Charles Moore Charles Moore

The Trojan Horse affair is about subversion, and only Gove understood this

Peter Clarke’s powerful report on the Trojan Horse affair in Birmingham schools is confirmation of the weakness of David Cameron in demoting Michael Gove. When Mr Gove appointed Mr Clarke to conduct the inquiry, there was execration — even from the local police chief — about how wickedly provocative it was to put a policeman with counter-terrorism experience into the role.

But Mr Clarke was just the man and his inquiry has swiftly and efficiently uncovered serious problems of Islamist bullying and infiltration. Too late to reap a political reward, Mr Gove is vindicated.

The next time this problem arises — and there undoubtedly will be a next time in another British city — what minister will have the courage to do what he did?

The Clarke report also highlights the error of the ‘securocrats’ in discarding the concept of subversion. MI5 proudly boasts on its website that, since the end of the Cold War, it has not investigated subversion. By concentrating only on actual terrorism, it has failed to understand how Islamist extremism works, particularly its power in intimidating fellow Muslims and preaching a pseudo-religious political narrative in which the West is always in the wrong.

The Trojan Horse affair is exactly about subversion. As with the original beast, our own guards failed to spot what was within the gates. When Margaret Thatcher was education secretary in the early 1970s, the Chief Rabbi, Immanuel Jakobovits, told her that her job made her ‘the real minister of defence in this country’. Islamists understand that concept, and work ceaselessly to weaken that defence.

Mr Cameron has moved the only minister who really understood this. As Prime Minister, he directs the security agencies. If he is proud of the Gove legacy, as he says he is, he should charge them to investigate subversion once more.

This is an extract from Charles Moore’s Notes in this week’s Spectator.

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