An overlooked section of Theresa May's conference speech
By Paul Goodman
It's a debate that's divided political parties, the security services, the civil service and the police. Should government seek to target violent extremism (that's to say, acts of terrorism, such as the 7/7 atrocity, and those responsible), or extremism itself (in other words, the ideology that helps to inspire those acts, and those who further it)? Should government deal with the weed only, or the soil from which it grows?
Theresa May's speech on Tuesday got squeezed for coverage by Michael Gove's preceding debate, and those inspirational teachers and educationalists who spoke in it.
But this passage from her speech is worth noting -
"Foreign hate preachers will no longer be welcome here. Those who step outside the law to incite hatred and violence will be prosecuted and punished. And we will stand up to anybody who incites hatred and violence, who supports attacks on British troops, or who supports attacks on civilians anywhere in the world.We will tackle extremism by challenging its bigoted ideology head-on.
We will promote our shared values. We will work only with those with moderate voices. And we will make sure that everybody integrates and participates in our national life."
That's the most explicit indication to date that the Government's made up its mind: ideology matters, as well as acts. Theresa May made an excellent start by banning Zakir Naik from Britain. Some of her key civil servants need to get the message. The next test will be the Government's response to the Royal Ascot of British Islamism - the coming Global Peace and Unity event: see here and here
So the signs are encouraging. But Ministers now need to deliver.