The Home Secretary has vowed to attack those perceived as British extremists with new laws, the aggressive application of existing legislation (and more blistering political rhetoric). In an article for the Daily Telegraph, where she speaks of foreign “hate preachers”, she says “We must give ourselves all the legal powers we need to prevail… I am looking at the case for banning orders for extremist groups that fall short of the threshold for terrorist prescription as well as for new civil powers to target extremists who seek to radicalise others”. She speaks of stripping dual nationals of their citizenship (the law prevents her from doing the same to sole British nationals as this would render them stateless) and investigating and prosecuting those who return from Syria and Iraq.
The occasion for this intemperate and illiberal outgushing was in part the video killing of the American freelance photojournalist James Foley in Syria this month (from his accent the killer is believed to be British). But her words will also serve to stir up a section of the traditional Conservative Party loyalists in the run up to next year’s general election.
New laws made in hast and hard times have a bad record for imposing restrictions on civil society that would never have been tolerated if granted calm scrutiny. Law-making should not be a frenzied and vengeful process.