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‘Prevent’ is not fit for purpose

Letter of the Week: Alan Freeman, Green Party Parliamentary candidate for Batley and Spen

Dear Sir,

‘Prevent’ is a pillar of the government’s strategy for combatting terrorism. More specifically, it’s the part of the strategy designed to prevent radicalisation.

I’ve been aware of the existence of Prevent for a number of years, but over the last few weeks I’ve been educated in considerably more depth by conversing with the police and with prominent members of the local Muslim community.

There are a mish-mash of views, with ‘fors’ and ‘againsts’ on both sides, but the conclusion I’ve come to was pretty easily reached – in its present form, it simply is not fit for purpose.

In fact, I’d go further than that and say it’s actually dangerous and counter-productive.

A programme aimed at ending terrorist radicalisation is, on the face of it, a very good idea, but the way in which Prevent has been implemented and targeted has been reminiscent of the implementation of the so-called ‘sus law’ in the late 70s and early 80s, which led to accusations of institutional racism and racial profiling by the police and led to disproportionate arrests of young black men.

The problem is the way that Prevent conceptualises ‘radicalisation’ and ‘extremism’. It’s based on the unsubstantiated view that religious ideology is the primary driving factor for terrorism.

Academic research suggests that social, economic and political factors, as well as social exclusion, play a more important role in driving political violence than ideology.

How can it be right that something as simple as primary school children mentioning their attendance at a particular mosque can lead to them being questioned and their parents becoming suspects?

Or that people discussing the problem of terrorism automatically become part of the problem themselves? The result is that the conversations are driven underground, resentment breeds and the chances of radicalisation are actually increased by the very tool that is supposed to be preventing it!

And if my view, garnered by a few conversations in and around Batley and Dewsbury isn’t enough to convince you, there’s an ex-Director General of MI5 that says “Prevent is clearly not working” and she is backed up by an ex-Superintendent of the Metropolitan Police, the National Union of Teachers and community organisations such as MEND.

When the ‘sus law’ came under scrutiny, it was deservedly repealed (in August 1981). Prevent needs scrapping or at least giving a major overhaul, with input from the sectors of society that are currently being unfairly targeted by it.

Let’s protect the forest from fracking plans

From: John Appleyard, Liversedge

Dear Sir,

I’m pleased to see that in the Labour Party election manifesto there is a pledge not to frack for gas.

In a matter of weeks Sherwood Forest, Britain’s most famous woodland, could be at risk.

A huge energy company called Ineos wants to explore underneath it to frack for gas. If this goes ahead Sherwood Forest could be filled with spluttering lorries, heavy machinery and explosives by next month.

I’ve been a long-time environmentalist and am asking the Forestry Commission – the government agency in charge of our forests – not to give the green light and to protect the forest from the destruction caused by fracking.

I hope readers will feel the same.

How did they evolve?

From: Alex K Davies, Cleckheaton

Dear Sir,

Over the holidays we ended up in Scarborough and settled back in our seats for a pleasant trip on a pleasure boat, which had seen action in the WWII Dunkirk evacuations.

Just as they were about to pull up the drawbridge, he arrived. There always seems to be one! Your common or garden yob, accompanied by his hyper-loud, attention-seeking moll, together drowning out the pleasant background music.

Standard uniform: beige cargo shorts, just below the knee; earring and neck tattoos; shaved head an inch above both sides; t-shirt and quilted body warmer; low-quality trainers; broken nose, and also a mobile to phone all and sundry, telling them he was on a ‘ship’, executed at the top of his voice, flavoured with swearing.

How did these creatures evolve?

Why are the citizens of our wonderful country allowed to suffer such characters?

They won’t turn their back on so much trade

From: John Whelan, Dewsbury

Dear Sir,

Still concerned about Brexit? Consider a number of issues not being widely discussed.

Under World Trade Organisation rules the average tariff averages just 2.4%, but our net contribution of £10 billion to the EU budget is equivalent to a 7% tariff.

The UK would be receiving tariffs from imported goods including German cars and French agricultural products, which would far outweigh our tariff costs, roughly £12.9 billion for the EU versus £5.2 billion for us.

Take cars and automotive parts alone (10% WTO tariff), Germany, Spain, France, Belgium, Italy and Poland sell us 51.9 billion Euros worth, we sell to them 17 billion Euros worth, a deficit of 34.9 billion, and coincidentally a deficit with every country.

The UK currently accounts for around 17% of 27 European countries total exports, money which is needed to support the failing Euro and fill in the deficit with the UK no longer contributing its £10 billion net to the budget.

The three million jobs in the UK associated with EU exports are balanced by six million EU jobs associated with UK exports.

On a country-by-country basis, exporters in 22 EU countries benefit more from bilateral free trade with the UK than UK exporters benefit from free trade with each of those countries.

If the EU decides to turn its back on its neighbours and turn its back on free trade, it will be turning its back on democracy and the economic interests of the people of Europe.

If you were ever in any doubt about Brexit, the bullying, petulant, abusive EU response should be enough to persuade the most ardent Remainer, also the demand for 100 billion Euros so close to VE day, some thanks for liberation?

This is a role model?

From: John Dewhirst, Gomersal

Dear Sir,

The recent story carried by a number of national newspapers regarding Wayne Rooney losing over £500,000 in two hours in a Manchester casino only serves to consolidate the popularly-held opinion that ‘his brains are in his feet’.

It must be very upsetting to all those people who are on a zero hours contract or recent school leavers who are starting out on an apprenticeship course to be made aware of such behaviour.

One of the reasons put forward for this obscene spree is that his wife was on holiday with their children which led to him feeling bored.

If this is the case then his action will provoke even more public anger and even less public sympathy.

There is much talk about high-profile sporting personalities being role models for youngsters. This being the case the England football captain may well do heed the advice of poet Thomas Trusser: “A fool and his money are soon parted”.

The only winner in this situation is the free publicity gained by the Manchester casino company who will seek to make use of the £500,000 in a more profitable way than their VIP client Mr Rooney did.

Perhaps the time has come to broaden his horizons and explore the soccer scene in the Far East.

Not thought through

From: Ian Fitton, Liversedge

Dear Sir,

Although we all agree in a perfect world there should be no requirement to pay for parking to visit anyone in hospital, I feel Tracy Brabin’s proposal to make all hospital parking free and pay for this by increasing tax on private health policies has either not been thought through properly or is just an empty vote-winning claim.

If the premium on private health policies is increased, this will lead to people and companies cancelling their policies due to cost, which could lead to less revenue for the government, not more as anticipated.

If the above occurs, this will lead to extra pressure on the NHS as the number of potential patients will increase.

If hospital car parks are free, how will shoppers and town/city workers be prevented from using this facility?

Other points on Labour election promises – nationalising utility companies, mail and railways – how will we pay for this? By even more borrowing.

Anyone my age remembers what an inefficient overmanned shambles the national industries as a whole were.

An extra 10,000 policemen, £10 minimum wage, more teachers and nurses, smaller class sizes, an increase in social care budget, free school meals for all (even though the children who need them get them free now), pay increases for public sector workers and two free pints and a fish and chip supper for everyone every Friday (sorry, made that last one up).

Seriously, how are these promises to be paid for? By increasing tax on high wage-earners and increasing corporation tax. It does not work, it was tried by the last French government and was an abject failure.

The top earners either avoid the tax or leave the country and large companies invest elsewhere.

We are on the point of leaving the EU, we should be encouraging investment in the country, not punishing it.

Remember the government has no money, nor does it earn any, all its money is the taxpayers’ and this should be used to stimulate people and companies and feed their aspirations to improve.

This manifesto does neither, it is just another try of old failed policies. Remember the note left by the last defeated Chancellor to his successor? ‘Sorry, nothing left’ – please do not let this happen again.

Raise a bob or two

From: Tim Wood, The Old Colonial, Mirfield Rifle Volunteers

Dear Sir,

This Saturday sees yet another fundraising event, The Mirfield Rifle Volunteers’ spring raffle, held at The Old Colonial, Mirfield, this coming Saturday (May 20).

To bolster footfall to the event, entertainer ‘Woody’ the string man, a brilliant musician, will be appearing live with his one-man show.

MRV’s chosen charity this year is SAFA and the local dementia/Alzheimer’s support group based at St Andrew’s Church, Mirfield.

Entrance is free to the event, we hope to raise a good bob or two on our spring raffle, so if anyone wishes to donate a raffle prize you can bring it along with you.

The event will be from 8.30pm onwards.

A change of direction

From: Mr J Griffith, via email

Dear Sir,

I read an article last week in The Press, stating that the Conservative candidate is favourite to win back the Dewsbury, Mirfield, Denby Dale and Kirkburton seat.

Firstly, you should not be so complacent that it will be a Conservative Party win, especially when the state of our local hospital is a disgrace and local NHS services including pharmacies are under so much pressure! Which is the fault of the Conservative Party.

The last part-time Conservative MP the area had wanted to close our A&E services at Dewsbury Hospital.

I cannot believe that anyone would contemplate voting in another Conservative candidate again, when the last one was a complete disaster for our area. The Conservative MP Simon Reevell was a very, very bad choice.

We need a change of direction this time around. I feel it would be better to have a look at the other political parties, please can you present your readers with the alternative candidates for this seat, and not just coverage of the Conservatives and Labour this time around.

Large Tory majority? No

From: Peter Moreland, Heckmondwike

Dear Sir,

Technically Theresa May’s decision to call an election mainly about Brexit was sound, however as the weeks go by other domestic issues such as education and NHS have taken centre stage and what might have been seen as a large Tory majority looks more doubtful.

A Conservative leaflet through my door this week draws attention to last year’s election shocks – Trump winning in America and the UK voting to leave Europe – in an attempt to stop Labour getting elected.

I think this could come back to haunt Mrs May as the early stages of the campaign are not showing a very flattering image of her, whilst Jeremy Corbyn is drawing huge crowds wherever he goes.

If this was an American-style election, Corbyn would very likely do a Donald Trump as his biggest let-down is the people alongside him – the hopeless Diane Abbott and the foul-mouthed thug John McDonnell MP.

Yet more politics for us to consider

From: John Sheen, Dewsbury

Dear Sir,

Yet more politics for Britain to consider. Our future and our offspring’s futures will depend on a sensible and measured approach to the subject.

History, if we can remind ourselves, teaches many things. The Labour Party of yesteryear was the voice of millions of our parents and grandparents.

It was the voice of reason for a better future for all. We were told it was the EU that gave us workers’ rights. Not one bit of it. Those rights were fought and won by a well-supported trade union movement.

My parents always voted for a Labour Party that achieved many wonderful things. However, since the country was brought near to bankruptcy by the very people we entrusted our faith in, I feel the people of Britain must search their conscience before making their choice on June 8.

When Labour left office the country’s deficit, through massive borrowing and global financial mismanagement, was around £150 billion.

Since then we’ve seen, through careful budgetary control, that figure reduced to approximately £50 billion.

This figure is still costing massive interest payments that should be spent on health and education but, don’t forget who amassed this appalling debt.

History also shows that Labour’s PFI agreements to build new hospitals resulted in contracts with eye-watering interest payments of billions over the next 30 years.

Jeremy Corbyn is promising the earth to get elected, renationalising rail and utility companies. History, yet again, proved these companies were so inefficient they were costing the taxpayer billions in lost revenue.

He’s promising to abolish hospital car park charges. How’s he going to do this when most of the car parks, and indeed the hospital restaurant profits, are part of the PFI contract?

The Labour Party has been hijacked by the Westminster elite. Our local MP, Paula Sherriff, and indeed our local councillors, work tirelessly on our behalf but when nearly 70 per cent of the electorate in the North and Midlands voted to leave the EU and many Labour MPs voted to remain, this puts a serious question mark against the party’s leadership.

I’m afraid our local Labour Party representatives have been terribly let down.

How could the nation support a man that openly celebrates and informs the world, including some of the most brutal dictators on the planet, that under no circumstances would he deploy nuclear weapons or, indeed preaches on many platforms, the “evil” of NATO. The very organisation that’s kept us safe for over 70 years.

But, the final insult to my patriotism was when I read during the Northern Ireland conflict Jeremy Corbyn had written letters of condolence to IRA families for the loss of the very enemy our troops had died fighting for peace in the province.

Yes, history can be very cruel and exposes skeletons some people would prefer to forget.

The NHS and our education provision are extremely important, especially in Dewsbury, but a strong and successful negotiating team, one that doesn’t roll over to Brussels’ demands, will be vital in securing a positive outcome for a Brexit that will ensure meaningful funding for our NHS and our educational facilities.

UKIP are giving their votes to you, PM

From: Colin Walshaw, Cleckheaton

An open letter to Theresa May

Dear Mrs May,

As a member of UKIP for almost a decade my colleagues and I have decided to stand down in the constituencies of Dewsbury and Batley and Spen, and will be giving you our vote at the up coming general election, as have others in different parts of the country.

This is a vote of trust, which I hope you will value.

As you are no doubt aware it was UKIP who ‘persuaded’ your predecessor to call a referendum, regardless of possibly your own feelings?

However the die is cast and your progress so far suggests that Brexit means Brexit!

To this end you have our support and assume that you also appreciate that UKIP will gift you a resounding victory in the General Election.

To this end I also appreciate that many of the four million UKIP voters will fall in line with the fact that you appear to be speaking our language.

Some 17.5 million voters wanted to Leave and make no mistake, they knew what they were voting for, Brexit means exit!

The bow of burning gold will have been gifted to you, use it wisely. UKIP is not finished yet!

It is vital that we have a complete exit and if this means WTO terms, so be it.

Our fishermen will not forgive, neither will the 17.4 million and not least the four million UKIPPERS, we shall return and rise again.

We will not cease from mental fight, nor will our swords sleep in our hands, till we have built Jerusalem, in England’s green and pleasant land.

God save the Queen and her consort!


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