Gove claims new extremism definition will target those ‘setting out to subvert democracy’

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Gove claims new extremism definition will target those ‘setting out to subvert democracy’

Communities Secretary Michael Gove to tell Commons the 'pervasiveness of extremist ideologies has become increasingly clear in the aftermath of the 7 October attacks in Israel'

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Communities Secretary Michael Gove giving his keynote address during the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester. Picture date: Monday October 4, 2021.
Communities Secretary Michael Gove giving his keynote address during the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester. Picture date: Monday October 4, 2021.

Michael Gove has claimed an “updated, more focused” extremism definition for the UK will help deny a platform “to those setting out to subvert democracy and deny other people’s fundamental rights.”

Written in the aftermath of the October 7 Hamas terror attacks in Israel, the Communities Secretary said the new definition “provides a stricter characterisation that government can use to make sure that extremist organisations and individuals are not being legitimised or given a platform through their interactions with government.”

He will outline his hopes for the definition in a statement in the Commons on Thursday, where he is expected to name organisations considered to be a threat to UK democracy.

Ministers and civil servants are likely to be banned from talking to or funding organisations that undermine “the UK’s system of liberal parliamentary democracy”.

The definition reads:”Extremism is the promotion or advancement of an ideology based on violence, hatred or intolerance, that aims to: 1.negate or destroy the fundamental rights and freedoms of others; or 2.undermine, overturn or replace the UK’s system of liberal parliamentary democracy and democratic rights; or 3.intentionally create a permissive environment for others to achieve the results in (1) or (2).”

It will be used by government departments and officials “alongside a set of engagement principles, to ensure they are not inadvertently providing a platform, funding or legitimacy to groups or individuals who attempt to advance extremist ideologies that negate our fundamental rights and freedoms and overturn the UK’s system of liberal parliamentary democracy.”

Michael Gove, with ,right, Rabbi Binyomin Stern, president of the UOHC, volunteer responder Aron Zvi Halpern, and Gavriel Schleider, chair of Hatzola

But the definition is not statutory and has no effect on the existing criminal law – it applies to the operations of Government itself.

The Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities added: “The United Kingdom is a success story – a multi-national, multi-ethnic, multi-faith democracy. It is stronger because of its diversity.

“But our democracy and our values of inclusivity and tolerance are under challenge from extremists. In order to protect our democratic values, it is important both to reinforce what we have in common and to be clear and precise in identifying the dangers posed by extremism.

“The pervasiveness of extremist ideologies has become increasingly clear in the aftermath of the 7 October attacks and poses a real risk to the security of our citizens and our democracy. This is the work of Extreme Right-Wing and Islamist extremists who are seeking to separate Muslims from the rest of society and create division within Muslim communities. They seek to radicalise individuals, deny people their full rights, suppress freedom of expression, incite hatred, and undermine our democratic institutions.”

Lord Walney, Independent Adviser on Political Violence and Disruption, said: “The threat to Britain from extremists includes those who may not use violence directly yet target our core values, so it is welcome that this updated definition includes those who seek to undermine or replace liberal democracy.

“Greater clarity in defining extremism can underpin a concerted approach across civil society to protect our country.”

Professor Ian Acheson, Senior Advisor, Counter Extremism Project said: “These are necessary next steps to confront and deter those who advocate for violent extremism. Hateful anti-British ideas that undermine our democracy creating intimidation and fear need ideologues to drive them. It is intolerable that the state underwrites people and organisations poisoning community life in one of the most successful multi-ethnic countries in the world.”

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: