full story and comments:
15 December 2011
Police 'uncomfortable' with 'Orwellian' strategy to
root out campus militants. David Matthews writes
Credit: Alamy Watching you: police would prefer to focus only on
extremists who extol violence
The government's strategy to tackle
extremism on campus pushes officers into the role of "thought police",
according to a constable overseeing the policy in London universities.
PC Mark Davis told a group of university representatives that he was not
"overly comfortable" with a review of the Prevent strategy in June, which
widened its scope to cover "extremism" as well as "violent extremism".
Speaking at the Association of University Administrators' conference in
London last week, PC Davis said that the switch in policy was something that
his "bosses within the police are trying to work out with the government
because it really puts us into the realm of thought police".
added: "It's not something that I'm overly comfortable [with]. Anyone can be
extreme. Police officers can be extreme in their views - we want more pay,
we can be extreme about that."
He said that "we're trying as best we
can to stick to people who are willing to take that extra step from extreme
views [to violence]".
The officer told AUA members that they should
consider contacting his team if they found students handing out extremist
literature, organising off-campus meetings or exhibiting "sudden changes in
The police were "very interested, and you should be very
interested, in things like that", he said.
During his presentation, a
slide was shown illustrating the different types of threat that Prevent
It included pictures of a hijacked plane exploding as it
hit the World Trade Center in New York in the 9/11 attacks, the aftermath of
an IRA bombing, an Animal Liberation Front militant, and a member of Fathers
4 Justice, which disbanded in 2006, dressed as Batman.
As well as
covering actions inspired by al-Qaeda and Irish republicans, PC Davis said
Prevent also dealt with the activities of animal rights groups,
environmental activists and the far Right. But he stressed that his team was
at pains not to tell students, "We want you to think in this particular
A spokesman for the Home Office said that Prevent "challenges
extremist ideology and tackles the radicalisation of vulnerable people".
He added: "It is not about policing people's thoughts but challenging
those extremist views that seek to legitimise terrorism."
Office defines extremism as a "vocal or active opposition to fundamental
British values". The Metropolitan Police said it was "fully supportive and
committed to the revised Prevent strategy".
Nick Langford 15 December, 2011
views of Fathers 4 Justice can be presented by the police as "extremist"
then so can any position which runs counter to government policy.
Fathers 4 Justice is (still) a civil rights organisation campaigning for
reform of the family justice system so that it better protects the rights of
children to maintain meaningful relationships with both of their parents
following parental separation. We support the idea of "family" as one which
should include the father, not just the mother/child dyad promoted by the
In 2006 we revised the campaign following the
dissemination in the press by the Labour government of the preposterous
story that we were planning to kidnap Leo Blair. Our aim has always been to
reunite children and their parents.
To a far-left, Marxist/feminist
mindset we are indeed "extreme"; to those we help we are their last resort.
decadence 15 December, 2011
Leaving aside the other points, I
can't see that it's fair to put the blame on Marxists in this connexion.
Marx's critique of the bourgeois family was, at least in part, that it had
betrayed its own principles - that it had "reduced the family relation to a
mere money relation". It is surely capitalism which, in reducing all social
relations to the "cash nexus", has undermined the family. The present-day
assaults on the family come from all ruling parties, Conservative, Labour
and Liberal-Democrat alike - that is, from all the parties involved in
managing late and now decadent capitalism. As Bertolt Brecht said, the task
of Marxists is to defend moderation against the radicalism of capitalism,
which would sell its own mother - or husband or wife - for a percentage
point of extra profit. "Fundamental British values" are certainly in danger
when vouchsafed to the - extremist - capitalist parties cited above.
John Abell 15 December, 2011
What's a wookie?
DrGrumbles 15 December, 2011
Does the crusade against
extremism and recruitment on campus extend to those groups willing to
collude with and even equip known terrorist groups in order to further their
aims, i.e. the British Army and security services?
What is campus extremism? 16 December, 2011
The White Rose
group may have fitted these categories. Secretive, they hid their
identities, met off-campus and circulated literature encouraging students to
rise up against their government. Of course they were asking students to
rise up at Ludwig Maximillian Univeristy in 1940's Munich. A caretaker saw
them dropping literature on campus, reported them to the Gestapo and they
were beheaded after kangaroo trial. They were, of course, a peaceful,
Universities are placed where ideas circulate, and
where students may develop strong ideas which they hold onto and later
mature out of. Universities are places for ideas and debate. When this
spills over into something more sinister (ie violent direct action) there is
clearly a line to be drawn. But drawing that line to early and too strongly,
may be entirely counter-productive.
material for thought 16 December, 2011
There was a
chap from Trinity College Dublin who took the extreme view that the material
world does not exist.
In fact, you can't get much more extreme than
DrGrumbles 16 December, 2011
Didn't he get shot in the face
after imagining himself on the London Underground?