Government's terrorism policy attacked

THE Government's counter-terrorism policy is being damaged by ministers' vote-seeking and party political interests, a new report has claimed.The Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust study, co-authored by Andrew Blick and Tufyal Choudhury at Democratic Audit in Essex University's Human Rights Centre, said sensible plans to combat terrorism were being “submerged” by the Government's “electoral motives”.

By Roddy Ashworth

THE Government's counter-terrorism policy is being damaged by ministers' vote-seeking and party political interests, a new report has claimed.

The Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust study, co-authored by Andrew Blick and Tufyal Choudhury at Democratic Audit in Essex University's Human Rights Centre, said sensible plans to combat terrorism were being “submerged” by the Government's “electoral motives”.

The report accused Prime Minister Tony Blair and Home Secretary John Reid of playing to a tabloid agenda and “trying to win over the white working class vote”.


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Anti-terror measures which were having a disproportionate effect on Britain's Muslim community risked alienating people within Islam who could play a vital role in defeating extremism, it added.

The report's authors urged the Government to abandon talk of a “war on terror” and to review its foreign policy.

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Mr Blair's “close and publicly unquestioning stance” alongside the United States was damaging Britain's influence on global politics, they suggested.

The report said: “The Government's counter-terrorism campaign is often driven by party political and electoral motives that are 'submerging' its own 'sensible' counter-terrorism strategy.

“The actions of ministers, particularly Home Secretary John Reid, could have a 'boomerang effect' by alienating the Muslim communities whose trust and co-operation are vital.”

The study said: “We fear that the recent rhetorical stance taken by ministers is counter-productive and will militate against both winning the co-operation of the Muslim communities and creating unity around their counter-terrorism strategy.”

Ministerial attacks on the judiciary for confounding their anti-terror legislation were “unfounded and constitutionally illiterate”, it claimed.

But a Home Office spokeswoman said: “As the head of MI5 made clear only a few days ago, the threat we face is very serious indeed and ministers make no apology for bringing in tough new laws and putting the fight against terrorism at the heart of the work of the Home Office.

“Over recent months the Home Secretary has been engaged in a series of events both public and private within Muslim communities in the UK.

“This is an engagement he intends to continue precisely because he recognises that it is only by working with our communities that we can defeat terrorism.”

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