Wednesday September 30, 2015
The fact that Jeremy Corbyn's views and policies are seen as being radical exemplifies how politics and society itself, have both moved to the Right.
For me, I would like to see Corbyn tackle and overhaul the Prevent agenda (part of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act). Of course, this would be an ambitious challenge for Corbyn as it was Labour, under Blair, who first introduced the Prevent strategy (then called CONTEST) back in 2006.
Prevent is presented as an initiative to stop and block terrorist activities, but is actually a counterinsurgency strategy that places surveillance and enforced conformity on Muslim students. Muslim communities are now viewed as the 'ideal enemy' and are seen as a danger to 'our' safety and 'our' values. There is absolutely no substantial evidence that extremist behaviour or views actually lead to terrorist activities. The “conveyor-belt” theory (as David Cameron suggested) - from extremism to terrorism - does not exist. Prevent is a hate filled, Islamaphobic strategy which is fuelled by neoconservative players (such as Policy Exchange and The Henry Jackson Society) and peddled by the government through the right wing media.
The Prevent Strategy will have a devastatingly negative impact on Muslim students who may feel that they don’t belong in the places where they should feel the most safe; schools, colleges and universities. All students (including Muslim students) should have the right to explore, discuss and articulate their views and opinions. However, critical thinking and debates about identity, civic courage and social justice may now be constrained due to fear. Teachers are being enforced by the government to become surveillance operators and informants, ultimately fracturing relationships - built on trust, loyalty and understanding - with their students. As Arun Kundnani has suggested in his book (The Muslims are coming!) perhaps a generation of young people being able to critically analyse Foreign Policy and the inequality in the UK, and also having the necessary learnt skills to change it, may be an increased source of concern to the state, than terrorism itself.
Tait Coles is a teacher and SLT member at an inner-city secondary school in Bradford.
He is the author of the book Never Mind the Inspectors, Here's Punk Learning and is working on a new book looking at race, equality, education and society.