Ignore, if you will for a moment, any doubts you have about the civil liberties implications of the UK Government’s proposals to deport foreign nationals. Set aside the question of whether it is consistent with our obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights.
Step back and ask: even if we could find a way, consistent with our international obligations, to achieve the Government’s goal of excluding from the UK people who advocate fundamentalist ideas, how much good will that do us?
It is true that some young muslims in the UK have been influenced by radical preachers. But it is difficult to believe that, in a world of global communications and easy travel, that it is really going to make the UK a very much safer place if we remove a couple of dozen (or even a few hundred) people who advocate conflict. They will presumably continue to argue their cause in whichever country they end up; and if they are silenced they will be rapidly replaced by others. The suicide terrorists on 9/11 had not been recruited in the United States. There seem to be plenty of young, disaffected people who can be recruited elsewhere in the world to cause violence in any country. So how is shifting radical leaders abroad going to make us safe?
This feels like an opportunistic policy introduced by a Government to take advantage of the country’s sense of fear and outrage at the bombings in London. Perhaps it is a collective expression of national frustration which we are taking out on people who may be connected with religious fundamentalism. Perhaps it is a diversionary tactic from a Government that feels it should be seen to be doing something.
Unless someone can provide a compelling explanation of how this will help to make us safe, it isn’t something for which we should be considering avoiding our international obligations, sidestepping civil liberties, and tolerating torture.