British Values, ISIS & Welfare Bills

July 20, 2015 at 11:35 pm

A busy day in the world of politics today saw David Cameron start us off with a nice big speech that was apparently ‘years in the making’. It always fascinates me when politicians talk about ‘Islamist Extremism’, mostly because they haven’t a clue what it actually is, why it exists or how to stop it. This complete lack of awareness is fuelled by something similar to what NHS employees see every 5 years or so, people at the top turning up in their hospitals telling them how things ought to be run.

Why does this happen? It’s all part of the Westminster bubble effect that the SNP have been talking about for the past decade or so. Cameron and his ilk surround themselves with people who want to ‘make it’ in the world of politics, not with people who might actually have a bit of expertise in… something. Anything. Today’s speech was very much another product of this bubble. Nobody in the Conservative Party has a clue about extremism, except that they have to be seen to be doing something after 38 British Citizens were murdered in Tunisia.

Not only do they have no clue, they don’t have any friends who have a clue either. News that Maajid Nawaz, a former extremist himself and occasional stripclub-frequenter, allegedly helped David with his speech is no surprise either. Whilst the political elites in London think he’s the best thing since Halal Chicken, the rest of the Muslim population see him for exactly what he is: a fraud. He may well be a former extremist, but he doesn’t have a clue about British Muslims, yet claims to speak on our behalf. Note that his instantly forgettable book(s) about himself and how wonderful he is for becoming an extremist and turning his back on that are available in all good pound shops. Autographed with a personal message. Probably.

Anyway, the point is that the government seem to be using him, and people similar to him, as some kind of sounding board or yardstick for everyday Muslims in the UK. Which is almost as preposterous as the EDL using Anjum Chaudhary for the same purposes. They’re a pair of idiots on the opposite end of the scale: one’s an extremist that represents nobody and the other is a self-involved former extremist that represents nobody. And this is quite concerning, because Maajid seems to think that Muslims aren’t doing enough to combat extremism and now the government think this too. It’s no longer enough to condemn ISIS, we’re told. What more we must do, we are not yet told.

But let’s get something clear. Extremists don’t walk around the streets of Britain wearing Osama t-shirts or fluttering ISIS flags around in the wind. They don’t even talk about their ideas in Mosques. So on that basis, we genuinely don’t know who they are. Interviews on the tellybox with relatives/friends/neighbours of people who have left for ISIS or blew themselves up all have a pretty common theme: nobody saw it coming. Why? Because extremists don’t broadcast their views. Why? Because they know 99.99999999% of people they know are against it. Often in these interviews you’ll hear the friend pluck something innocuous out of thin air like: “He started boycotting Coca Cola, he changed after that”. It feels like this is the basis of this new government strategy to tackle extremism. Which is partly why it feels like thought crime. If I don’t want to buy Israeli chilli peppers, it’s because I don’t want to contribute towards a nation that kills children with impunity. Not because I harbour extreme views.

The new strategy gives the impression that British Muslims who oppose ‘conventional wisdom’ or Government policy are non-violent extremists and are on the fast-track to becoming the next Jihadi John. If you’re White and reading this, you may think that’s absurd, but it’s not you living in fear of your own thoughts. You may retort that you’re instead living in fear of your life, but as Mr Cameron himself said, these extremists kill Muslims too.

Just a quick note on the welfare bill that passed in the commons tonight, Labour MPs were told to abstain. But I’d suggest that had the people they claim to represent had done so in the same proportion on election night, their defeat would have been even more resounding. The rank hypocrisy of a system that urges you to vote, yet fails to vote itself makes me feel a little bit sick. Whether you agree with cutting £12bn from the poorest households and most needy in society is irrelevant, everyone who voted should feel betrayed by Labour’s disgusting mass abstention.