Is there a ‘Conservative’ counter-terrorism?

Lydia Morgan, Fiona de Londras*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Every government has its own impact on policy, but no government starts from a blank page. As was the case with the Labour governments that came before them, the Conservative and Conservative-led governments since 2010 have found themselves contending with security and counter-terrorism. In so doing they have, we will argue, largely extended three clear trends from the Labour governments that went before: a focus on prevention, an embrace of surveillance, and a manifestation of human rights scepticism in the counter-terrorism context.

While these trends are all extensions of Labour commitments, discernible from the 'state of play' in 2010, they are also themselves updated extensions of much of the Conservative approach to countering violence in Northern Ireland. Indeed, as we will show below, in terms of laws and policies there is no clear Conservative or Labour approach to countering terrorism; instead, the development of counter-terrorism law since 2001 reveals a marked convergence of views and approaches between Labour and the Conservatives and the emergence of counter-terrorism as a rare point of bipartisan agreement. The underpinning reasons for this apparent convergence and bipartisanship may well differ between the parties, but the effects in terms of law are not clearly distinguishable between them.

The implications of this, we argue, are that a reorientation of counter-terrorism law and policy in the UK towards rights and away from control requires more than party political change: when it comes to counter-terrorism, a change of government does not mean a change of governance. Instead, such a reorientation requires a radical rupturing of the current counter-terrorist consensus and a dispositional shift towards security, risk, and rights.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)187-215
Number of pages29
JournalKing's Law Journal
Issue number2
Early online date4 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - 7 Nov 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law


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