent national narrative that restores our sense of direction as a country.

There is the chance for a new Unionism, not just making sure that the individual countries of Scotland, Wales, England and Northern Ireland breathe comfortably within the shared home of the United Kingdom, but also that the Union itself is to an extent reconceptualised – so that we build a union between young and old and address the challenge of generational justice. A union between newer arrivals in Britain and long-established communities, so that suspicions and enmities can be overcome. A union between those whose faith means so much for them, and others for whom faith is vestigial and whose values increasingly shape the public space.  In short, we need a new social contract for post-Brexit Britain.

Social care is one concrete policy example. It is increasingly plain to those involved in the care sector that the state should cover almost all of the costs of long-term complex social care, which can involve ruinous costs for individuals and families, particularly for those suffering from dementia in old age. It can lead to the forced sales of family homes and wipe out a lifetime of saving and hard work. This idea – effectively the completion of the Welfare State – was proposed in a recent Policy Exchange research paper and embraced, perhaps surprisingly for someone on the right of the Conservative Party, by Jacob Rees-Mogg, who argued in the foreword that “It is far better to pool risk and for the taxpayer, where appropriate, to step in and help those who would face ruinous costs on their own, making social care largely free at the point of use.” He is surely right.

Where else could the next Prime Minister discover a quiet majority? On the environment, perhaps, where there are strong arguments to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2050 – with support especially high among the young. On investment in R & D and industry, especially in the North East, which could become a leader in the high-value, green economy. Certainly, on protecting British troops from pernicious forms of lawfare, which has high levels of support because of the obvious injustices involved. On education, too, where our polling revealed that poor pupil behaviour is driving teachers from the profession and undermining children’s education – 72 per cent of teachers know a colleague who has “left the teaching profession because of bad behaviour”. On countering extremism online, 74 per cent think that the big internet companies should be more proactive in locating and deleting extremist content, with 66 per cent of people believing that the internet should be a regulated space.

There is more thinking to be done across all policy areas – People, Prosperity, Place and Patriotism, as Policy Exchange’s work is organised – as a new Prime Minister is chosen. With that in mind, we will be publishing a series of proposals under these themes in the forthcoming weeks, which will seek to answer the question: what do we want from the next Prime Minister? We will also be hosting a series of events, including one in partnership with ConservativeHome, on electoral politics, housing, the economy, education, energy and the environment, lawfare and the rise of China. Only by hunting out areas of existing consensus will the next Prime Minister be able to start bringing the country together and healing the divides of last few years.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

George Freeman: Our new book. In which forty Tory MPs band together to help revive conservatism

George Freeman is the founder of the 2020 Conservatives Group, the Big Tent Ideas Festival and Chair of the Conservative Policy Forum. He is MP for Mid-Norfolk.

The Conservative Party is in a hole. We need to stop digging. And start thinking seriously about the real causes of the EU referendum result, the grievances it spoke to – and set out a plan to honour that referendum result by leaving the European Union and setting out a bold programme of domestic reforms.

The EU referendum was a massive vote to reject the political status quo and embrace radical, small c conservative reform. The 17.4 million Labour, Conservative and unaligned voters who voted Leave were voting for radical change. The genius of the Leave campaign was its call to “take back control”. It spoke powerfully to huge swathes of the country feeling marginalised by a potent mix of globalisation, post-Crash austerity, an influx of low paid labour from Eastern Europe, the decline of traditional market towns and high streets, fear of economic marginalisation from automation and the gig economy and a deepening despair at a sense of injustice at the gap between the “unaccountable elites” and the ordinary citizen.

Brexit spoke to – and has enshrined – the principle divide in Britain which is no longer between Left or Right, or North and South, but between those with comfortable lives and those on the margin.

This is hardly surprising. After eight years in office overseeing painful local public spending cuts, in the wake of the £700billon bank bailout, MPs expenses scandal and Blair’s dishonest Iraq war dossier which have entrenched a sense of Parliament dangerously detached from the people it serves, the Brexit referendum was a roar for reform. A number of us had been warning David Cameron and George Osborne it was coming.

Handled properly it could – and should – have been a catalyst for that most difficult of political challenges: renewal in office. But Cameron misjudged the mood and treated Leavers with contempt. Theresa May misjudged the mood as a mandate for a toxic combination of hardline anti-business UKIP rhetoric and bureaucratic Brexit bungling.

Now we choose a new leader in the teeth of a deepening public anger and pressure – whipped up by Farage and Banks – the Dick Dastardly and Mutley of British politics – to embrace the “kamikaze” approach of an anti-business No Deal Brexit.

Get this wrong, and we risk the destruction of the Conservative Party for a generation: losing our professional, business, metropolitan and liberal supporters to the Liberal Democrats, our Leave supporters to the Brexit Party and those who just want competence in office to stay at home in despair.

If we are to avoid gifting a broken Brexit Britain to Jeremy Corbyn, John Mcdonnell and Len McClusky, the next Conservative leader has to do three things:

  • Deliver an EU Withdrawal which a majority of moderate mainstream British voters in the centre ground can support
  • Embark on some bold domestic reforms to tackle the legitimate grievances which fuelled the Referendum vote
  • Restore some grip, vision, inspiration and unity to a divided country and Party.

The scale of the revolt against the status quo demands bold reform. Not the technocratic tinkering and endless self-congratulatory initiative-launching of Ministers looking busy on Instragram, but real reform.

This is a 1975, 1945, 1905 moment of profound disruption. The old order will be replaced by a new order. The only question is who will shape it? Can the Conservative Party make this a moment of bold and inspiring renewal in the same way that Mrs Thatcher and Keith Joseph did in 1975, Attlee, Churchill, Beveridge and Butler did in 1945, and Churchill and the Liberals did in 1905 to see of socialism by creating pensions and national insurance?

Too often, we forget that the great institutions we cherish as permanent were once mere ideas – whether the NHS, the BBC, the London Docklands, universal suffrage, the Right to Buy or the privatisation of the old state industries. They were bold ideas which reshaped a whole generation and quickly became permanent fixtures.

When was the last time any modern politician had an idea on the scale of any of these? We now face a genuine battle of ideas with a resurgent hard left and we need urgently to rediscover the power of political imagination.

So what would a bold programme of Conservative reform look like today? In our book Britain Beyond Brexit: a New Conservative Vision for a New Generation, published today by the Centre for Policy Studies, I and forty MPs from all sides of the party – Leave and Remain, North and South, left and right, urban and rural – have set out a collection of pieces to frame that programme.

Our book sets out a range of policy proposals across six defining themes we believe must be at the centre of a coherent and compelling narrative for the New Conservatism: identity, opportunity, enterprise, social justice, security and citizenship.

Of course, many may ask: is the Conservative Party capable of that task, amid the seemingly endless and deepening divisions of the Brexit civil war?

The successes and failures of a post-Brexit new conservatism will be based on understanding the profound societal, economic and technological changes coming at us. Not how we return to the old dividing lines of the 1980s or 1950s, but how we address the profound challenges of our age: issues such as globalisation, digitalisation, genetic engineering, sustainable development, religious extremism and the traumatic rupture of the crash and its legacy on our public finances.

We have got to be brave enough to tackle the big issues of the day. Low and fragile growth. A fragmented health and care system. Structural deficit. Intergenerational unfairness. Deepening anxiety, disillusionment and despair. Rising pressure on weary public servants in creaking public services. Stubborn ghettos of low aspiration and deprivation. Housing unaffordability, homelessness and small town decline. Sluggish infrastructure. Bad planning.

For our elderly – and the families and community of carers who look after them, we need a fair system of funding and providing elderly care. For the young, the urgent priority is addressing housing and the wider issue of economic disenfranchisement. Put simply, we’ve built an economy where the principal mechanism for building economic security – owning a home – is getting beyond the reach of all but the most privileged. Is it any wonder that a whole generation of millennial voters – with little or no chance of acquiring a house or any capital – are seduced by the rhetoric of anti-capitalism?

We face a genuinely historic challenge: are we going to make Brexit a moment of catalytic renewal of conservatism and our nation? Or a moment of annihilation by a new alignment of a new generation of voters?

To avoid a decade of decline in a post-Brexit Britain run by Corbyn, we urgently need a new conservatism for a new generation.

I hope our book will help light the way.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Robert Halfon: Stop calling Corbyn a Marxist

Robert Halfon is MP for Harlow, a former Conservative Party Deputy Chairman, Chair of the Education Select Committee and President of Conservative Workers and Trade Unionists.

Conservatives have got to stop calling Jeremy Corbyn a Marxist. Not because he isn’t from the most socialist part of the socialist wing of the Labour Party. Nor to appease the approach that the Opposition leader stands for.

But simply because that the term doesn’t resonate with the public – certainly not with the younger generation.

I don’t meet many people these days who have a strong predilection for or against Karl Marx, Leon Trotsky…or Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela for that matter. In the streets of Harlow, and elsewhere, voters will not be convinced of the ills of Corbyn by hearing, “Don’t vote for Labour because he is a Marxist”. Such terminology means very little to most ordinary folk.

With the same end, Tories fall into the trap of regularly describing Labour’s programme as “hard Left”. Again, as well as being unintelligible to most members of the public, what on earth does this actually mean? Outside the Westminster village, people who are not as politically engaged aren’t thinking in terms of ‘the hard Left’ or ‘Marxists’, if they even understand the origins of these labels, at all (though they may well think of Corbyn as more extreme than his predecessors).

During the 2017 election, the attack dogs at CCHQ focused on Corbyn’s “extremism” and the Labour leadership’s apparent close links with the IRA, Hamas and Hezbollah. Reams and reams of newspaper coverage (which still continues) emphasised the Labour leader’s alleged terrorist and neo-Communist tentacles.

The electorate’s indifference to all this was clear to see. Families were more worried about school funding, police on the streets, and whether their children could have free tuition at university – to all of which, of course, we had very little response.

Whilst Conservatives were branding Labour’s 2017 manifesto as one of the most left-wing since Michael Foot, the public were just hearing about an end to austerity, more money for health and education and better train services.

So our attack lines on Labour need to be reimagined.

First, we should describe what Labour in Government would mean for our country. Rather than putting Corbyn under an intellectual umbrella of Marxist/Communist philosophy, which has proven unrelatable, far better to set out how Labour would be damaging the economy, in turn damaging public services and damaging our country’s security? Our message is clear: Labour would damage Britain.

Second, Tories can make a virtue out of the fact that Corbyn’s Labour (unlike that of the Blair and Brown years) make no hard choices. In contrast, the Conservatives take difficult decisions when they need to be made; not because they want to, but for the sake of economy – a relatable stance for those millions of hardworking families worrying also making decisions about how to spend money wisely.

Third, greater emphasis must be placed on Corbyn’s threat to public services and the cost of living. Under a Labour Government, the country will run out of money or, as Margaret Thatcher more accurately described, “other people’s money”. No funds for our hospitals, schools and police and no finance to hand back the people their own money in the form of tax cuts makes for some uncomfortable reading.

People are afraid of economic upheaval and, as shown by some Conservatives in Canada, it is possible to make the case that strong public services depend upon a robust economy. Just imagine a Tory Party political broadcast of a hospital and NHS in crisis because the country has no money.

Fourth, the Conservatives need to focus on national security. Merely arguing Corbyn is a hard-Left Trotskyite who wants to get rid of our nuclear weapons does not work. People care deeply about security and seek confidence in a strong defence. A damaged economy means no money for proper funding of our armed forces, nor to protect our families against the evils of ISIS, Putin, Iran et al.

The anti-semitism crises that has infected the Labour body politic does hit home, and undermines Labour’s aim to be a values-based party. Whilst tragic, it is also poignant, leaving a nasty taste in the mouth of voters as to what the Labour Party stands for. But that is very different to proclaiming its anti-semitism as a means of shouting that Corbyn is a Marxist.

Of course, in the Conservative salons and think tanks, there should be continued reflection about Marxism, communism and the philosophical roots of Corbyn’s socialism. Perhaps even a Museum of Communism as a way of remembrance of all the horrors and many millions of deaths that the ideology has caused. This would be a good way of educating voters of the horrors that communism led to. Nevertheless, attacking Her Majesty’s Opposition Party simply won’t cut the mustard with voters.

So, please put the unreconstructed Marxist monikers to one side, focus on developing our own compassionate Conservative brand and develop a credible attack on Corbyn’s Labour – something that can really resonate with millions of our fellow countrymen and women.

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Ilhan Omar Was Interviewed by an Anti-Semite Who Compared Hamas to Holocaust Victims

Westlake Legal Group ilhan-omar-was-interviewed-by-an-anti-semite-who-compared-hamas-to-holocaust-victims Ilhan Omar Was Interviewed by an Anti-Semite Who Compared Hamas to Holocaust Victims white supremacy Terrorist Supporter republicans Republican Cowardice Politics media bias Ilhan Omar Hamas Supporter Front Page Stories Front Page Featured Story Extremism democrats Democrat Party anti-semite Ahmed Tharwat

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A few days ago, RedState writer Jennifer Van Laar posted and wrote on a video of Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar laughing it up about Al Qaeda and wondering why people don’t put the terrorist group on equal footing with the United States. It was a pretty astonishing display and would rightly leave most wondering how she ever made it to Congress with her views.

Given that this video made the rounds again this past weekend, I wanted to take the opportunity to share just who Omar was allowing herself to be interviewed by.

Democratic Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar gave multiple interviews to a fringe Arab-American television host, Ahmed Tharwat, who calls Israel the “Jewish ISIS” and has compared the terrorist group Hamas to Holocaust victims.

Omar blamed “our involvement in other people’s affairs” for terrorism in a 2013 interview with Tharwat.

“When are we gonna decide or realize that terrorism is a reaction? It’s an ideology, it’s a means of things, it’s not an entity, it’s not a place, people. It’s a reaction to a situation,” Tharwat said in the interview, which Fox News uncovered Monday.

And was this just a one time mistake? Nope. She gave another interview to the same guy in 2017, even as she was gearing up to run for Congress.

Omar gave another interview to Tharwat at a January 2017 Women’s March event, despite the host’s history of radical rhetoric.

The fact that Ilhan Omar is comfortable sitting down and yucking it up with a noted anti-Semite who’s called for the destruction of Israel isn’t actually that surprising. She’s made her personal views fairly clear and I believe we are past the point of having to make assumptions about her priorities and beliefs.

What strikes me more about all of this is just how large the double standard is within the American political landscape when it comes to politicians cavorting with extremists. If a Republican speaks at a hotel where a white supremacist is present, even if neither are connected in any way, that Republican makes national news and is made to answer for it. You’ll famously remember Donald Trump being excoriated because David Duke once tacitly endorsed him, something that wasn’t even under the President’s control. Rep. Dan Crenshaw even made national news last week because he once shared a campaign video in a public Tea Party Facebook group where a few bad actors made some offensive posts.

Yet, here we have Ilhan Omar sitting down and laughing it up with an anti-Semite who supports actual terrorists in Hamas. The Democratic party is silent. No one seems to care. It’s a pretty incredible inconsistency. What Omar does in that interview is far worse than Donald Trump has ever done as far as relating to extremism. Why isn’t she denounced? Why isn’t she made to answer for it? Where are the cameras being shoved in her face to ask her why she’d socialize with such an awful person?

The answer is two-fold.

One, many are simply scared to call her out. We now live in a society where any criticism of a black and/or Muslim person is considered racist and Islamophobic. I suspect many media members are smart enough to realize how bad it looks for her to have done this interview, yet they say nothing because it’s easier to not take on the mob that results from criticizing her. Secondly, because Omar is a Democrat, that takes precedence over everything else. To criticize her would hurt the Democrat party and since 95+% of media members are liberal, they can’t let that happen.

Republicans should stop playing along with this game. They should be challenging the media at every opportunity over their suppression of the facts but too many Republicans have learned nothing and continue to play defense. The same way Democrats all repeated the same talking point in defense of Omar over the weekend, Republican Congressional members should be universally sharing the above interview and asking why it’s acceptable for a sitting member of Congress to entertain a radical anti-Semite who sympathizes with Hamas.

That’d require getting out of the fetal position and actually pressing the issue though, so don’t hold your breath.


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Benedict Rogers: Hunt’s review of British policy on the persecution of Christians is crucial and courageous

Benedict Rogers is East Asia Team Leader at the international human rights organisation CSW, co-founder and Deputy Chair of the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission, a former parliamentary candidate and a Senior Fellow at the Religious Freedom Institute. He is the author of six books, including “The Very Stones Cry Out: The Persecuted Church – Pain, Passion and Praise” (co-authored with Baroness Cox).

I have always been passionate about defending freedom of religion or belief as a human right for everyone, of all religions and none. I have worked for many years with and for the Rohingyas and other Muslims in Burma, the Ahmadiyya and Shi’a in Indonesia, the Uyghurs, Tibetan Buddhists and Falun Gong practitioners in China and twice visited and campaigned for an atheist in jail in Indonesia. My colleagues in CSW have similarly championed the cause of the Baha’is, the Yazidis, Hindus in Pakistan and others. Our motto is “everyone free to believe”.

However, for some time there has been a sense that the persecution of Christians has not been receiving the attention it deserves in certain quarters of our foreign policy establishment. Regardless of your views of Christianity, in simple statistical terms Christians around the world are persecuted in the most countries, from the widest range of sources – from radical Islamism, extremist Hinduism, Buddhist nationalism, from Communist authoritarianism, militant secularism or non-State actors such as paramilitaries and drug cartels in parts of Latin America. The International Society for Human Rights estimates that Christians are victims of 80 per cent of all acts of religious intolerance, even though they only represent 30 per cent of the global population. The Pew Research Center’s most recent report on global restrictions on religion states that the number of countries where various religious groups were harassed either by governments or social groups increased in 2016, and the most widely targeted groups were Christians, who face harassment in 144 countries, closely followed by Muslims, in 142 countries.

That is why Jeremy Hunt’s announcement on Boxing Day, to conduct a review of the Foreign Office’s response to the persecution of Christians worldwide, is so significant. In the five months since he became Foreign Secretary, I have already been impressed by the way Hunt has prioritised human rights, and shown personal leadership on many issues. As I have written on this site previously, his Policy Exchange speech was one of the most important speeches I have read by any Foreign Secretary. His focus on media freedom, his handling of Yemen, his decision to meet the wives of human rights lawyers jailed in China, his visit to Burma, his statements on the erosion of freedoms in Hong Kong, handling of the case of Matthew Hedges jailed in the United Arab Emirates, and Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe in prison in Iran, are just a few examples of how he has increased attention on human rights. This latest announcement is another, and is potentially the most courageous.

I had the privilege of participating in a meeting a week ago, hosted by the Foreign Secretary, alongside the Archbishop of Canterbury, other senior church leaders and NGOs, and survivors of persecution from Iraq, Pakistan and Eritrea. I had the opportunity to highlight the situation in China, Indonesia, Burma and North Korea. The persecution of Christians in the Middle East is of course the most egregious, but it is not the only part of the world where Christians are in danger. I told Hunt that just three days before our meeting, I had received an email report about a Christian community in Burma holding a pre-Christmas celebration and being attacked and stoned by a mob of fifty militant Buddhist nationalists. China is facing the most severe crackdown on Christianity since the Cultural Revolution, involving the closure of many churches, the imprisonment of pastors and the destruction of crosses. In Indonesia, I visited three churches in Surabaya earlier this year which had been attacked by a family of suicide bombers. Across Asia, Africa, Latin America as well as the Middle East, Christians increasingly live in fear.

So a review of the Foreign Office’s policy specifically on the persecution of Christians worldwide is extremely welcome. We will see what comes out of the review when the Bishop of Truro, appointed to lead it, reports next Easter. I hope that at a minimum it will lead to the British government being more consistently outspoken, using its diplomatic networks to better defend persecuted Christians, ensuring our aid policy genuinely does not discriminate on religious grounds, for or against any religion, but recognises that faith-based aid groups can be part of the solution, and co-ordinates better with like-minded governments – particularly the United States Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, the EU’s Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief and the UN Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Religion or Belief – to ensure that the crisis facing Christians worldwide is no longer ignored.

As the Foreign Secretary says, “Britain has long championed international religious freedom. So often, the persecution of Christians is a telling early warning sign of the persecution of every minority… We must never allow a misguided political correctness to inhibit our response to the persecution of any religious minority.”

The test will be in the outcomes of the review and in the implementation of what recommendations may come, but in taking this initiative Hunt has already symbolically shifted the Foreign Office in a better direction, and for that he deserves our appreciation.

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