Is There Really a Problem with Left Wing Extremism in the UK, or Is the Government Seeking Excuses to Suppress Fair Protest?

Yves here. We may be going a bit heavy on “media watch” and freedom of speech coverage, particularly the gratuitous bashing of the barely-able-to-fight-its-way-out-of-a-paper-bag left, but your programming alternative is the tempest du jour of the Trump impeachment saga, which is being amply covered in Links anyhow.

Admittedly, this impeachment iteration looks to be on track to be more successful than the first by virtue of being less drawn out. While the Trump legal team looks to be making an embarrassing show of itself, is this just incompetence or the attorneys deliberately demonstrating they don’t have to care? Tellingly, some of the Trump team critics are comparing its legal show to My Cousin Vinny. Did they forget that Vinny won? And its best scenes are classics? Watch in succession. The boys Vinny is defending are accused of murder:

To more serious matters, the depiction of “extreme” as in on the far end of our very narrow political spectrum as tantamount to violent and hence legitimate to silence. In the UK, this follows the shameless bashing of Corbyn for purported anti-Semitism. Any excuse not to pay workers a decent wage.

By Richard Murphy, a chartered accountant and a political economist. He has been described by the Guardian newspaper as an “anti-poverty campaigner and tax expert”. He is Professor of Practice in International Political Economy at City University, London and Director of Tax Research UK. He is a non-executive director of Cambridge Econometrics. He is a member of the Progressive Economy Forum. Originally published at Tax Research UK

I posted this comment on Twitter last night:

There was, of course, a context for doing this. As The Guardian noted in the last day or so:

The government has reportedly ordered an investigation into the extreme fringes on both ends of the political spectrum, with a peer tasked with offering recommendations to the prime minister and home secretary.

The review will be led by John Woodcock, the former Labour MP who now sits in the upper chamber as Lord Walney and was appointed as the government’s independent adviser on political violence and disruption last November.

Let’s be clear: the government is right to note that we face an extremist threat. Fascism is growing in out society. Threats are commonplace. I have no time for them. They are utterly unacceptable, from wherever they come.

But let’s also be clear that as far as I can see the only left wing extremists that will be found are likely to be, in the government’s opinion, Extinction Rebellion and Black  Lives Matter. Both take action to affirm the right to live in freedom of fear.

In contrast, on the right what we are seeing is the active promotion of fear. Oppression of others is the stock-in-trade of the right.

So, we have one supposed extremism wing affirming the right to life free from fear and discrimination in all its forms, and the other extreme seeking to do the exact opposite.

And what that very strongly suggest to me is that we are not comparing like with like. In fact, the analogy is deliberately a falsehood in itself and part of the process of oppression in its own right.

I am not suggesting I always agree with all protest methods used by XR and BLM, because I can have my own views on what is appropriate. But have I ever spotted what might fairly vibe called extremism in their actions? No, is my fair response to that.

But I do see oppression and violence, and violent threats coming from the right. So shall we not equate the two, whilst always condemning all those who use such methods?

I cannot help that feel that just as the government is cracking down on charities to oppress the proper statement of history to prevent exposure  of those who oppressed in pursuit of profit, so too is the government now seeking to use right wing violence as an excuse  to oppress those who want to curtail those who still do the same thing. And that is utterly unacceptable, but a clear indication of the world we now live in.

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