David Blackburn

A glimpse of Home Secretary Grayling?

A glimpse of Home Secretary Grayling?
Text settings

Chris Grayling’s reputation as a one-dimensional attack-dog was accentuated by his ill-judged comparison of Britain with Baltimore. The argument laid against Grayling is that he shouts about the government but provides no more than a whisper about policy. However, Grayling shows deep and nuanced consideration of policy when interviewed by Martin Bright in the Jewish Chronicle. Grayling’s subject is extremism and failing multi-culturalism. I apologise for its length, but here is the key section:

‘“I think the government has to make it absolutely clear that anyone in our country who espouses violence is not going to be able to do business with the government of the day and in many circumstances will be putting themselves in danger of prosecution.

“I will be sending a strong message that we will not tolerate violent extremism in this country. And we will not hesitate to move against groups or individuals who encourage it.

“I have some serious misgivings about the way in which Prevent money is being used. I think there are plenty of indicators that it is being channelled in a way that is actually in the end funding extremism rather than reducing extremism.”

Mr Grayling emphasised that there would be a fundamental shift of community policy under a Conservative government. Theories of multiculturalism that suggested that communities should be permitted to live side-by-side without integration had sometimes created cultural and religious ghettoes.

“My view is that the role of government is to support activities and organisations that break down community divisions. It is not the job of government to accelerate the ghettoisation of our society.

Pressed for specifics, he adds: “Public money should not be supporting the Bradford Muslim football league or the Leeds Jewish football league. It should be supporting the Yorkshire Boys’ football league. It should be seeking to bring different groups together and foster understanding rather than accentuating divides”.’

There’s little that’s new here, but the way Grayling envisages implementation is coherent, comprehensive and co-ordinated. He acknowledges the interconnectivity of social, political and religious problems - that extremism motivated by one set of precepts and circumstances engenders antithetical extremism in other groups, and thus is self-perpetuating. That the Tories plan to change community policy is clear. The pledge not to appease or ignore incitement to violence and religious hatred and rigidly subject all extremism under the law is stronger than anything the government have proposed or enacted. There is an implied rejection of the sacrosanct view that multiculturalism should not require integration and a degree of uniformity. Crucially, Grayling makes no reference to pernicious detention orders and seems to repudiate an approach that eroded civil liberties. On this evidence, Grayling is not a one-dimensional politician and may prove a larger asset to Cameron in government than opposition; expect more from him next week.