Political Opportunism of the Worst Kind

I'm annoyed. Very annoyed. Obviously recent world events (over a cartoon) are not edifying, but the UK government are seeking to make political capital from them.

On Monday, Charles Clarke said in the House:

The incident illustrates the merits of having all the necessary legislation on the statute book, which includes the offences created by the Terrorism Bill, including the proposed new offences of encouragement and glorification of terrorism, which I hope will now have the support of the whole House.

WHY? This badly worded legislation could have caught things which should not have been offences (the French resistance in World War 2 were branded 'terrorists' by the Germans - and one could find modern day examples) - and how does one define 'glorification'?. The fact is that we have legislation which can deal with people on the streets who are inciting murder. The law is there. It can be used. New laws are not needed - and I'm a firm believer in keeping the laws of the land no more complex than need be.

Mr. Clarke - this is not an event which requires knee jerk legislation, especially legislation that has a passing appearance of relevance but which would not have applied, and is worded in a poorly defined manner. Legislation which faced opposition when people could consider things more rationally. To push for extra legislation (which is irrelevant in this context) whilst ignoring the existing adequate laws would strike as being nothing more than a power grab.


When this issue came up in an interview on the Today programme, the question was asked (several times), what the new legislation would cover that existing legislation did not. An answer was not really supplied.

It is worth scrolling down after Charles Clarke's statement to read what David Davies has to say on the issue:

especially after the prosecution and conviction of Maya Evans, the lady who held a memorial ceremony at the Cenotaph, many people will conclude that the law is inconsistent and unjust if real offenders against public order go free and unchallenged.

Charles Clarke responds again here

The right hon. Gentleman is right to pay attention to the question of incitement to violence, and also, I would say, incitement to hatred. Freedom of speech has conventionally been proscribed in such areas for good reason, and that is why it is important to illustrate the merit of having the necessary legislation on the statute book, including the Terrorism Bill and its proposed new offence of the encouragement and glorification of terrorism. I draw hon. Members' attention to the fact that the Bill returns to the House on 15 February. Given the public position that the right hon. Gentleman has taken, I hope that Conservative Members will think long and hard about whether they need to revise their attitude to the offences in the Bill and support the Government's aim of getting it on to the statute book as quickly as possible

He's just like a dog that won't let go of a juicy looking bone!

I wonder how long it will be before he suggests that ID cards will have prevented people from inciting murder on the streets?