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Michael Gove suggests Tory donor’s comments would not be deemed ‘extremist’

14 Mar 2024 3 minute read
Frank Hester (L) Photo via YouTube and Michael Gove. Photo Lucy North/PA Wire

Michael Gove has suggested a Tory donor’s alleged call for an MP to be “shot” would not be referred to the Government’s new extremism taskforce.

Businessman Frank Hester is alleged to have said that Diane Abbott, Britain’s first black female MP, made him “want to hate all black women” and that she “should be shot”, in comments the Prime Minister described as “racist” after initially refusing to do so.

Cabinet minister Mr Gove described the remarks as “horrific” but said he was exercising “Christian forgiveness” after the entrepreneur had “shown contrition”.

It came as Mr Gove unveiled the Government’s new definition of extremism on Thursday.

Violence

It describes extremism as “the promotion or advancement of an ideology based on violence, hatred or intolerance” that aims to “negate or destroy the fundamental rights and freedoms of others” or “undermine, overturn or replace the UK’s system of liberal parliamentary democracy and democratic rights”.

Speaking ahead of a speech to the Commons, Mr Gove said it was not up to him to rule whether Mr Hester’s words were extremist.

“It is important that any decision about individuals and organisations is taken after a rigorous assessment of evidence and a consistent pattern of behaviour,” he told Times Radio, saying an “expert team of civil servants” would be running that process.

He went on to indicate that “an individual comment” would not be enough to be examined by the team.

The senior Tory told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We have to be clear, we’re looking at organisations with a particular ideology.

“The individual concerned said something that was horrific.

“I wouldn’t want to conflate those motivated by extremist ideology with an individual comment, however horrific, which has quite rightly been called out and which has quite rightly led to an apology.”

Mr Gove noted that he took “these issues incredibly seriously” as someone who was targeted by an extremist who went on to kill Sir David Amess MP.

Racist

Amid continuing calls for the Tories to return the £10 million Mr Hester has donated to the party, the Communities Secretary reiterated the Government’s line that Mr Hester’s apology should be accepted.

Asked whether the businessman’s apology was genuine if he did not acknowledge his remarks were racist, Mr Gove told Sky News: “I haven’t spoken to Mr Hester, but I think that when someone says that they are sorry, and I understand he’s deeply sorry for these remarks, then my natural inclination is to exercise Christian forgiveness.”

Ms Abbott has accused the Conservatives and Labour of failing to tackle racism.

In newspaper articles on Wednesday, she said the “reluctance to call out racism and sexism” was “shocking, but hardly surprising”, and warned the Conservatives would “play the race card… ruthlessly” at the next election.


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Jeff
Jeff
29 days ago

10 million reasons and one helicopter ride why this is the wrong type of extremist. Same for the other extremists that joked about date rape drugs, what was his name? Cleverly? Or the other extremists that inflate hate, Braverman and Anderson. But they are the good extremists. They like them. They don’t mean those extremists.

Bryn
Bryn
29 days ago

” His remarks were wrong…… They were rascist… But he has apologised ( without actually apologising) … His remarks were horrific…. But we forgive him…. And his money.. Which we are keeping…. ”

A fair summary ? So far..?

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
29 days ago

At the center of Michael Gove’s Moral Maze there is a great big hole called Downing Street where Sunak’s navvies are digging like crazy, egged on by the Wizard of Gove…

Last edited 29 days ago by Mab Meirion
Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
29 days ago

In that case Gove’s definitions has failed it’s first real test (hard to think of anything more extreme than saying someone – in this case a black female MP – should be shot)

Steve A Duggan
Steve A Duggan
29 days ago

So Mr Gove, the secret puppet master of the Conservative party, wants to move the goal posts so that a big party donor is exonerated. With a government like this in charge who needs enemies?

Last edited 29 days ago by Steve A Duggan
Geraint
Geraint
29 days ago

Sir David Amess MP quoted by Gove was murdered in 2021. His murder was declared a terrorist incident by the Metropolitan police. Jo Cox MP was shot in 2016 by a white supremacist who was obsessed with the Nazis. Her murderer was sentenced to a whole life tariff and will only ever be released by the Home secretary of the day if he/she decides there is a compelling reason to do so. I don’t think Christian forgiveness would be an acceptable reason. Her murderer was also convicted of a terrorism offence. These two cases show how serious acts of violence… Read more »

Last edited 29 days ago by Geraint
Y Cymro
Y Cymro
29 days ago

The core of the Conservatives is corrupt like rotten apple. And shame on those Asian & Afro-Carribbean members of the Tory party who turn a blind eye to overt racism from their wealthy white donors who just happen to give £10 million towards party coffers solely because they care, yeah right, and if you are naive enough to believe that crap are a Conservative & Unionist. It’s funny how Michael Gove thinks comments made towards Diane Abbott was no way racist and how it would come under their definition of hate speech. So basically he’s now given the green light… Read more »

Richard Davies
Richard Davies
29 days ago

Translated into english the new definition of extremism is basically “If you aren’t a tory supporter, or if you protest about tory policies, or if you are a Muslim then you are an extremist.” Further erosion of the rights our ancestors fought hard to achieve. It is now difficult to tell the difference between the uk and China/North Korea/Iran. First they came for the asylum seekers but I did not speak out because I wasn’t an asylum seeker. Then they came for the peace protesters but I did not out because I wasn’t a peace protester. Then they came for… Read more »

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
29 days ago

Such a good judge of character is that old Fat Shanks…

£15 million, even by RR standards that is some bribe or backhander…

Last edited 29 days ago by Mab Meirion
Charles
Charles
28 days ago

Mr Gove is as ever he has talks without a thought or knowledge of the subject matter.

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