Yesterday, the Communities secretary unveiled the new counter-terrorism strategy, known as Contest 2, a commitment to challenge those who “reject parliamentary democracy, dismiss the rule of law and promote intolerance and discrimination on the basis of race, faith, ethnicity, gender or sexuality”.
Ominously, Contest 2 spells out that the new policy will be reflected in the groups that are supported and the projects that are sponsored as part of the £70m programme to prevent violent extremism. Due warning that there will be a cat fight amongst the many ‘professional advisors’ as to who can get their snout in the trough.
An early casualty was the Muslim Council of Britain. Their deputy general secretary Daud Abdullah was signatory to a document which stated that resistance would be appropriate if UK forces were used to prevent arms reaching Gaza. Inciting your followers to take up arms against British soldiers would appear to be a sound reason not to include you in a list of advisors funded by the government, and Ms Blears has demanded Daud be sacked if they wish to continue to advise her.
The Guardian was most upset about this. They call this a ‘perverse decision if the aim is building the broadest possible alliance to take on the extremists’. An arguable point – if you want to understand extremists, then there is some justification for including them in your debate – a point made by Tony Blair when he decided to court Gerry Adams and Martin McGuiness in Northern Island, and I would concede the point if extremists of all hues were to be included.
One of the aims of Contest 2 is to challenge those who “reject parliamentary democracy, dismiss the rule of law and promote intolerance and discrimination on the basis of race, faith, ethnicity, gender or sexuality”.
Logically the Guardian should be calling for ‘inclusiveness’ for the BNP as well. (I doubt that I shall live to see the day!) Two weeks ago, a group of some two dozen people armed with knives and hammers, turned up at a political fundraising meeting in Liverpool. Tony Ward, a BNP party member, needed 11 stitches after he was attacked in an organised disruption of the evening. The BNP polled 14.5% in the Leigh South ward. Understanding why parliamentary democracy is being rejected in Leigh, and by whom, is at least as important as whether a man who supports Hamas is included in a list of advisors. The Guardian failed to ‘thunder’ on this occasion.
Nor did Ms Blears or the Guardian appear upset when Lord Ahmed threatened parliament with an ‘army of 10,000 Muslims’, nor when Harriet Harman decided the ‘will of the people’ was more important than the rule of law in deciding the fate of Sir Fred Godwin’s pension. The hypocrisy is as breathtaking as it is shameful.
If you wish to foster ‘inclusiveness’ as a social policy, then you must include all, it is an oxymoron to exclude those who don’t share your views. Daud Abdullah’s views are as distasteful as the views of those who beat up Tony Ward, or Lord Ahmed’s threats. The Guardian’s views, of wishing to include some extremists, whilst ignoring others, under the banner of inclusiveness, is surely the most distasteful view of all.