Douglas Murray

Nick Clegg has damaged Britain’s counter-extremism strategies

Nick Clegg has damaged Britain’s counter-extremism strategies
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There is some fuss around the publication delay on the government’s review into the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood in the UK.  But why the fuss?  After all, if other news today is anything to go by, nobody reads government inquiries anyway - let alone bothers to act on them.

On the Muslim Brotherhood review and the possibility it will include negative facts about the group, the Financial Times quotes one ‘senior government figure’ saying last year:

‘This cuts against what the FCO has already been doing in this area… It risks turning supporters of a moderate, non-violent organisation that campaigns for democracy into radicals.’

So there are actually senior government figures in Britain who think the Muslim Brotherhood ‘campaigns for democracy’?

But more important is today’s BBC report, ‘Overlapping “Trojan Horse” inquiries criticised by MPs’:

‘MPs have criticised a "worrying lack of coordination" between five overlapping official inquiries into the so-called Trojan Horse affair.

‘It was alleged last year extremists had tried to take over several schools in Birmingham to advance radical interpretations of Islam.

‘A series of official investigations found the claims to be groundless.’

How could the BBC seriously report that fears of radicalisation in certain Birmingham schools last year proved ‘groundless’?  Well:

‘The chairman of the education committee, Graham Stuart, said that apart from one incident in one school "no evidence of extremism or radicalisation was found by any of the inquiries in any of the schools involved".'

Which is pure nonsense.  By the government’s own Prevent definition and criteria the Peter Clarke report alone uncovered a mass of evidence of extremist influences in certain Birmingham schools.  It is one thing for the BBC not to have read the Clarke report, but for the chairman of the education committee not to have read it either?

All of which brings me back to the Muslim Brotherhood inquiry and provokes me to ask again, what is the point of commissioning inquiries if nobody reads them, let alone acts on them, even when they are published?  It is eight months since the Clarke report was published.  Has anything been done to prevent a replay of the Birmingham situation?  To date one of the only schools threatened with closure since Trojan Horse is a Christian free school in Durham found guilty, among other things, of not teaching enough about Islam.

So the whole ‘review’ and ‘inquiry’ business would appear to be a colossal waste of time.  Indeed the only reason I can imagine why this government has kept commissioning such reviews and inquiries is that it buys more time until the election, after which point (fingers crossed) the Liberal Democrats will be an electoral irrelevance.

There may be some method in this.  After all, throughout this Parliament nobody has had a more negative impact on Britain’s counter-extremism and counter-terrorism strategies than Nick Clegg.  He started this Parliament by watering down the government’s Prevent review.  And now at the end of his period in office we learn that he is trying to block laws which would prevent Islamic extremists recruiting on British campuses. This country has a serious Muslim Brotherhood problem and, more generally, a serious Islamic extremism problem.  But it is no overstatement to say that the most serious national security problem of the last five years has been the Deputy Prime Minister.