Ironies abound in Michael Gove’s definition of extremism | Letters

Readers respond to the government’s proposed new definition of extremism and its implications

Rafael Behr says that the killers of Jo Cox and David Amess “cannot be used to discredit the causes they appropriated” (There is a far bigger threat to Britain than fringe extremists, 13 March). However, Thomas Mair, Cox’s killer, shouted “Britain first” as he attacked her, and that he did this after weeks of often intimidatory nationalist rhetoric by some leave campaigners suggests that Behr’s conclusion does not always apply.

Ironically, the leave campaign, in which Michael Gove played a leading role, is probably the strongest case of a nonviolent campaign inspiring violent action – there was a wave of attacks against Europeans, Muslims, gay people and others. Not a case for banning Vote Leave, as Gove’s new plans might lead us to conclude, of course, but cause to reflect on where the inspiration for extremism has been coming from in British politics over the last decade.
Prof Martin Shaw
University of Sussex

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