The Home Secretary has announced her intention to introduce new powers for police to combat the rising threat of extremism, as more Britons flock to Syria and the Islamic state continues to push its borders. A recently unveiled counter-terrorism bill outlines measures which will force internet providers to retain protocol recording URLs in order to track individual users, as well as state intervention in schools, universities and councils nationwide requiring them to crack down on radicalisation. With beheadings appearing on our TVs in a regular, grisly chain over the past year which could be added to at any time, the possibility of Britain openly welcoming these new authoritative measures out of fear and disillusionment seems disturbingly real.
The world, as it seems, is in a Clancy novel of a state, and as a result the most cynical public Britain has seen since Thatcher is pulsing with resentment for what it sees as a weak and ineffective #Government. The conflict in the middle-east, which never fully cooled down since the 2003 invasion of Iraq, has had a fresh resurgence in its intensity with the formation and expansion of ISIL. With these developments, the ripples of the ongoing war on terror are being felt more and more in Britain. Justifying her proposed shrinking of civil liberties at a London anti-terror conference, May told attendees that 40 planned terror attacks had been neutralised since the 7/7 bombings in 2005, and went on to explain possible new measures to tackle the threat of internal extremist cells. These measures included a reformed convention of "Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures" which will allow some authorities to forcibly move suspects to another area of the country, granting border police the power to cancel passports for up to thirty days, temporary exclusion orders to control possible jihadists returning to the UK, and banning insurance companies from covering ransoms. Although the proposals (which go before parliament on Wednesday) have already been condemned by human rights pressure groups, May said the bill would not fully patch over what she euphemised as a "capability gap" in the authorities' ability to monitor online communication.
The home secretary closed her speech by admitting that an agreement within the coalition had not been reached, and confidently stating the Tories would "have to wait until after the general election to address fully the increasing urgency of this problem." The confidence in this statement struck me as incredibly noteworthy. Either May was using the spotlight to drop in a little morale boost to loyal voters, seized by an uncharacteristic, competitive flare, or she really was completely blind to the looming, bright-purple storm cloud on the horizon. With the economy still in its gruelling six-year rut, and the Tory reputation seeming almost unsalvageable, it was also interesting to ponder the repercussions of this bill should it be passed.
The sheer soft passivity of Labour, the Lib Dems and the Tories in recent years has left many of us sick to the stomach, and looking hungrily for alternatives. This more assertive approach to anti-terror politics may be the government's response to the sweep of defections by both ministers and voters to the perceived hard-edge policies of UKIP. Though the growing popularity of Euroscepticism seems to have given the mainstream parties a jolt of fearful activity, the growing weight behind UKIP's cause carries an ominous undertone with it. After the European election earlier this year, figures showed a drop in BNP votes from 943,598 in 2009 to 179,694, and that the UKIP count had almost doubled from 2,498,226. The party is dangerous, as it appears to be a mongrel cocktail of disgruntled centrists fed up with the big three, and EDL-type troglodytes with sinister agendas, who can't help but let them slip out when appearing in public. With these new measures, the UKIP supporters who would happily exchange liberty for security are likely to only see the increase in foiled terror plots, and simply take it as an increase in threat, believing the coalition still isn't doing enough to protect Britain. On the other side of it all, leftists are losing all sight of the dying glimmer of socialism still in the Labour manifesto, and an invasion on civil liberties on this scale would do the main parties no favours in 2015. Though the thought of some bloated MI5 analyst going through my search history isn't exactly appealing, the bill is understandable in the Tories' position. If our mates Nick, Dave and Ed continue to roll over in the face of Brussels and nutters like Anjem Choudary, they'll only serve to shove us all further to the left or right, ultimately dividing the country and, at worst, crippling it. #Military