The Limits of British Values

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The UK Government recently announced its Counter Extremism Strategy, a document which refers to ‘British values’ 54 times. Within this report, extremism is defined as ‘the vocal or active opposition to our fundamental values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and the mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs.’ These are certainly fine values — which British governments have consistently failed to support.

Britain has been responsible for the undermining of democracy, turning a blind eye to abuses by its allies, using extraordinary rendition to get around the rule of law, passing over the denial of individual liberties to dissidents, and the evasion of the dismal situation for religious minorities. Ironically, David Cameron’s first act after the unveiling of this act was setting trade deals with China, hardly notable for its democracy, rule of law, individual liberty or tolerance for different faiths. This was followed by a rock star reception for Indian PM Narendra Modi, whose rule has seen a shocking increase in Hindu supremacist ideology and attacks on minorities.

The paranoia around ‘entryism’, defined as ‘extremist individuals, groups and organisations consciously seeking to gain positions of influence to better enable them to promote their own extremist agendas’, has a particularly rich irony, when many extremist individuals have been invited to Number 10 for tea. For decades, extremists have had no need for deception. Britain has supported theocrats and dictators as long as it served British business interests, whether under Tory or Labour rule. This list includes Muhammad Zia ul-Haq and the Taliban, primary architects of the Islamisation of South Asia; Muammar Gaddafi, and so forth. Saudi Arabia’s repression of its people and its disrespect for human rights is almost identical to that of the Daesh Islamic State. It is also the major source of toxic Wahhabi-generated propaganda that has been so influential in fomenting extremism. Britain’s long trade relationship with this state is a flagrant exhibition of double standards.

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