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The Revolt against Trump Begins at Home

Labour Campaign Against Prevent

Labour Campaign Against Prevent

Why the Labour Campaign Against Prevent must be the cornerstone to combating the Trump effect in Britain

The weeks since Donald Trump’s inauguration have already heralded a hideous acceleration of sexist, homophobic, racist and xenophobic rhetoric and legislation. This has emboldened the populist far right and created a palpable sense of fear and uncertainty for vulnerable minority communities on both sides of the Atlantic.

However, as the headlines centre on Trump’s ‘Muslim Ban’ it is imperative that we remember the new President and his Islamophobic policies did not materialise in a vacuum. Muslims across the Western world have been increasingly subject to abuse, scapegoating and state surveillance for over a decade now. And whilst the spotlight has focused on the US in recent weeks, less attention has been paid to the racism that runs deep within our own institutions. 

Though her political style is perhaps more palatable, our Prime Minister’s policies are not drastically different from those of her US counterpart. Right here on our doorstep, Theresa May is refusing amnesty to child refugees, building a wall in Calais, unjustly and illegally detaining and deporting record numbers of migrants and asylum seekers, and spying on students and minorities through the Islamophobic “Prevent” strategy.

Prevent refers to Section 26 of the Government’s Counter Terrorism and Security Act that was passed as law two years ago. It contains a statutory duty on specified authorities to have “due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism.”

The legislation has been strongly criticised for its use of ambiguous and politically charged language, including phrases such as ‘British values’ and ‘non-violent extremism.’ The government can provide no legal definitions for these terms that do not contravene basic freedoms of speech and thought, and so implementation relies on purely subjective and heavily politicised preconceptions of ‘terrorism,’ ‘extremism,’ and ‘British’.

Prevent has been further criticised for its McCarthyist tendencies in casting all Muslims, and those of perceived Muslim background, as suspects. Its use of the ‘conveyor belt theory’, which focuses on ideology as the core driver of terrorism, is regarded as particularly controversial because it criminalises thought processes assumed to lead individuals to being drawn into terrorism – in this case Islam.

However, the 22 factors contained in the Extremism Risk Guidance (ERG) 22+, the framework of factors theoretically linked to extremist actions that Prevent is based on, have no basis in empirical evidence. The Government has refused several Freedom of Information requests for public access to the underlying document.

Furthermore, it is extremely difficult to predict acts of terrorism or to prove ‘pre-criminality,’ and the claim that radical ideology is the precursor to acts of terrorism has been widely discredited by many revered academics as well as increasingly within the British government itself. In his previous capacity as shadow Home Secretary, Andy Burnham described the strategy as “toxic” and expressed concerns that it sowed “mutual suspicion and distrust” between the Police and Muslim communities. Diane Abbott, who filled his position, has stated her apprehension that the corrosive nature of Prevent actually means that it “fails in its stated objective to make us safer.” And the NUS, NUT, NASUWT and UCU unions have been joined by other human rights and civil liberties organisations and campaigners in calling for the reform or repeal of Prevent.

The Labour Campaign Against Prevent (LCAP) was set up last year in order to work through the Labour Party to repeal the Prevent legislation. We seek to mobilise Labour networks to reach into communities at risk of being targeted by Prevent to educate and empower them to defend themselves and fight back. We also work to hold our local public authorities and politicians directly to account regarding their implementation of this legislation, as well as to work within the larger Labour structures to campaign for the Party to commit to repealing Prevent in its next election manifesto.

We have set up and drawn links between grassroots groups, with plans to establish many more. They have begun to paint localised pictures of the implementation of Prevent, to gather testimonies, and to hold panel talks and open meetings to raise awareness and discuss further action. We have also drawn up model motions to be passed through Labour Party and Union branches once enough support has been gathered. These are freely available upon request, to be used by anyone committed to our cause.

The Labour Party first introduced the Prevent guidelines back in 2005 and strengthened the initiative after the 7/7 bombings. The party has been losing BAME voters for a number of years now, including in large part because of the Iraq War and the feeling that the Party takes BAME votes for granted without listening to its supporters. However, Corbyn’s rise to power has engaged and empowered many new members who have begun to build active and progressive anti-racist spaces within the Party, building on the inspiring legacy of Black Sections before us. The Labour Campaign Against Prevent forms just one part of this movement to transform the Labour Party into a Party that fights for all.

The profile of Prevent is increasing daily, with many of the more nonsensical stories hitting national newspapers, such as the recent case of two young boys being questioned by police after playing with a toy gun because of the colour of their skin. It is imperative that we act now to capture this wave of anger in the face of Trump’s bigotry and hatred, and highlight the racist structures that pervade the political establishment and institutions at home in order to mobilise a strong resistance movement to combat and dismantle them.

Despite the heartening furore over our own Prime Minister’s silent acquiescence to the politics of President Trump, it is not enough for us just to take to the streets. There is an urgent need to organise the Left within the Labour Party to create active and progressive anti-racist spaces in order to influence Party policy to begin to tackle the structural racism inherent within British institutions and society. So whilst it is important to extend our solidarity and collective resistance to our brothers and sisters across the pond, our real fight begins right here in the UK.

If you feel that you may have been a victim of Prevent, call the NUS helpline on 07741 264 037 for support and advice.

To get involved in the campaign or to hear more about what we’re doing, email us at: lcaprevent@gmail.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LCAPrevent/

Twitter: @LCAPrevent

11 Comments

  1. Tim Pendry says:

    That must be one of the most hysterical articles I have read in a very long time … pure Dave Spart!

  2. Imran Khan says:

    Diedre actually, Tim. But apart from that, spot on. Not many of the supporters of her line rushing to cheer her on. It would seem that even they are embarrassed.

  3. Bazza says:

    The problem is a significant number in the West see Muslims as homogenous (all the same) when what are so-called IS but 1% of one perspective of Islam.
    Perhaps we don’t need a top down Prevent but a grassroots, bottom up, community -led Unite campaign.
    The tragedy is a very very tiny number of Muslims fall for a simple solution and become so-called ISists when they should be left wing, democratic, peaceful socialists.

    1. Imran Khan says:

      The problem has been when the state goes to the self appointed leaders of the ” community” they end up with Islamists. MAB, and the rest so back to square one. Otherwise your post is correct. A tiny minority.

  4. Chris says:

    Hahaha, if you think I, as a Labour left-winger, could care less about Trump, you’re sorely mistaken!

    1. Imran Khan says:

      Thanks Chris. Yeh, ok, right!

  5. Karl Stewart says:

    There’s an important point to be made about the “Prevent” programme and the developing opposition to it among people in the education sector as a result of incidents of institutional racism such as the shocking story of the two young boys arrested by police.

    Unfortunately, the article suffers from a certain type of ultra-left political style which requires everything to be ‘linked’ to everything else and that forces everything into some kind of overall ‘global narrative’.

    It’s a pity, because the story of the two young children being arrested for playing with a toy gun is truly outrageous. And should be highlighted as much as possible.

    1. Imran Khan says:

      It is dangerous to play with anything that can be thought a real gun except behind closed doors. There is no place for them in the street due to the amount of real ones that are about, it could have been a fatal situation.

      1. Karl Stewart says:

        Don’t be ridiculous Imran. Read the linked article.

        These were two young boys playing with a toy gun like young boys do everywhere.

        But they were unfortuate enough to be the only dark-skinned family living in a small village and so in the minds of the local village police, they became suspects, rather than mischevous boys.

        Had they been fair-skinned, nothing would have happened to them.

        A clear instance of institutional racism.

        1. R.B.Stewart says:

          Nice one Karl you skewered IK (if this is his real name).

  6. Stephen Bellamy says:

    It is hard to take the alleged Labour Party campaign against Prevent seriously when so many LP figures are on the policy council of the Muslim hating/baiting Henry Jackson Society, fingered by Hope Not Hate as an organisation responsible for dragging Muslim hate into the mainstream.

    http://wp.me/p5W2a1-kf

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