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Democracy needs society to be ‘sensible and grown-up’, says UK Government minister

04 Mar 2024 3 minute read
Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Bim Afolami arriving in Downing Street. Photo Lucy North/PA Wire

Democracy will only work if people act in a “sensible and grown-up way”, a minister has said, as the UK Government weighs options for clamping down on “extremist” behaviour.

Ministers are expected to put forward new measures in the coming weeks following Rishi Sunak’s speech in Downing Street on Friday, in which he warned that democracy is being targeted by extremists and there were “forces here at home trying to tear us apart”.

Commenting on the speech, Treasury minister Bim Afolami told Sky News on Monday: “The truth is that the Prime Minister feels very, very strongly about this.

“He is the first non-white Prime Minister, I think that he definitely sees the responsibility he has to promote the hugely positive, multicultural democracy that we have.

“But that is only there when, broadly speaking, society behaves in a sensible and grown-up way, and there have been some worrying signs over the last few months, particularly since the October 7 attacks in Israel, that have shown that things are going the wrong direction.”

Hate preachers

He did not expand on what those measures might be, but it is understood that ministers are considering plans to bar hate preachers from entering the UK on the grounds they are “non-conducive to the public good”.

Typically used to prevent people who pose known security concerns from coming to the UK, it is understood the new plans will extend the powers to include those preaching racism, incitement or using intimidation or violence to undermine the democratic process.

But Mr Afolami rejected claims from former immigration minister Robert Jenrick that mass migration had made integration “impossible”.

He said: “I don’t think he’s right in the whole, but of course there are instances where people have not integrated properly into British society.

“I don’t know whether that’s necessarily the cause of immigration or high immigration levels or not, but that’s one of the reasons, this lack of integration by a small group of people, is one of the things that’s caused difficulties with what the Prime Minister was talking about when he made his announcement to the country, when he made his speech to the country on Friday.”


He added: “If certain people haven’t integrated properly they are more likely to not exhibit those behaviours and we are going to come forward in the coming weeks to set out what more we are going to do to clamp down on extremist behaviour.”

Other suggestions have come from former Labour MP John Woodcock, who now sits in the House of Lords as Lord Walney and has been advising the Government on tackling political violence.

On Sunday, he called for party leaders to ban their MPs from meeting with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, which has organised several pro-Palestine marches in London since October 7, “until they get their house in order and cut the hate from their marches”.

He wrote in the Sun on Sunday that environmental protest groups such as Extinction Rebellion and Just Stop Oil should also not be able to meet with politicians, saying: “If you threaten MPs and break the law try to get your way, you should never be invited into the room to express your views.”

The recommendation forms part of Lord Walney’s report on political violence, due to be submitted to the Government shortly.

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1 month ago

There is democracy and there is despotism. The Tory party are doing the latter. They have already started to stifle protests, they will take this further. Slipping under the radar a Tory MP is calling for abortion time limits to change with the Criminal Justice Bill, never underestimate this lot to remove your rights when poorly assembled polices are rammed through parliament with amendments they can tag on on the back, and they will. But then they are happy for Truss to hobnob with fascists in the US and 30p nasty comments on the London Mayor. Seems they only go… Read more »

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
1 month ago

This man could contribute to acting in a ‘sensible and grown up way’ and demonstrate that he is against extremism by not appearing on a TV station which rabble rouses hate mobs and childishly sneers at people who just try to get on with lives in peace.

Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
1 month ago

Generally the general public are, on the whole, the sensible ones. They don’t vote for extremists and crackpots. It’s the Tory party that’s taken the extremist route since 2016 and it’s one of the reasons why they are polling their worst since 1978 when records of this sort began. The people aren’t stupid but it appears many in the current conservative party are if they believe they’ll win the next GE with their current views.

Why vote
Why vote
1 month ago

There’s a thought all parliamentarians behaving sensible and grown up, will never happen.

Valerie Matthews
Valerie Matthews
1 month ago

These wealthy , self serving out of touch Tory MPs make me SICK! they are nothing less than dictators, trying to crush the spirit of UK Citizens, PLEASE! Vote them and any like them, what ever Party they represent , Out at the next Election , Time we had people who actually give a damn about ordinary folk, It must change before they totally ruin our Country.

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