Combatting Islamist extremism requires, first and foremost, Michael Gove-style focus. It was the former Education Secretary who, in government, led the drive to tackle it. Islamist ideology was specifically identified as a key problem. Islamist groups were deprived of government patronage, money and platforms. Extremist speakers were barred from Britain – such as Zakir Naik, banned by Theresa May after a struggle with officials. Peter Clarke was appointed to probe the Trojan Horse plot in Birmingham. Over 250,000 pieces of extremist and terrorist material were removed from the net. Over at the Charities Commission, William Shawcross fought the good fight, succeeding in ensuring, for example, that the Roddick Foundation and the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust stopped funding Cage. Abu Qatada and Abu Hamza were extradited.
There is always more to do – for example, over incitement videos on social media. And as James Frayne has said on this site, the Prime Minister ought to make freedom of speech in Universities a personal cause, in much the same way that she has done with human trafficking.
Which takes us to the “integration agenda” that UKIP released yesterday. It can truly be said that the good bits of it are not original (such as the proposal to crack down on postal vote abuse, which Peter Golds and this site have been arguing for over five years), and the original bits are not good. Indeed, they are not only bad but dishonest. The party wants annual “school-based medical checks on girls from groups at high risk of suffering FGM”? Why doesn’t it just say “Muslims”, and have done with it?
It is true that prosecutions for FGM are needed; the lack of them is indeed “a national scandal“. But there must be surer means of finding them than requiring medical staff to enter schools once a year in order to inspect the vagina of every Muslim schoolgirl in the country – on compulsion if necessary.
This takes us to the heart of the matter. What UKIP is proposing is not an integration agenda, but a desperation agenda. Nigel Farage is not standing in this election. Arron Banks said that he would stand, and is now not standing, at least in Clacton. Douglas Carswell has rejoined the Conservatives. The party’s finances are in dire straits – which explains why it is floating not standing candidates against MPs who backed Brexit: UKIP simply can’t afford to run a fully-fledged campaign. Last year’s referendum result has meant it losing an empire and not finding a role. And leaving the EU means that its main tranche of elected representatives – its MEPs – will disappear. No wonder it needs a way of making its manifesto stand out. By deliberately blurring the difference between Islam, a diverse religion, and Islamism, the political ideology, it has duly found it. It is a classic illustration of Vice Signalling.
In the meantime, Paul Nuttall seeks to dodge questions about whether or not he will stand in this election, and where. He would be helped in doing so by some form of clothing that would shield his identity from pesky journalists and voters. We offer our suggestion to the right of this article.