Since the 7/7 attacks in July 2005, the number of islam-inspired terrorist attacks in the UK have steadily increased. The potential for even greater casualties remains a real threat. It is not enough to demand that we “have difficult conversations”. As a party and as a country, we must move on from the rhetoric. We must insist that the problem and its causes are acknowledged for what they are and must start to offer meaningful, practical solutions.
Much like political parties, terrorist organisations have to demonstrate activity and success in order to attract financial sponsors and recruits. Islamic State (IS) is under massive military pressure in Syria and Iraq and, to balance their setbacks, they can be expected to initiate further attacks across Europe and the UK. To do so they may well mobilise some of the thousands of people who have returned to Europe, having fought with IS. These people have now military experience.
There are additional risk factors:
– Many young Muslim men, here and abroad, are particularly vulnerable to extremist messaging, having grown up against the backdrop of the wars against Al Qaeda and Islamic State and against Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria. They have had comprehensive exposure through the internet to islamic propaganda by home-grown and foreign fundamentalist preachers. They also have had access to information on how to carry out terrorist attacks.
– Foreign funding of Independent Schools and the occasional use of Saudi Arabian and Arabic language textbooks isolates Muslim children from British society as a whole and encourages a sense that Muslim communities in the UK stand separately to British society.
– Ever larger Muslim communities create significant governance and policing challenges. These communities are often relatively closed and resistant to British laws and rules. Cuts to policing and public services exacerbate the problem.
– The integration and assimilation of immigrant communities in the UK was, up until the turn of the century, just about manageable. The rate of immigration over the last two decades has changed the situation. We simply can no longer expect a natural process of assimilation to occur. The numbers make that impossible. Cuts to local government budgets and a failure to acknowledge the problem have contributed to a now unsustainable situation.
As a result of multiculturalism, the coherence and stability of indigenous British society has been undermined and in some areas displaced. We also now live in an age in which the meaning of ‘British Identity’ and culture have been eroded by the EU and the liberal-left.
So what is to be done?
At a minimum, the following steps should be taken:
1) Cuts to policing must be reversed. An additional 20,000 police and staff should be recruited. The pool of intelligence analysts, severely reduced over the past 7 years, must be re-built as a matter of urgency. In practice, it takes two years to train such people. We must start now.
2) UK Border Force has been cut by around 32%. Border Force is responsible for the checking and control of people and goods crossing UK borders. Border Force cuts must be reversed.
3) The UK must, as a matter of urgency, develop a national border strategy to ensure coordination and coherence amongst all the agencies working on our borders and to strengthen the detection and interdiction rates of illegal attempts to cross our land, sea and air borders.
4) It is an offence to view, download or disseminate extremist material on the internet. This legislation must be rigidly and robustly enforced and internet providers must be made accountable for allowing their platforms to be used for the dissemination of extremist propaganda as well as information encouraging terrorist attacks or useful in their preparation and execution.
5) The Treason Act must be taken back out of the Public Order Act (where Tony Blair put it) and made fit for purpose. The new Act should include provisions against the planning, preparing, assisting or collecting information on how to commit a terrorist act, as well the committing or attempt to commit a terrorist act, with the purpose of undermining UK state institutions, the economy or social cohesion. It should constitute an aggravating offence to that of terrorism and should apply to all UK citizens.
6) Individuals who go abroad to fight for terrorist organisations must be punishable under the new treason act. Imagine someone going to fight for Germany or Japan in World War II and then coming back saying “sorry”!
7) Non-British citizens guilty of terrorism, condoning terrorism or in any way supportive of terrorism, or of terrorist acts, or of inciting others to condone or participate in a terrorist act, must be detained and deported as a priority.
8) All funding from abroad, of independent schools, except where specific provision is made under law in specific cases, must cease.
9) Religious education must be taught in all schools and must commence with an introduction to Christianity as the basis for the British Constitution and Law.
10) The national curriculum must be a truly national curriculum. Variations applied by academies and other independent schools must be strictly limited and monitored.
11) The use of foreign, islamic text books in UK schools must cease.
12) Within a reasonable period of time, all imams preaching in British mosques must be British citizens, trained in the UK and funded from UK sources. Visiting imams must be vetted by the Home Office and granted a licence for specific purposes and a brief and limited period only, on passing the vetting. The Home Office must have absolute authority to deny such licences.
13) The UK should not accept asylum applications from people who have transited another country of safety prior to reaching British borders.
14) Immigration from Muslim communities must be curtailed. We must allow the security and law enforcement agencies to get on top of the situation, rather than confront them with ever increasing numbers of immigrants who cannot be vetted.
15) The UK must leave the Dublin 3 agreement at the earliest possible opportunity. This agreement makes it, in practical terms, extremely difficult for the UK to deny entry to non-EU citizen immigrants entering the UK illegally from an EU member state, or to deport them.
16) Sharia courts are incompatible with Human Rights and have no place in British society. It would be difficult to enforce a law banning Sharia courts, but they must not be condoned and the police and Home Office must be robust in insisting that there is only one law in the UK: that is the law enacted in Parliament. Sharia law and courts hold no lawful authority and the government should embark on a public awareness campaign to that effect. Legislation must be enacted to make the public enforcement of Sharia law or the activities of so called ‘Sharia Police’ illegal (a criminal act).
17) The ‘Prevent’ programme must be reviewed to reflect lessons learned. That review must take account of the many arguments that it isolates communities and must incorporate the threat from left-wing as well as religious and right-wing extremism. We must not forget that it was left- wing terror groups such as the Red Army Faction that dominated headlines in Europe in the 1970’s, and that some of the activities of ‘Antifa’ and others clearly intimidate the public and approach the definition of terrorism.
18) A comprehensive national strategy for the assimilation of all immigrants to the UK must be developed, properly resourced, applied and monitored. It must include greater emphasis on the English language, on British values and British identity. Presently UK citizenship tests emphasise that Britain is an open multi-cultural society, open to all cultures. It does nothing to specify that immigrants must respect British culture, British society and the British way of life and are expected to assimilate. It does almost nothing to promote or protect our own society and culture.
I have frequently stated that the core task of UKIP is the delivery of BREXIT in such a way as to propel our country on the path of prosperity, security and optimism, to provide our people with a voice in how their communities are shaped.
Countering terrorism and the negative impact of immigration are therefore key aspects of what must be a broad and comprehensive UKIP programme. If elected leader, I shall appoint a Counter Terrorism spokesman and add the assimilation of immigrants into British society to the party’s Immigration portfolio.
Our party cannot simply demand that we acknowledge the threat. We must contribute concrete solutions based upon the framework I described above. Our role, in this respect, is to lead the national debate with authority: objectively, constructively and fairly, but to do so as part of a wider platform of domestic policies that can together deliver the prosperity, security and optimism that the British people deserve.