SACC Statement on the 2015 Election

SACC is not aligned to any political party and has no collective view on whether or not Scotland should be an independent country. We campaign against Britain's unjust anti-terrorism laws and other similar laws that criminalise our minority communities and suppress political dissent.

The threat to our civil liberties from laws introduced in the name of the "war on terror" received some attention in the 2010 general election, but is being ignored by all the main parties in this year's election. We are asking our supporters to help us change this.

Britain's terrorism laws institutionalise Islamophobia. As well as putting the Muslim community under pressure from official institutions, they give oxygen to far-right groups and normalise Islamophobic attitudes amongst otherwise ordinary people.

If the politics of discrimination and hate continue unchecked, it will be impossible to achieve the unity we need in order to turn back austerity or move towards more democratic governance in Scotland, either as an independent nation or as a part of the United Kingdom. We cannot put an end to discrimination as long as it remains entrenched in anti-terrorism legislation. The struggle against this legislation cannot wait. It must be waged alongside our other struggles.

The Counter-Terrorism and Security Act, which received royal assent earlier this year, is the most blatantly Islamophobic legislation yet enacted in Britain. It gives legal force to the Government's Prevent programme – a discriminatory and Islamophobic programme to suppress political dissent in the name of preventing people from turning to terrorism. Besides crippling political life in our minority communities and promoting Islamophobia in the majority community, it will have exactly the opposite effect to the one claimed for it. It will drive some people towards terrorism.

The Prevent programme has so far been relatively unobtrusive in Scotland. But the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act will compel local authorities, the NHS, schools and universities to impose it. If they do not, the UK Government can issue an order to compel compliance. Political life in Scotland will change for the worse as a result.

We urge our supporters to raise these issues with election candidates, and to take their responses into account when deciding who to vote for.

SACC campaigns for the repeal of all Britain's anti-terrorism laws and for an end to intrusive, secretive and arbitrary action by the intelligence and security agencies. We hope that Scotland's future MPs will support these goals. But in any case they must commit to doing their utmost to achieve the following urgent reforms:

  1. There must be an end to the kind of mass surveillance currently being carried out in Britain by GCHQ.
  2. The Counter-Terrorism and Security Act must be repealed.
  3. Pending the repeal of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act, immediate action must be taken to to amend the Prevent Duty Guidance for Scotland issued under the Act in order to protect the political freedoms of people in Scotland and remove blatantly Islamophobic elements of the Guidance. This can be done with minimal parliamentary time. There is no excuse for delay.
  4. Police powers to stop and question people at ports and airports under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 must be abolished. These powers are used in a discriminatory way to target Muslims, but have also been used to target non-Muslim political activists. Schedule 7 questioning trashes the right to silence that people have in all other circumstances. It is frequently abused to coerce people into working as informers for MI5 or the police. It has to go.

We also demand that election candidates commit to defending the UK's Human Rights Act against attempts to repeal or undermine it, and to upholding the binding authority of the European Court of Human Rights over the UK. The ECHR is a valuable - though often timid - bulwark for people in the UK against abuses of government power. The role of the ECHR in Britain is a separate matter from Britain's membership of the EU, about which SACC has no collective opinion.