Radical Islamist extremists and neo-Nazis could be banned from making public appearances including on television under a gagging order proposed by the Conservatives with echoes of the broadcast ban that once applied to the voice of Gerry Adams.
Theresa May will announce the measure as part of a widely drawn counter-extremism strategy that is intended to catch so-called hate preachers such as Anjem Choudary, who was released on bail last week after being arrested on suspicion of encouraging terrorism.
The home secretary’s new orders would be aimed at those who undertake activities “for the purpose of overthrowing democracy”, a wide-ranging definition that could also catch a far wider range of political activists.
May will also set out proposals to ban non-violent extremist groups that fall short of the current threshold for being banned as terrorist-related organisations. The strategy is based on proposals that came out of David Cameron’s extremism working party set up following the murder of Lee Rigby in May last year.
May’s extremist disruption civil orders would contain wide-ranging restrictions on individuals who “undertake harmful activities” to spread, incite or justify hatred against people on grounds of race, religion, sexual orientation or disability.
The orders would be issued by a high court judge on an application from the police on the lower legal test of “balance of probabilities” rather than the stronger test of “beyond reasonable doubt”.
The restrictions are expected to include banning individuals from speaking at public events, protests and meetings, having to inform the police in advance of any public event, protest or meeting that they plan to attend, and banning individuals from particular public locations.
May also wants to include restrictions on banned individuals from broadcasting, from associating with named people, and restricting their use of social media or the internet by requiring them to submit in advance any proposed publication to the police. Banning orders would be time-limited to ensure they were proportional, but breaching the civil orders would be regarded as a criminal offence punishable with a jail term.
Yet a further illustration that diversity and liberty are incompatible. If you distil down the message that patriots and counterjihadists have, it is simply this: the presence of aliens causes problems. But when the presence of the aliens does, in fact, cause problems, the ruling class does not hail these patriots and counterjihadists for their foresight. On the contrary, it condemns them and lumps them in the same basket as the aliens causing the problems, as if chopping someone's head off and accurately predicting that another person was going to chop someone's head off were moral equivalents. Even if the Conservatives do not use the legislation to suppress patriot political activism, the law will still be on the statute books and you can be sure that a Labour government will make plentiful use of it in future.