Robin Simcox, the UK’s commissioner for countering extremism, has been mostly content to keep a low profile since he was appointed to the role two years ago.
But on 19 October he made his first major public intervention by setting the terms of discourse on the Israel-Palestine War.
By all accounts it was a substantial intervention. Simcox slammed pro-Palestine protests. He called the UK a “permissive environment” for antisemitism. He warned of a Hamas support network in the country – and urged a crackdown on non-violent Islamism.
His remarks were made to the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), a leading defence and security think tank, and were treated with near-deferential respect in the media.
His views appear to be largely in step with those of Home Secretary Suella Braverman and Communities Secretary Michael Gove, who are reported to have ordered a “crackdown on extremism” involving efforts to draw up a new definition of extremism, years after previous Conservative governments tried and failed to formulate a legally binding definition.
Taken alongside similar comments by government ministers, Simcox’s speech appears to indicate that a revamped domestic “war on terror” is about to begin. This makes it all the more important that Simcox himself is held to account.
In this article, we will argue that Simcox should not be regarded as a neutral arbiter of extremism – as might be expected in such a role – but rather as a partisan figure within the landscape over which he has been appointed to cast scrutiny.
We will examine Simcox’s links to right-wing networks accused of promoting Islamophobia in both British and American politics and media.
Read more on The Middle East Eye.
- The Pressure-Cooker Effect: The Harm of Self-Censorship on Palestine (Expert View, 2023)
- State Capture: The CCE as a Vehicle for Right-Wing Entryism (News, 2023)
- The People’s Review of Prevent (Report, 2022)