Monday, October 19, 2015

The North by North Westminster Diary: Cameron Goes to Extremes

Monday 19th October
David Cameron is having one of those awkward British moments. You know the sort. You really want to talk honestly about race or religion and you don’t want to upset anybody, but then in your efforts to Morris dance round the subject, you end up saying something that upsets a lot of people.
As it happens, he was talking about Islamic Extremism, and whilst he went so far as to say that “extremists in no way represent the true spirit of Islam”, his actual programme ended up pissing off a lot of the Muslims he was trying to engage.
The Muslim Council of Britain was particularly irate. It’s Secretary General, Dr Shuja Shafi, said moves actually suggested "all aspects of Muslim life must undergo a 'compliance' test to prove our loyalty to this country", and that he detected “McCarthyist undertones”.
No doubt, these moves that particularly single out one religion carry a great risk of alienation, but “McCarthyist” seems a little alarmist. Maybe it’s something about the difference between British and American political discourse, but you can’t really imagine a parliamentary committee routinely asking people “Are you now or have you ever been an attendee at a community centre in Bradford that we’re not quite sure about?”
Anyway, in an attempt to pour oil on the waters, the Prime Minister sent out Theresa May, who has a recent track record of unifying rhetoric and impeccably judged comments on multiculturalism.
The Home Secretary said that the Government was aiming at “all those who spread hate”, and included neo-Nazism in this. This appears to be quite a sound doctrine, and to that end, Ms May should perhaps take a look at a really vile, divisive and poisonous speech that was delivered by a crazed zealot in Manchester earlier this month. She shouldn’t have to look too far to find it. She probably still has a draft of it in her office.

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