The PM on terrorism, Iraq, & development

As a public service, I have transcribed verbatim the interview with Tony Blair on the Today Programme on 16 September. You can read the full text here.

The interview touches on the Government’s draft anti-terrorism legislation, the UN summit, development, Iraq, and Tony Blair’s legacy of reform of public services.

If I have time, I will post soon about the Government’s proposed anti-terrorism laws. In the meantime, I will let the Prime Minister’s words speak for themselves:

let’s be absolutely clear: there will be all sorts of people who say for all sorts of reasons: "look, I understand why the terrorists do it, and you know, you can sympathise with their motivation." Now I happen profoundly to disagree with that, but I am not suggesting that you make that a criminal offence. Er, what I am suggesting should be an offence is somebody who in effect by glorifying is inciting and is saying to people – particularly impressionable people – and we know, look,  that this is a modern phenomenon that we have, this extremism based on a perversion of Islam – is in effect saying to impressionable young people: this is something you should do.

I remain unclear what statements the Government wishes to make illegal. Are there statements which are not incitement, which is already illegal, and which are not merely expressing sympathy with a terrorist’s motivation, which Mr Blair does not think should be illegal. Can anyone think of an example of such a statement?

Published by Owen Barder

Owen is Senior Fellow and Director for Europe at the Center for Global Development and a Visiting Professor in Practice at the London School of Economics. Owen was a civil servant for a quarter of a century, working in Number 10, the Treasury and the Department for International Development. Owen hosts the Development Drums podcast, and is the author Running for Fitness, the book and website. Owen is on Twitter and

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5 Comments

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  2. Owen
    Wonderful job producing the transcript!

    JN: Twenty years ago, when Ken Livingstone led standing ovations for Gerry Adams at Labour Party fringe meetings, when there were IRA bombing campaigns in London, presumably with legislation like this he could have been arrested and thrown into jail for glorifying a terrorist?

    PM: I don’t think that is true in fact because – oh look, I can’t … to be absolutely frank you may have a better recollection of exactly what Ken was saying in that particular time than me – erm, but, let’s be absolutely clear: there will be all sorts of people who say for all sorts of reasons: “look, I understand why the terrorists do it, and you know, you can sympathise with their motivation.” Now I happen profoundly to disagree with that, but I am not suggesting that you make that a criminal offence. Er, what I am suggesting should be an offence is somebody who in effect by glorifying is inciting and is saying to people – particularly impressionable people – and we know, look, that this is a modern phenomenon that we have, this extremism based on a perversion of Islam – is in effect saying to impressionable young people: this is something you should do.

    When I read this I wonder if Blair has actually read the Bill for which his government is responsible.
    t

    Owen replies: Thanks Tony. I felt somebody had to do it; and Number 10 do not seem to be in a hurry to produce one. I can’t think why.

  3. Thanks for the transcript;)
    We couldn’t make head or tail of Blair’s attempts to explain his position on glorification the week:

    Interviewer:
    What does ‘glorifying terrorism’ mean?

    Blair:
    It means, erm, creating the sense, that those that engage in this terrorism, are doing a worthy and a good act.
    In other words its, if you like, it’s a sort of branch of incitement.

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  5. Thanks for posting this. Truly scary. Read also the text of his speech in Brighton yesterday, about which I blogged a piece on Samizdata. The man’s contempt for traditional civil liberties is grotesque.

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