These fear factory speeches are utterly self-defeating

“Monday’s pre-legislation speech by the head of MI5, Jonathan Evans … was a classic ‘frightener’, reminiscent of Alastair Campbell rolling the pitch for a headline-grabbing initiative. ‘As I speak,’ intoned Evans with full dramatic effect, ‘terrorists are methodically and intentionally targeting young people and children in this country, radicalising, indoctrinating and grooming young, vulnerable people to carry out acts of terrorism.’ Note the sexual connotation of ‘grooming’….

“Scaring the public as an act of policy may win a few headlines but it is stupid. It worked short term in 2003 and may prop up yet another terrorism law in yesterday’s Queen’s speech, a law presumably requested by MI5. But it can only damage British liberty in the long term.

“The Blair government ruined Britain’s reputation for fair treatment among the moderate Muslims on whom stopping a tiny number of fanatics now depends. Abroad it declared wars, bombed Muslim capitals, killed civilians, and initiated a crusade for ‘western values’ among people sceptical of their virtues. At home it extended terrorism laws to make every dark-skinned Briton feel he or she is being made a scapegoat. While Britain remains adequately safe from attack, it has been at a wretched cost.”

Simon Jenkins in the Guardian, 7 November 2007