Orkney and Shetland Liberal Democrat MP, Alistair Carmichael, has today called for an “honest assessment” of the failures of counter terrorism policy in preventing radicalisation. Speaking in the House of Commons in response to a statement on this weekend’s terrorist attack in Reading, Mr Carmichael highlighted the lack of progress made by successive governments’ “tough” rhetoric to end terrorism.
Speaking in the House, Mr Carmichael said:
“Three months after I was first elected to this House in 2001, we saw the horrific events in New York and Washington on 9/11. That was followed by emergency anti-terror legislation. I struggle to think of a year since where we haven’t had anti-terror legislation of some sort but still the problem continues. I think we can be fairly certain that if the answer to this problem were to be found in the formulation of the law we would have found it by now.
“Can I say to the Home Secretary, as she considers the formulation of a new counter terror and counter extremism strategy, we need to have the involvement of people who do not have any skin in the game – who in the nicest way possible have been part of the failure that has taken us to this part – and in particular can that strategy be informed by an honest assessment of what it is going to take to end the radicalisation of those who find themselves within prisons?”
Responding for the Government, the Home Secretary, Priti Patel MP said:
“My Right Honourable Friend is absolutely right in terms of the need for objectivity and understanding in terms of how we formulate these strategies which are often evolving, they look at the behaviours of individuals which many of ourselves simply do not understand, and de-radicalisation is a complicated issue. More broadly it is right that we look at the whole approach holistically, understand failures of the past, what has worked in the past, but ensure that we have a comprehensive approach that really builds on constructive insights and learnings.”
Reacting after the exchange, Mr Carmichael said:
“For too long we have thought that we can beat the terrorists by striking poses such as “getting tough on terror”. That has manifestly failed. We have to look long and hard at the points and places where people become radicalised, whether as Islamic extremists, right-wing extremists, or any other twisted ideology.
“The Home Secretary must also accept that some of the policies and practices of her department, such as the creation of a “hostile environment in immigration”, all contribute to an environment where grievance is nurtured and extremism can breed.”