The Home Secretary on Terrorism and Civil Liberties

So said Theresa May:

It’s well documented that Labour’s draconian terrorism laws eroded our civil liberties, alienated many and affronted every single one of us.

But it’s perverse that at the same time as they talked tough on locking people up for ninety days without charge and introducing ID cards, they refused to challenge the ideology behind the threat we face, they engaged with extremists, and they failed to encourage people to integrate into and participate in our society.

So we will turn their failed approach on its head.

We’re reviewing the counter-terrorism laws ahead of the Freedom Bill.

We’ve restricted the use of stop and search powers.

And I am proud to say that the Government’s first piece of legislation was to scrap ID cards once and for all.

I want the message to go out to every corner of our country: this is a government that knows every British subject is born free, everybody is innocent until proven guilty and everybody is equal before the law.

But let the message also go out that we will not tolerate anybody who seeks to abuse those liberties.

Foreign hate preachers will no longer be welcome here. Those who step outside the law to incite hatred and violence will be prosecuted and punished. And we will stand up to anybody who incites hatred and violence, who supports attacks on British troops, or who supports attacks on civilians anywhere in the world.

We will tackle extremism by challenging its bigoted ideology head-on.

We will promote our shared values. We will work only with those with moderate voices. And we will make sure that everybody integrates and participates in our national life.

Theresa May is not being entirely fair. In fact, this is pretty much what Hazel Blears did do.

Tony Blair was also very clear that the most important task was to challenge the ideology underpinning hatred, bigotry and terrorism.

Not all of Hazel Blears’ colleagues agreed with her. There were a number of Ministers who did attend public meetings at which hate preachers or supporters of terrorism also spoke.

Nevertheless, Labour’s record on excluding hate preachers is a good one. It is reassuring to hear that we won’t be let down by the Tories.

Indeed, if you are interested in reading up on the theory behind the speech, you couldn’t do better than re-reading Shiraz Maher and Martyn Frampton’s excellent pamphlet, “Choosing Our Friends Wisely