THE UK Government’s lackadaisical and vague approach to a new definition of “extremism” tries its best to capture everything considered “extreme” under its irreverent scope. But the net is cast so wide, it has trapped the Government in with it.

On March 14, Michael Gove outlined the government's new extremism definition – one that fails to define anything. In a speech that seemed to produce the opposite of what he intended by it, Gove left many scratching their heads and asking: “So what is extreme then?”

It came only ten days after Rishi Sunak took to the lectern outside No 10 to share his opinion on what classes as extreme – namely, Islamists and the far-right.

He went on to further label them “two sides of the same extremist coin”.

READ MORE: What is the Government's new definition of extremism and what does it mean?

But the definition doesn’t exactly pin down these specific groups notorious for their violence and dangerous activity.

It instead lays out extremism more loosely as: “The promotion or advancement of an ideology based on violence, hatred or intolerance that aims to negate or destroy the fundamental rights and freedoms of others; undermine, overturn or replace the UK’s system of liberal parliamentary democracy and democratic rights; or intentionally create a permissive environment for others to achieve [this].”

If you can tease out the irony in the above, you’re not alone.

Like a poorly thrown axe rebounding, the UK Government’s perpetual rhetoric of intolerance for certain groups, which breeds extremism, marginalisation and division in this country, leads them to ungraciously face the sharp point of their own definition.

The irony that it’s members of the UK Government or their close allies who are exemplifying racism, migrant-bashing, Islamophobia, and overall hatred and intolerance is not lost on us.

Neither is the irony that it is the Tory government seeking to bend the UK’s system of democratic rights and freedoms by attempting to ignore the ECHR and clamp down on protests.

The National: Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron arriving in Downing Street (PA)

Moreover, the recent commitment by Foreign Secretary David Cameron (above) for the continuation of arms sales to Israel further underscores the hypocrisy of their movements.

As the death toll in Gaza climbs astronomically, with innocent men, women, and children suffering in unimaginable quantities, the UK Governments supply of arms contradicts their stated aims.

Despite heavy pressure both domestically and internationally, the UK Government appears intent on stoking the fire of further radicalisation and extremism through the death and destruction of Gazan lives, promoting the eradication of their fundamental rights.

Back at home, there is a litany of disastrously obscene comments from the likes of former deputy chairman of the Conservative party Lee Anderson in remarks about the Mayor of London, or party donor Frank Hester in his racism towards MP Dianne Abbott, or former home secretary Suella Braverman when she exclaimed: “Islamists have taken over the country.”

Institutionally, there is a level of hatred entrenching itself, and it cannot be ignored any longer.

All of this combines to demonstrate the government's flagrant attempts to divide us: an ignoble effort to play to our vulnerabilities as humans for cheap votes.

Given the immense failure of their policies, they have nothing to champion except to deepen the crevasses that separate the electorate. Thus, as we are pushed outwards to the fringes, we lose any sense of compassion and humanity. Instead, we cultivate a visceral reaction to those standing for what we don’t agree with.

This lays the groundwork for the ascent of Reform UK and controversial figures like George Galloway. Both relish playing to sides of the electorate that are growing ever more stubborn, departing from the centre ground to feast on issues that strike at the most fundamental and contentious of sensitivities: war and immigration.

It is true, as much as violence begets violence, so too does extremism beget extremism. Being loud and proud about your hatred for other groups gives others, in more extreme formats, legitimacy.

The National: Former prime minister Liz Truss during the launch of the Popular Conservatism movement at the

We see it clearly from the rise in religious hate crime and fringe organisations to the indoctrination of those chronically online, regurgitating racism and Islamophobia across the comment sections of social media.

More so than ever, we see it now in our mainstream. From far-right protests protecting statues from so-called “hate marches”, the racist and Islamophobic graffiti sprayed near the First Minister’s home, to former prime minister Liz Truss (above) standing idly by while Tommy Robinson is revered in front of her.

Even the Rwanda Bill, one which may have been classed as a step too far by more moderate conservatives of the past, is hailed as having the full backing of the UK Government.

However, it is also true that those who seek to divide masquerade themselves as truthseekers, claiming to represent the will of the populace. That is why the redefinition of extremism is inherently deceptive.

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The best course of action is not a vague redefinition, rather it is to take practical measures to ensure people do not become further ostracised or pushed to the fringes.

Martin Luther King Jr asserted that "darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that”.

It starts with the reinvigoration of our national self-esteem. We ought to action a desire to eradicate this arbitrary polarisation.

Through taking that first step and allowing ourselves to communicate with groups we disagree with, we will learn to appreciate that our realities need not be defined by our individual associations, but by what is common between us. That might just be enough to bring people together and forwards.

Sameer Hussain is a member of Holyrood’s cross-party group on Challenging Racial and Religious Prejudice and a former member of the Scottish Youth Parliament. He is currently studying economics at Heriot-Watt University and also serves as equalities officer for YSI Lothian.