How soft security matters in the referendum debate

regulation picPeople fear the extreme and demand their governments be tough on security, but in truth our safety comes largely through control of the mundane. Rita Hordósy, Post-Doctoral Researcher at the University of Sheffield, and Matt Wood, Lecturer in Politics at the University of Sheffield, argue that the EU excels at this. This piece is part of the UCL European Institute’s commissioning partnership with openDemocracy.

Both the Remain and Leave campaigns in this referendum make appeals to security. The Leave side say Britain’s security is endangered by membership in the bloc, arguing that it increases the likelihood of terror attacks in the UK, makes an economic crash more likely, and hinders prosperity for British nationals via the higher level of immigration. The Remain campaign, echoing the prime minister David Cameron’s mantra of ‘safer, prosperous and more secure’ Britain, claims exactly the opposite.

Theresa May, usually tough on immigration rules and numbers otherwise, weighed in to support ‘Bremain’ with further claims on criminal justice measures, national security, and fighting terrorism. By contrast, on the Leave side Michael Gove said, “I think overall our national security is strengthened if we are able to make the decisions that we need and the alliances that we believe in outside the current structures of the of the European Union”. EU judges, he argued, dictate “what our spies can do and whether we can be kept safe … our security and sovereignty stand together. I believe that there are better opportunities to keep people safe if we are outside the European Union”. Continue reading

Flights from Freedom

e-hoffmanEva Hoffman, former editor of The New York Times and Visiting Professor at the UCL European Institute, asks what propels individuals to turn to extremist movements and argues that we need to build a ‘culture of democracy’ with shared norms and ethics.

Among all the disturbing developments accompanying the rise of ISIS and its terrible progress, the phenomenon of European jihadis joining that movement’s ranks – and in some cases becoming suicide-bombers or taking part in the beheadings of hostages –is, to many Western observers, the most chillingly perplexing. Why do hundreds of Muslims, many of them educated and from comfortable backgrounds, decide to leave the politically temperate zones of Western democracies and join a movement of such barbaric brutality? What makes these young men and women so susceptible to the extremist Islamist message? Continue reading