David Cameron’s duplicity and hypocrisy never fails to reach new
levels. When he first called for a ban on Hizb ut-Tahrir it emerged
that previously he had written thanking the group for their views they
had forwarded regarding the British government response to the Israeli
bombardment of Lebanon in 2006.
At this year’s Tory party conference Cameron once again called for a ban on Hizb ut-Tahrir. He provided no evidence for a ban, no arguments that the group was engaged in violence and offered no legal reasoning. Instead, he chose to lie to the conference about the views of Hizb ut-Tahrir. Former Home Secretary John Reid confirmed only a few weeks ago that there was no evidence for a ban and government advisor Patrick Mercer further confirmed on BBC Newsnight that a legal challenge to such a ban had a strong chance of success. Like Tony Blair, in whose image he has moulded himself, Cameron would like to rule a Britain where political views that dissented from his own could be banned upon a Prime Ministerial whim.
However, the real duplicity here is not his reliance upon lies to make his case. There is a stark contrast with his current populist call for banning a political group and statements made by him and other prominent Tories regarding the government’s proposals to extend the criteria for proscription in 2006.
On 13/02/2006 Cameron wrote an article in the Telegraph in which he said:"It is the same with the "glorification" of terror. All politicians condemn those who incite violence. Where we disagree is how to differentiate between praise for a freedom fighter and encouraging people to murder others……. So the House of Lords – Lib Dems, cross-bench peers and Conservatives – amended the glorification clause of the Terrorism Bill to ensure it effectively targets those who pose the greatest risk. This has been done by defining the "glorification" of terrorism far more precisely – as "describing terrorism in such a way that the listener infers he should emulate it". In one step, that protects free speech while criminalising incitement. It is a hard-nosed defence of security and freedom."
Cameron is not the only one in his party playing this game. Shadow Home Secretary, David Davis, who recently called for a HT ban whilst making false associations with Abu Musab Al Zarqawi and others, said in Parliament that "The term "glorification" still remains too broad, and I am not convinced that it is necessary or desirable." [Hansard 26th October 2005]. In a later interview he said that, "Glorification is a very woolly word. I mean Charles Clarke says well it came from the UN, actually one of the critics of this, policy is the UN High Commissioner on Refugees, himself; so it’s not got any particular UN locus. In truth it’s very vague. I mean you could, you could theoretically lock people up for singing Irish songs or for, or for talking about how good Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress is and so on." [BBC Politics Show 12th February 2006]. Both Cameron and Davis argued against the government’s glorification clause, yet both want a more draconian measure – i.e. the banning of an organisation that does not even fall under the clause.
The Conservative Party position was very clear throughout the debate. Dominic Grieve said on behalf of the Conservative Party in a Parliamentary debate on 15 February 2006, "Glorification is not clear, precise, adequately defined or based on a rationally discernible principle. By plucking the concept out of the air, the Government will cause themselves and the courts that have to apply the law great difficulties. Also that I do not want glorification to be included in the Bill under any circumstances. I shall vote to ensure that that does not happen. If it does, we shall prolong a debate that is unworthy of the House. Glorification has no place in our law. It is incapable of proper interpretation and proper implementation; it risks criminalising those whom the Government do not intend to criminalise and, as a concept, it is frankly rubbish."
William Hague challenged Tony Blair on 15 February 2006 on these proposals saying: "Would not it be better to have a watertight law designed to catch the guilty rather than a press-release law designed to catch the headlines?" His own party leader, who emulates Blair in almost every way, adopts very similar headline catching gimmicks.
It is very clear that Cameron and his colleagues do not really believe in the libertarian principles they claim to champion, especially when they cannot argue against criticisms of the ugly side of Britain – its long standing colonial foreign policy. Rather they believe in Machiavellian principles – to say anything to win popularity and to hope no one remembers when you contradict yourself weeks later. While playing politics with security may score short term political points, no one could respect politicians who lie to score their points, sell their principles for a cheap win and make U-turns on their policies in the most cynical way.