Welcome to the UK! (Extreme mentalists not allowed in)

Go away, Fred Phelps, you weirdo

Fred Phelps. Go away, you weirdo.

As someone who is fascinated by the wide assortment of ideological fruitcakes that humanity has to offer, I have enjoyed reading through the Home Office’s recently released list of people banned from entering the UK because of their extreme, hate-promoting views.

I think the Home Office did well to balance it out so nicely. Whilst the majority predictably seem to be Muslims (only 16 of the 22 names on the list have been released) who start drooling at the thought of violent jihad,  there are also neo-Nazis, Christian fundamentalists, and a fanatical Jew.

Trawling through the internet looking for evidence of an individual’s lunatic opinions sounds like a dream job. If anyone at the Home Office is reading this and knows of any vacancies in the Banning Dangerous Foreign Nutters Unit please get in touch.

The problem is, of course, that deciding who exactly to ban is a tricky business. The Home Office defines unwelcome views as those which:

  • foment, justify or glorify terrorist violence in furtherance of particular beliefs
  • seek to provoke others to terrorist acts
  • foment other serious criminal activity or seek to provoke others to serious criminal acts or
  • foster hatred which might lead to inter-community violence in the UK.

But in practice an objective set of criteria will not always be used. The Home Office intervention to stop the Dutch MP Geert Wilders from entering the country in February, for example, seemed a bit of an overreaction, especially considering that he had come to the UK in December 2008 without any problems. That decision was made as an off the cuff attempt to appease certain over-sensitive Islamic sensibilities rather than because Mr. Wilders genuinely ticked any of the above boxes.

Perhaps the publication of the list is designed to demonstrate that the Home Office at least strives for consistency. I’m not a free speech or open borders absolutist and so I think that it is quite correct for a government to retain the power to prevent people entering the UK if they are only coming here to stir up trouble.  But the government needs to be careful not to undermine its authority in this area through banning people on spurious grounds, as happened in the Geert Wilders case.


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4 Responses to “Welcome to the UK! (Extreme mentalists not allowed in)”

  1. Paul Says:

    I’d also *love* that job! Googling nutters is great fun.

    I think the problem is that the guidelines are so wide and open to interpretation so as to be almost meaningless.

    Surely we either:
    1) Realise it’s a political matter, which means that decisions are influenced by the whims of public opinion/the power of certain pressure groups. Guidelines such as these are good in helping people understand why people might be banned, but ultimately it’s a political decision.
    2) Appoint an independent body to decide objectively on a *much* tighter set of guidelines

    I think the first option is actually best..

  2. mrs election Says:

    Oh great. So now our taxes will be kindly spent on legal fees defending this nutter’s claim that he was defamed…http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8035114.stm

  3. Morning(ish. Sorry folks) roundup, Wednesday 6th May 2009 - Common Endeavour Says:

    […] programme hosted by one of the chaps from the list who is all, “bring me the head of Jacqui Smith!” Frank Owen’s Paintbrush is not in mourning at what Blighty is potentially missing out on, although the said gentleman’s […]

  4. captainjako Says:

    Oh no. This is turning into a mess. Perhaps publishing the list was not a good idea?!

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