Douglas Murray

The ‘academics’ criticising the Prevent strategy are nothing of the sort

The 'academics' criticising the Prevent strategy are nothing of the sort
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This is how the madness spreads. While some politicians of the left continue to pretend that the situation in the Labour party and on the British left in general is salvageable, they seem not to realise that all their sluices are up.

Take a piece in Thursday's Guardian written by Alice Ross. The headline is ‘Academics criticise anti-radicalisation strategy in open letter.’ Of course only in the Guardian does an ‘open letter’ by such ‘academics’ as these merit a newspaper article. For only in the Guardian would the reporting be so piss-poor that the ‘academics’ in question would include people who are not even academics.

And I don’t just mean the lowest-grade occupants of fourth-rate universities such as David Miller of Bath, a man whose ‘academic’ career has included running conspiracy-theory blogs, many of which have anti-Semitic undertones. Or one Rizwaan Sabir, a strangely camp, shouty little man from Liverpool’s John Moores university who I had the misfortune of meeting in a BBC studio earlier this year when he showed himself incapable of listening, speaking or thinking. I mean that the signatories of this letter the Guardian thinks so important include people who can’t even count themselves luminaries on the level or Mssrs Miller or Sabir.

For instance another of the signatories to this letter claiming that the government’s anti-radicalisation strategy ‘lacks evidence base in science’ is Asim Qureshi of Cage. Now Asim Qureshi is very many things: friend of Jihad John, supporter of many a terrorist and defender of most Islamists. But I do not think he could ever be described as an academic. And then there is Haitham al-Haddad, described in the Guardian as an ‘independent scholar’ but better described as one of the nuttiest Islamists in the UK.

Anybody with any knowledge of this area would see from even a glance at the list of signatories that it is dominated by people who do not simply disagree with this UK government policy to tackle extremism but would disagree with any UK government policy to tackle extremism. The reason for that being that they are Islamists themselves. Deferring to Asim Qureshi and Haitham al-Haddad in the matter of counter-radicalisation policy would be like deferring to the late Jimmy Saville on a matter of child-care. Ordinarily, giving a piece over to reporting seriously such ill-informed lunacy would be a matter between Alice Ross and her bosses at the Guardian.

But as I say we live in a time when the British left’s sluices are up. Only a couple of days ago Andy Burnham – once merely a nasty opportunist with nice eyelashes – used a speech in Manchester to say very similar things about Prevent as these ‘academics’. In the views of the man who is still (remarkably enough) shadow home secretary it appears that it is not Islamist extremism that is the main threat to British security but the strategy set up to deal with that extremism. In the views of Andy Burnham the government’s solution is in fact the cause of the problem and he has called for the whole strategy to be scrapped while having no viable alternative strategy to put in its place.

Now as I have often said, I am far from being the greatest fan of the Prevent strategy which I think has all sorts of flaws and is arguably too limited in its range and ambition. But it is something. And it is striking that in the past the people who have sought most publicly for the policy to be scrapped are those who quite simply do not want Britain to have a counter-radicalisation strategy because they themselves favour the radicals or are radicals themselves. Only now that the left’s ability to exercise the most basic hygiene has reached its current level could a Labour shadow home secretary join such people.

Written byDouglas Murray

Douglas Murray is Associate Editor of The Spectator. His most recent book The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race and Identity is out now.

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