It’s been less than a week since David Cameron became Prime Minister with a majority Conservative government.
Already there have been some highly controversial decisions being made. The Human Rights Act is seemingly being scrapped, and Cameron has voiced his support for fox hunting, which is likely to rear its ugly, inhumane head and become legalised again. David Cameron has appointed the unpopular Michael Gove as Justice Secretary, who is a supporter of the death penalty. He’s also appointed Caroline Dinenage as Equalities Secretary, when she previously said the state had ‘no right’ to redefine marriage, and voted against same-sex marriage. Cameron has also made Justin Thomlinson Work and Pensions Secretary, despite the fact he is opposed to protecting benefits for disabled children and cancer patients. There are also plans to introduce tough anti-strike laws intending to quieten down any voices which may disagree with the actions of the Conservative government.This has caused a public outcry even among Conservative voters.
Perhaps, most scarily, David Cameron has told his National Security Council his plans to crack down on radicalisation.
Cameron is likely to introduce an anti-extremism bill in his Queen’s Speech later in a couple of weeks. According to The Independent, his plans will include:
- Introducing banning orders for extremist organisations who use hate speech in public places, but whose activities fall short of proscription.
- New Extremism Disruption Orders to restrict people who seek to radicalise young people.
- Powers to close premises where extremists seek to influence others.
- Strengthening the powers of the Charity Commission to root out charities who misappropriate funds towards extremism and terrorism.
- Further immigration restrictions on extremists.
- A strengthened role for Ofcom to take action against channels which broadcast extremist content.
At face value, this appears to be good defensive measures – but this strict control could restrict personal freedoms, promote censorship and is likely to result in more scaremongering, more bad feeling towards diverse multiculturalism, in particular Islamophobia. It begs the question as to where the line is drawn in the concept of “extremism”, and any line drawn would be completely arbitrary and down to what his definition of extremism is. According to a briefing, he is believed to have said:
“For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens: as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone. It’s often meant we have stood neutral between different values. And that’s helped foster a narrative of extremism and grievance. This Government will conclusively turn the page on this failed approach… To belong here is to believe in these things. And it means confronting head-on the poisonous Islamist extremist ideology. Whether they are violent in their means or not, we must make it impossible for the extremists to succeed.”
The last sentence, if true, is potentially very frightening. For a Prime Minister that up until now has promoted a relatively laid back and non-confrontational image, to be put in an unopposed position of power with no blocks from the Liberal Democrats has perhaps allowed Cameron to emerge out of his ‘Caring Conservative’ shell. It seems Cameron’s ‘Chameleon Conservative’ colours are changing fast.
Whatever is going on, I for one am slightly regretting thinking negatively of the Liberal Democrats for going into Coalition with the Conservatives. Obviously a lot of promises were broken and this lost the electorate’s trust – but judging by the last five days I think I’m going to miss the Liberal Democrats in the next five years.