On Theresa May and extremism

Theresa May’s McCarthyist credentials took quite a boost today, as she announced a drive against “entryist” infiltration of the public sector, charities, and businesses. The Home Office definition of “entryism” is, according to the Guardian, “extremist individuals, groups and organisations consciously seeking to gain positions of influence to better enable them to promote their own extremist agendas.” Those devious fuckers, hey?

What’s odd about this definition is, the repeated use of “extremist” aside, it seems a remarkably good definition of exactly why most people do enter the public sector. One presumes that Theresa herself sought to gain a position of influence—it seems unlikely that one becomes Home Secretary by accident, or against one’s will—and one presumes that she did so in order to be able to promote her own bigotry—sorry, agenda. So is she an entryist? Well that will have to turn on whether you consider her an extremist or not, because that seems to be the only thing that picks out an entryist from an ordinary, principled public servant. Fortunately, Theresa herself has provided a definition of extremism: “the vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and the mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs.”

Can we talk about Saudi Arabia, now? Saudi Arabia is not a democracy, it is a theocratic monarchy. In Saudi Arabia, according to Amnesty International, the security services carry out arbitrary arrests, detain people for considerably longer than the country’s laws permit, and generally act outside the rule of even those atrocious laws that are in place. In Saudi Arabia there may be a level of individual liberty for well-behaved Muslim men, but Theresa herself would not be allowed to leave her own house without being covered from head to toe and in the company of her husband or other family member. In Saudi Arabia “freedom of religion is neither recognized nor protected under the law and the government severely restricts it in practice” (and that’s according to our own best buddies). Taking Theresa’s fundamental British values as given (and here is not the place to quibble about them), it rather seems that Saudi Arabia is opposed to all of them, and therefore under Theresa and the Home Office’s own definitions, is a ripe candidate for the epithet “extremist.”

And this is odd, because Theresa—who is so determined to root out extremism in the public sector—was one of those who, in the recent cabinet dispute about whether or not to continue selling the services of precisely that public sector to precisely that extremist regime, lobbied Cameron to keep the contract in place.

Of all the contortions and contradictions that this and previous governments and ministers have engaged in to suck up to their oil-providing masters in the Gulf, this has to be one of the most revolting. To engage in a witch-hunt against “extremism” in the public sector whilst actively advocating the whoring out of that same public sector to the country which competes with North Korea for the most extremist regime on the planet takes a level of hypocrisy that beggars belief.

To avoid any doubt: Theresa May, by definitions of her own government, has actively promoted that our public services actively engage with extremism. Chances of her duly and unceremoniously turfing herself out on her ear? Fucking zero, of course.

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