Baroness Warsi’s approach is more sensible than David Cameron’s – extremism must be confronted not ignored

According to The Observer today, David Cameron has personally vetoed the appearance of the Chairman of the Conservative Party, Baroness Warsi, at the Global Peace and Unity event this weekend.

David Cameron’s decision is apparently a response to the presence at the event of a number of hard-line speakers who have justified suicide bombers and terrorism, promoted al Qaida, and encouraged homophobia.   Warsi, who is of course the first female Muslim Cabinet Minister, was planning to use the appearance to confront those advocating extremism and argue against fundamentalism.

A refusal to engage in this way merely allows unacceptable extremist views to remain unchallenged.  If no alternative is presented, those seeking to persuade people of the validity of that extremism are given a clear run.

The Conservative Coalition’s compromise is to send Andrew Stunnell MP, a junior LibDem Minister at the Communities Department to put the case against extremism, hatred and intolerance.

I don’t want to upset Mr Stunnell’s friends and family, but he is hardly a household name.  Nor is he a Muslim.  And nor is he as senior in the Government as Baroness Warsi.

So the Government is not actually boycotting the event, which might at least have made a point – in absentia – about its distaste for some of the views being expressed.  Instead, it is missing the opportunity to deploy someone who might at least to have been listened to when she put an alternative viewpoint.

Am I surprised?

No, not really.  It is a typically wimpish and ineffectual abdication of political and moral leadership.

5 thoughts on “Baroness Warsi’s approach is more sensible than David Cameron’s – extremism must be confronted not ignored”

  1. I am happy to promote Al’Qui’da but they ought to stop asinine attacks on public transport and go for the police and judges. There is a huge groundswell of support in slums for what can be termed “My enemies enemy is my friend”.

  2. There were two reasons that Warsi didn’t attend.

    The first is that this was an event that was organised by a group which is ideologically aligned with the hate preachers at the event. This wasn’t a neutral platform. Therefore, for a cabinet member to attend this event, would be like turning up at the BNP’s conference.

    I mean, should a Labour Party shadow minister turn up at a BNP conference in order to argue against racism? No, we’d no platform it.

    The second reason is that the Tories don’t entirely trust Warsi. She is a very strong opponent of the Al Qaeda type of Islamists: Al Muhajiroun, for example. However, she is also pretty close to a number of people who are supporters of the far Right Pakistani party, Jamaat e Islami. The Tories basically don’t entirely trust her.

    Think about the stick that we gave the Tories over their relationships with those dodgy far Right Polish politicians. They’re sensitive about that sort of criticism now, and rightly so.

    We in the Labour Party should also be concerned about MPs and shadow ministers and their relationships with Jamaat e Islami and Muslim Brotherhood aligned groups. This is an issue which could be a significant source of embarrassment to the Labour Party.

    For example, at this weekend’s event, there were speakers who have supported attacks on British troops, who have called for attacks on and the killing of homosexuals, who have supported terrorist attacks on British citizens, who have claimed that the Quran decrees eternal enmity between Jews and Muslims, and so on. All this was well known when a number of Labour MPs and shadow ministers agreed to attend.

    Did a single one of them name these hate preachers, or ask the Global Peace and Unity Conference organisers why they’d been invited?

    If not, why not?

    Why not ask your colleague, Lord Falcolner.

  3. Attacks on British troops? What are they doing in another mans country? Don’t tell me we are exporting democracy we don’t even have that here!

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