DAVID Cameron chose the G20 meeting in Australia to unveil the latest coalition plans to strip British passport holders of their citizenship if they are suspected of travelling abroad to fight for the Islamist ISIS group in Syria and Iraq.
A new counter-terrorism bill, to be rushed into law by the end of January, will include Temporary Exclusion Orders under which British passport holders suspected of fighting with ISIS will be barred from re-entering the country, their passports would be cancelled and their name put on a ‘no-fly list’ meaning no airline could carry them.
To get round international law, which makes it illegal for any country to make a person stateless, the bill will propose that they may be allowed to return to the UK only if they agree to be escorted (or chained) by the police.
Once back in Britain, these suspects would be either prosecuted or placed under close supervision with constant police and security service monitoring – a permanent state of house arrest carried out without any formal charges being brought by the state.
These ‘Exclusion Orders’ would apply to individuals for two years and could be renewed at any time, opening up the prospect of permanent close house arrest for individuals who have never been charged but who would face criminal charges and imprisonment should they break the terms of their exclusion order.
What is being proposed is nothing less than internment without trial, the creation of Britain’s very own version of Guantanamo Bay.
Talking about this new bill back in September, Cameron said that it was ‘abhorrent’ that British citizens had ‘declared their allegiance’ to groups like IS.
This is rich coming from the leader of a government that not just allowed but actively encouraged hundreds of people to travel from Britain to Syria to fight against the secular Baathist regime of Bashar al-Assad.
The five hundred or so who did travel to Syria were in those days ‘freedom fighters’ and the idea that they somehow slipped under the radar of British security services and travelled clandestinely is a nonsense.
What has caused the crisis for imperialism is the complete failure of its plans to smash the Baathist regime, bring down Assad and replace him with a puppet owing to the resistance of the Syrian people.
Now Cameron and the Tories are squalling like stuck pigs at the prospect of their erstwhile allies returning home and engaging in the same acts they were encouraged to do in Syria.
But these measures have a much more sinister purpose than dealing with returnees from Syria.
In August, when outlining the powers to be contained in this new counter-terrorism bill, Home Secretary Theresa May made it clear that its remit was not confined to terrorists fighting for ISIS. She said: ‘I am looking again at the case for new banning orders for extremist groups that fall short of the legal threshold for terrorist proscription, as well as for new civil powers to target extremists who seek to radicalise others.’
This broad definition of extremism could encompass any group who the government determine pose a threat to the wellbeing and safety of society – that is of capitalist society.
We should never forget that Thatcher once famously proclaimed that the miners during their year-long strike in the 1980s posed a bigger threat than any terrorist ever did.
Faced with the necessity to inflict even more savage austerity measures on the working class as the economic crisis deepens by the day, the ruling class are gearing up the capitalist state for an all-out war with the working class.
The smashing up of democratic rights, stripping people of their citizenship, internment without trial and banning any group or union declared to be a threat to capitalism, is part and parcel of these civil war preparations.
This new bill poses a massive threat to the working class – it must be defeated by the working class organising its own forces in a general strike to bring down the government and go forward to a workers government and socialism.