The Government claims to be the protector of free speech, with Cabinet ministers regularly railing against “wokery” and cancel culture, and a free speech tsar now in place to guard against academic censorship.
New proposals to broaden the definition of extremism to include those who "undermine" Britain’s institutions and values are interesting then, not least for the degree to which they could stifle legitimate debate.
For Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, in the two decades since the "war on terror", free speech has been eroded to become a privilege given only to our leaders. Yasmin fears she herself could be criminalised under the new definition of extremism:
“Now we learn of government plans to brand as extremist anyone ‘undermining’ Britain’s institutions and values. All dissenters could be criminalised. I, who frequently rail against the monarchy, this government, and the House of Lords, could be classified a 'terrorist'. So would many of my colleagues.
“Liberals are repelled by the vulgar Suella Braverman, but it’s Michael Gove, who is working on these new proposals, we should be wary of. Like Kaa from The Jungle Book, stealthily he moves and coils, and aims for our fundamental rights.”
Yasmin Alibhai-Brown writes in the "i"
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