James Forsyth

An extreme error

An extreme error
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Last night Charles Farr, a civil servant who coordinates the government’s counter-terrorism strategy, delivered the Colin Cramphorn memorial lecture. Farr was expounding on and defending the recently released edition of the government’s counter-terrorism strategy.

Listening to Farr, one was struck by how the government still can’t properly grasp that terrorism is merely a symptom of a wider problem, the hold of extremist Islamism on a small but significant section of the British population.

Frustratingly, there have times when the government seemed ready to grasp this nettle. After 7/7, Blair declared: “We will start to beat this when we stand up and confront the ideology of this evil. Not just the methods but the ideas”.  In the lead-up to this release of the government’s counter-terrorism strategy, there were also heavy-hints that the government would move from trying to prevent violent extremism to trying extremism per se. Sadly, those advocating such a shift—most notably Hazel Blears—have been defeated inside government.

It is imperative that, if elected, the Tories make this shift immediately. As we say in our editorial this week, “It would be disastrous for community cohesion if we waited until the next attack by British citizens on British citizens before embarking on this task.”

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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