“One of the bravest things I have witnessed is the stand taken by ex-Cabinet Minister Hazel Blears against political Islam. As her adviser, I saw first-hand the pressures on her to sit round the table with groups whose political outlook was the diametric opposite of her beliefs in pluralist democracy, rights for minorities and equality for women. She consistently stood firm.
“For years, government ministers unquestioningly invited the leaders of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) to meetings to ‘represent’ the political, ethnic and religious diversity of Britain’s Muslims, as though such a thing were possible. First under Ruth Kelly, then Hazel Blears, the Government wised up to the nonsense that a small, unelected group of men, drawn from the conservative elements of Islamic politics, spoke for millions of Muslims in modern Britain….
“The hardliners in the MCB and other groups were challenged, not fêted. It culminated in a boycott of the MCB after one of its leaders attended a conference in Istanbul dominated by supporters of Hamas…..
“The way to tackle this strand of political Islam, which creates the environment for terrorists to brainwash and recruit potential bombers is not to debate with it, nor to invite it for tea at the Department for Communities or Number Ten. It is to expose it, disrupt it, and make it clear such views are repulsive and unacceptable. The new Secretary of State, John Denham, and the new Communities Minister, Shahid Malik, arrived at their desks this week. All eyes will be on them.”
Paul Richards in the Jewish Chronicle, 11 June 2009
Given Richards’ former role as Hazel Blears’ SpAd, this article provides a useful insight into the sort of ignorant, bigoted thinking behind DCLG’s decision to sever links with the MCB. At least we’ve now got rid of the truly appalling Blears, whose backstabbing antics in relation to her own party have hopefully destroyed any future revival of her political career. Things, as they say, can only get better.
Update: See also ENGAGE, 12 June 2009