Reading the text of Prime Minister Gordon Brown's statement outlining his attempt at a "hearts and minds" counter-terrorism strategy given to
to the House of Commons today, simply confirms our initial impression:- Gordon Brown - countering terrorism with more quangos ?
There was the announcement of the review of the physical building security. This may well provide advice, but no actual money to strengthen the bomb blast resistance of various public buildings or crowded terrorist targets, We fear that this will simply result in checkpoints at the entrances to such buildings which will create queues of people outside the perimeters, which will themselves be even more of a terrorist target, exactly as has happened in Iraq..
There was a re-iteration of the UK Borders force plans (another policy taken from the Conservatives by Gordon Brown, after years of opposing it). For no good reason, January is set to be the date when there will be a relaxation of the arbitrary and bureaucratic airliner hand baggage restrictions, although there still seems to be some token restrictions on liquids.
The statements mentions approximately :
- at least 3 conferences
- 2 academic reviews
- 3 consultations
- over 20 named Quangos or NDPBs
- 11 new committees or forums
23 new specialist units
- 2 new national websites
- 2 existing websites
- 10 existing projects
All of which will presumably be getting some unspecified amount of tax payers' money.
Will all these new committees and bodies be stuffed full of Labour party apparatchiki, appointed and paid for through Government patronage and our money ?
The other item of note is the delay in the publication of the Privy Councillors' report into the use of electronic intercept evidence until January - they were meant to have reported in November i,.e. this month.
Is this a tactic to ensure that there is no informed detailed Parliamentary debate about this during the forthcoming Counter Terrorism Bill ?
the UK Border Agency - which will have 25,000 staff
As part of our intensifying measures to isolate extremists,a new unit bringing together police and security intelligence and research will identify, analyse and assess not just the inner circle of extremist groups, but those at risk of falling under their influence, and share their advice and insights.
we will sponsor at home and abroad, including for the first time in Pakistan, a series of national and local events to counter extremist propaganda. The next stage will draw upon the work commissioned by the Economic and Social Research Council, Kings College and the Royal Society for Arts on how best to deal with radicalisation both at home and abroad.
The Home Secretary is inviting the largest global technology and internet companies to work together to ensure that our best technical expertise is galvanised to counter online incitement to hatred
The Great Firewall of the United Kingdom ? Even more snooping and surveillance ?
I also welcome the decision by the Royal Television Society and Society of Newspaper Editors to hold a conference and regional debates on how to ensure accurate and balanced reporting of issues related to terrorism in the media.
To ensure charities are not exploited by extremists, a new unit in the Charity Commission will strengthen governance and accountability.
A specialist unit in the Prisons Service will be tasked with stopping extremists using prison networks to plot future activities.
What "prison networks" exactly ? The internet ? Mobile phones ? Or just people talking to each other ?
When did it stop being the normal job of Prison Governors and Warders, to prevent future criminal plots, of any sort, being hatched in prison ?
And because young people in the criminal justice system are especially vulnerable to extremist influences, we are making further funding available through the Youth Justice Board, the National Offenders Management Service and the many voluntary agencies that work with young people in trouble to support young people who may be targeted for recruitment by extremist groups
How much new money is this ?
Following evidence that some of those involved in promoting violent extremism have made use of outdoor activity centres and sports facilities, we are working with Sport England to provide guidance for the sector to ensure that these facilities are not abused.
Backed up by a new website to share best practice, a new board of experts will advise local authorities, local councillors and local communities on tackling radicalization and those promoting hate.
As the newly constituted Mosques and Imams National Advisory Body recognises however, the governance of mosques could be strengthened to help serve communities better and challenge those who fuel hate.
and the Secretary for Communities will be announcing an independent review to examine with communities how to build the capacity of Islamic seminaries, learning from other faith communities as well as experience overseas.
In addition to updated advice for universities on how to deal with extremism on campus, the Secretary for Skills and the Higher Education Minister will later this month invite universities to lead a debate on how we maintain academic freedom whilst ensuring that extremists can never stifle debate or impose their views. And we will now consult also on how to support further education colleges.
And the Secretary of State for Culture is working with the museums, libraries and archives council to agree a common approach to deal with inflammatory and extremist material that some seek to distribute through public libraries, whilst also protecting freedom of speech.
We know that young people of school age can be exposed to extremist messages. The Secretary of State for Children will be convening a new forum of headteachers to advise on what more we can do together to protect young people and build bridges across communities.
To ensure young people have the opportunity to learn about diversity and faith in modern Britain, we will work in partnership with religious education teachers to promote the national framework for teaching religious education in schools including making sure children learn about all faiths.
An advisory group will work with local communities to promote the citizenship education classes run by mosque schools in Bradford and elsewhere.
And I can announce that one essential part of this will be to twin schools of different faiths with our new £2 million pound school linking programme, supported by a new national website and School Linking Network.
I am also announcing today a youth panel to advise the Government --- learning from youth projects like the Youth Debating Circles in Birmingham, Tag TV in Tower Hamlets, the 'Extreme News' educational website in Oldham and the Green Light Project's 'one stop' website in Dudley which all enable young people to debate and discuss issues of concern - as does the work of the Youth Parliament who have been running debates about the impact of terrorism on young people.
And we are sponsoring and encouraging a series of national and local mentoring programmes for young
* A Business In The Community Muslim mentoring programme linking 100 young people with professional mentors and role models;
* New leadership training sponsored by Common Purpose, the Karimia Institute, Crime Concern and Muslim Hands;
* And local youth leadership schemes in Blackburn, Waltham Forest, Leeds and in partnership with Tottenham Hotspur football club in Haringey.
After discussion with Muslim women, a new advisory group has been set up by the Secretary for Communities. This will advise on the access of women to mosques and their management committees.
A green paper will be published to encourage interfaith groups to come together in every constituency of the country. I am also inviting the Higher Education Funding Council to investigate the idea of setting up in Britain a European Centre of Excellence for Islamic studies.
N.B. no new money for this, presumably they will send begging letters to the various Arab oil sheikhs.
And in addition to joint work with the French and German governments on building an appreciation of Islamic and Muslim heritage across Europe, the Arts Council England, Tate Gallery, Victoria and Albert Museum and British Library will all be taking forward projects to promote greater understanding of the contribution of Islam to European history and culture.
And just as the British Council is connecting young people across the world through school twinning and volunteering exchanges, I am announcing that we will finance a rising number of young people from all communities to volunteer overseas.
Will they really be funding travel and exchanges and projects to send British students to Pakistan, Afghanistan or Somalia, and vice versa ??
Finally Mr Speaker, the intercept review will report in January,
Why the delay ? The basic arguments must surely have been covered in the 5 previous reviews in the last few years.
It the Privy Councillors were meant to report this month i.e. November ? What have they been doing in the summer recess ?
we believe a consensus now exists on post-charge questioning and the Home Secretary is beginning a new round of consultations with parties and communities on detailed proposals on pre-charge detention where we believe we can establish a cross-party consensus.
Really ? We await the details of this behind the scenes political deal.
Will the police be forced to show some actual new evidence, or will they just use this mechanism to prolong the interrogation of suspects for weeks and months, hoping to get a confession ?