Trojan horse

Nick Clegg has damaged Britain’s counter-extremism strategies

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

We’re too frightened of appearing ‘racist’ to have a debate about immigration

A rather typical 24 hours in the life of modern Britain.  Everyone does another round of ‘we need to be able to talk about immigration.’  The main parties once again say (as though this were a great revelation to the rest of us) that it is not racist to talk about immigration.  The Labour and Conservative representatives then go on the BBC’s Question Time and claim that the Ukip candidate (now Ukip MP) for Rochester and Strood is a racist. And a Labour shadow minister mocks the awfulness of people who fly the national flag.   Meantime, if you scroll down the news stories you can read about the chief inspector of

British Muslims must confront the truth of the ‘Trojan Horse’ schools

The Trojan Horse reports are in, and they make for damning reading.  ‘An aggressive Islamist agenda… a coordinated, deliberate and sustained action to introduce an intolerant and aggressive Islamist ethos’. Teachers who claimed that the Boston marathon bombing and the murder of Lee Rigby were in fact hoaxes and an ‘Attack on Islam’. And so on. The grim details are out. But there is a story behind this story which has not been thought about, though it ought to be. That is the response of Britain’s Muslim communities to these awful revelations. Ever since 9/11 a considerable appeal from the non-Muslim majority in the West has been ‘where are the moderates?

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

Douglas Murray

Britain has let Islamists run riot – as today’s report into the ‘Trojan horse’ plot reveals

Peter Clarke, a former counter-terror chief, has published a report today which reveals that an ‘aggressive Islamist agenda’ was pursued in ‘Trojan horse’ schools in Birmingham. He has found evidence of a coordinated plan to impose strict Islamic teaching on pupils. This piece by Douglas Murray was originally published in the print edition of The Spectator magazine, dated 14 June 2014: Who’s up, who’s down? Who’s in, who’s out? While Westminster spent last week gossiping about which minister’s special adviser said what, in another city, not far away, a very different Britain was unveiled. On Monday, the Chief Inspector of Schools, Sir Michael Wilshaw, published his damning investigation into the ‘Trojan Horse’ affair. Ever since allegations

Lara Prendergast

Report claims ‘aggressive Islamist agenda’ pursued in ‘Trojan horse’ schools

The Department of Education has published a damning report today which suggests there was an ‘aggressive Islamist agenda’ pursued in a number of the ‘Trojan horse’ schools in Birmingham. Peter Clarke, a former counter-terror chief, published the report, which found evidence of a coordinated plan to impose strict Islamic teaching on pupils. Michael Gove, the former Education Secretary commissioned the report. His successor, Nicky Morgan has presented the results of the investigation to the House of Commons: listen to ‘Nicky Morgan’s statement on the Trojan Horse scandal report’ on Audioboo

Michael Gove is being helped by Labour’s poor discipline and weak attacks

It doesn’t really matter whether Dominic Cummings’ Times interview was unhelpful to Michael Gove. Labour has just been about as helpful to the Education Secretary as it possibly could be without announcing that it supports everything he does, right down to the detail of the history curriculum. Education questions this afternoon was the perfect opportunity to exploit the gift of an interview in which Gove’s trusted former adviser attacked David Cameron and the Number 10 operation. But the attack never really came. Kevin Brennan asked about Cummings’ line that he signed into government departments and Number 10 as ‘Osama bin Laden’. Gove’s reply was, as predicted, ornate and beautifully defensive.

Ex-Tory minister: free schools will let extremists in

The row about extremism in schools has over the past week widened out to the role of faith in education in general. This morning I interviewed Crispin Blunt, a former Conservative Justice Minister and Duncan Hames, a Lib Dem MP, for Radio 4’s The Week in Westminster. Blunt told me he fears that the Coalition’s own flagship free schools programme will sow division in England and allow extremist sects to educate children at the taxpayer’s expense. He went so far as to suggest that free schools would move England towards the situation in Northern Ireland: listen to ‘Crispin Blunt and Duncan Hames on faith in schools’ on Audioboo

How should we respond to events in Birmingham?

As metaphors go, calling the alleged plot to take over schools in Birmingham a ‘Trojan Horse’ is a pretty powerful one. This allegedly was a devious attempt by a group of extremists to invade a protected space, ousting headteachers, making false allegations against staff and employing dirty tricks with the aim of imposing a fundamentaist Islamic ideology. I agree with David Cameron when he states: ‘…the issue of alleged Islamic extremism in Birmingham schools demands a robust response.’  So how should we respond? In 2011 I was privileged to chair the independent review into teacher standards, a document that details the minimum requirements for teachers’ practice and conduct.  As part

Podcast: the betrayal of British Muslims and the new Iraq war

Do we need to take more action to tackle the Islamist threat in British schools? On this week’s View from 22 podcast, The Spectator’s Douglas Murray and Matthew Parris debate this week’s cover feature on whether the Birmingham ‘Trojan Horse plot’ is the results of years of weak policy and inaction. Should we wait until there is more concrete proof before taking drastic actions? Is the promotion of British values the right solution, and how can the government go about defining and teaching these values? James Forsyth and Isabel Hardman also discuss how the West Lothian Question will be addressed at the next election. Where do all of the parties

PMQs sketch: easy sling-shots and grubby sloganising

If there’s a problem in Birmingham it’s too gnarled and subtle for PMQs. Easy sling-shots and grabby sloganising are all that’s required. Ed Miliband had found a simple point of entry to the issue. Buck-passing. Who, he asked, is responsible for monitoring schools that incubate extremism? listen to ‘PMQs: Cameron and Miliband’ on Audioboo

Video: Matthew Parris vs Douglas Murray on responding to the ‘Trojan Horse plot’

What should the government do in response to Ofsted’s report on the Birmingham ‘Trojan Horse’ plot? On this week’s View from 22 podcast, Spectator writers Matthew Parris and Douglas Murray debate if there was an organised plot, how worried should we be about the revelations, whether the Education Secretary should reconsider the funding of faith schools and the role of education in addressing the issues. We’ve put together video highlights of the debate (above). Our regular View form 22 episode will be out tomorrow, subscribe here to receive automatically on your device.

Britain needs ‘Church schools’ and ‘faith schools’

Following Freddy Gray’s piece yesterday about the pundits’ efforts to exploit the ‘Trojan Horse’ affair in order discredit ‘faith’ schools, I thought you might be interested in the statement below, from the Catholic Education Service, which pretty well sums up the argument. One person the CES may have in its sights when it talks about the charge of indoctrination is the former Education Secretary, David Blunkett, who observed yesterday that: there was a ‘muddle’ in the heart of government when it comes to religious schooling. ‘Our society does need an open, liberal — small ‘l’ — curriculum that embraces all faiths and no faiths, and teaches children to think for

Ed West

I dread the thought of my children being taught ‘British values’

I’ve been off the past week poncing around Rome in a frilly shirt, and so am naturally gloomy about coming home. Just to make it worse, I return to hear of the death of my childhood hero and news that schools are now going to be teaching ‘British values’, following the Birmingham Trojan Horse scandal. Many are shocked about what happened in the city. After all, who would have thought that importing millions of people from totally different cultures would cause so many problems? You’d literally have to be Nostradamus to see that one coming. And of course, this is nothing to do with the intrinsic weakness of a society

Alex Massie

The Trojan Horse affair illuminates a vital difference between the Tories and Labour.

The reaction to the Trojan Horse scandal has, in my view, been as interesting – and telling – as anything in the scandal itself. It is not, of course, surprising that opposition parties, including the Liberal Democrats, should seek to make capital from the drama in Birmingham but the manner in which they do so remains valuably illuminating. Gove-bashing plays well with the loyal remnants of the Lib Dem base and given the choice between pandering to his base or defending liberalism Nick Clegg must these days pander to his base. So be it. The case of Tristram Hunt is more interesting. The dismal thing about Ed Miliband’s leadership of

Isabel Hardman

Nick Clegg wants greater control over academies and the curriculum

The ‘Trojan Horse’ scandal in Birmingham is, inevitably, being used to prove the pet arguments nurtured by a number of people, even though the reality is more complicated. Some argue that this shows the dangers of faith schools, even though these were not faith schools. Others, including Nick Clegg and Tristram Hunt, are arguing that the ‘balance’ of oversight of free schools and academies needs to be corrected, even though not all of the 21 schools investigated by Ofsted were outside local authority control. The Deputy Prime Minister was on the Today programme this morning, and he dropped a number of comments that suggest he’s keen to make changes, and changes

Labour fails to land any blows on Gove or May over Trojan Horse schools

How to deal with Islamist extremism is one of the great issues of our time. What has gone on in these Birmingham schools is a reminder of how real a threat it is to this country and how determined the proponents of this warped worldview are. But before we turn to that question, a quick reflection on the politics of today’s events in the Commons: The row between Michael Gove and Theresa May over how to approach this issue resulted in the Education Secretary having to apologise and May having to jettison one of her special advisers. It was a major political embarrassment to the government. Labour tried to capitalise

Freddy Gray

Can we stop pretending faith schools are the problem?

Liberal secularists don’t like faith schools. Obviously. When confronted with stories of Islamists overtaking state schools in Birmingham, they have no difficulty diagnosing the problem. It’s not an Islam issue, or an extremism issue — it’s faith schools. Faith schooling is where the rot starts, even if these Islamified academies are not actually faith schools. We should therefore oppose all state funding for faith-based education. Catherine Bennett said as much in the Guardian, and lots of social media types seem to agree. Dan Hodges of the Telegraph this morning tweeted: ‘All faith schools are Trojan horses. We need faith based education like we need a hole in the head.’ It