Mark Spencer MP : We must reject radicalism and encourage tolerance

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The Home Secretary recently announced the introduction of Extremism Disruption Orders (EDOs). This Government believes that extremism, in any form, has no place within the UK. As a society we must all work together to reject radicalism and encourage tolerance and respect between different faiths and communities. But the world we live in today is a fast-changing one, and despite the efforts of the vast majority of society, some people who preach extremist views are able to do so within Britain with too much freedom.

EDOs will target those people whose aim it is to encourage hateful views within our society. For too long Governments have skirted around this as an issue, for fear of offending people or communities. We have seen the damage that unchecked extremism can cause within our borders – look at Anjem Choudary, who has finally been arrested after years of inviting support to extremist groups. We shouldn’t shy away from dealing with cases like his in a much more robust way and we certainly can’t afford to just stand back and allow it to happen.

Freedom of speech is one of the most important values that we have here in Britain. But does that mean that we can let people incite violent and even murderous behaviour? I don’t believe that we should give racists, religious fundamentalists and homophobes the freedom to spread their message of hate through what are often vulnerable communities. We’ve seen how ISIL prey on disillusioned young people in Iraq and Syria to recruit members, and we must act to stop them doing the same over here. Already there are too many tragic cases where Britons have been brainwashed and have headed out to join ISIL, towards what they believe will be a better life. It’s only when their feet touch the ground in ISIL-controlled territory that the gravity of their mistake become truly clear to them and by then it’s too late. We need strong measures in place so that we can act now to prevent this from happening.

That is why I support the introduction of EDOs. Every day in the news we see places in the world where extremism is allowed to thrive, and we see it in its most shocking and brutal form. But even the most appalling cases of extremism have their roots in the quiet, unchallenged, matter-of-fact discrimination that can be found in some schools, places of worship or community centres. We need to ensure that society, particularly the young and vulnerable, are protected from exposure to such dangerous and inflammatory messages, and the EDOs will serve as a measure to discourage those who seek to divide our society in this way.

Mark Spencer is the Conservative Member of Parliament for Sherwood and is PPS to the Environment Secretary Liz Truss.

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Showing 4 reactions

  • commented 2015-09-11 11:29:35 +0100
    Good Morning. Firstly my reaction to and opinion on the main article above: vapid tosh and another “notice me please Dave” post so common these days. Isn’t this MP the one who went down the road of suggesting the use of EDOs against sincere Christian teachers if they expressed their belief that marriage was only between a man and a woman? Oh silly me, I forgot, that for tolerance purposes, all such wording has been changed in law such that said “man” and “woman” can be redefined at the lawmaker’s whim. Wasn’t word redefinition (rectification) the job of the Ministry of Truth in Orwell’s 1984?

    I don’t suppose you get many of us on here. I’m a Socialist from the days of Labour with Clause 4 and Conservative with a small “c”, when we had much common ground and a respect for English values and a firm belief in decency, democracy and freedom of speech in this sceptered isle, mother of the free!

    For a blistering riposte to the Spencer article Google Ben Kelly at con4lib.com. I’d post the link, but I’m not sure it’s allowed on here. Con4lib are folks with whom I’d freely admit I have many strong differences but on this one Ben Kelly has nailed it absolutely. Which just proves that no one political side ever can claim to have all the good tunes.

    A short quote from Kelly: “Freedom of expression is utterly meaningless unless it means the freedom of those who think differently, because our own liberty is immediately precarious if we fail to protect even our enemies from censorship and oppression. By endorsing silencing others you will have no defence when they come to silence you.”

    Previous posters Sean and Ben have much truth in their posts and for what it’s worth here is my two-penn’orth:
    Real democracy tolerates opposition. While the majority in itself holds roughly one particular opinion, contrary opinions are not merely possible but also likely to hold water and have validity. True democracy accepts the possibility that even the majority that gets to choose the government may be wrong and therefore may not know enough.

    John Stuart Mill wrote in his treatise “On Liberty” of the need to protect the right of opinion of the minority.

    Voltaire: Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so too.

    On Voltaire’s even more famous quotation “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” Quoteinvestigator has: March 1923: article was reprinted in the “Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen’s Magazine” of Indianapolis, Indiana:
    If you deny to anyone else the right to say what you think is wrong, it will not be long before you will lose the right to say what you think is right. Defense of the freedom of others is self-defense. Voltaire stated this fact as a genius can: “I wholly disagree with what you say and will contend to the death for your right to say it.”

    Adolf Hitler: What good fortune for governments that the people do not think.

    For those of you who have long forgotten or even have never read it, Google “Newspeak” from Orwell’s 1984 (contrary to the title the final state control is to be complete by 2050) and read it.

    Here’s are few “Newspeak” vocubulary snippets that fit far too well with current political messages:
    “Bellyfeel” refers to a blind, enthusiastic acceptance of an idea.

    “Blackwhite” has “two mutually contradictory meanings" depending on whether it is applied to an opponent — “impudently claiming that black is white, in contradiction of the plain facts” — or to a Party member — “a loyal willingness to say that black is white when Party discipline demands”.

    “Crimethink” is the Newspeak word for thoughtcrime (thoughts that are unorthodox or outside the official government platform)
    However, it is also an example of doublethink, because it represents an active rewriting of the past, which is a key aspect of the Party’s control. Indeed, blackwhite is explained as “the ability to believe that black is white, and more, to know that black is white, and to forget that one has ever believed the contrary”.

    Oldspeak: English; any language that is not Newspeak.

    Oldthink: Ideas inspired by events or memories of times prior to the Revolution.

    Prolefeed: steady stream of mindless entertainment produced to distract and occupy the masses. The prole in prolefeed is reference to the Marxist concept of the proletariat.

    Meantime I will leave you with my own dark foreboding: Be afraid people, be very afraid for your children’s and their children’s future freedom!

    P.S. Do tell your P.R. people to ask for their money back re the pictures used of Mrs May and Mr Choudary. In my opinion Mrs May projecting the “steely-eyed harridan bully going to war” look, doesn’t inspire confidence as someone who’d be too worried about cuddly stuff like my personal freedom of speech. The Choudary photograph on the other hand looks like many other pictures of Islamic scholars who are projecting a solid image of their belief. You probably won’t get a convincing dialogue out of either, but the sad fact is one of them should be defending to the last breath freedom of speech.

    Memo to P.R. people: Def shot self in foot there!
  • commented 2015-08-16 09:23:36 +0100
    Laws against incitement to violence already exist. Use them.

    EDO’s seem to be directed at people who say things that the government doesn’t like – a crucial difference. “Racist, religious fundamentalist and homophones” (who defines them) have every right to put forward their views, so long as they aren’t inciting law breaking.

    Mr. Spencer, neither you nor David Cameron is the arbiter of right and wrong in this country, and this article gives me no assurance that you won’t abuse your new powers.
  • commented 2015-08-12 21:16:45 +0100
    Yes! I think the lesson of the last decade or so is that if you give the police and the government enormous new powers there is absolutely no way they will abuse, and no chance they will go beyond their originally stated remit. Trust them, their use of their new found powers will definitely definitely definitely not be used in situations way beyond Islamist terrorists. I really do think the only way to defend British values is to trash them, scrap the lot, defeat intolerance with intolerance, extremism with extremism, tyranny. with tyranny.

    The terrorists want to scare us, and they think we are hypocritical, unprincipled and weak – this can only be combated by being scared, violating our own values, lauding liberty while abolishing it and caving in when faced with danger. In this modern world, which is totally different, you have to look at things differently, grow up, this is the 21st century, freedom of expression is archaic, trust the government.
  • commented 2015-08-12 13:42:44 +0100
    Problem: the message of Islam is that there is only one God, Allah: either you submit to him or you are his enemy. If you are his enemy, there is no such thing as understanding or tolerance and tolerance is a weakness. When a radical creed sees tolerance only as weakness, they are right. It has to be fought tooth and nail because the only alternative is submission to it – and that is exactly what the radical Islamists intend. After all, that’s what they keep telling us, time and time again. After all, that’s what they are doing right across North Africa and the Middle East. After all, they have a plan – and all we are doing is thinking in terms of “tolerance, understanding, compromise, mutual respect, etc”