Seamus Milne’s column in The Guardian today is most revealing. Milne is completely frank that he believes that the government should engage with Islamism. As Milne writes:
“The issue is the government’s growing hostility to dealing with anyone connected with the highly diverse movement that is Islamism. This is a political trend that has violent and non-violent, theocratic and democratic, reactionary and progressive strands, stretching from Turkey’s pro-western ruling Justice and Development party through to the wildest shores of takfiri jihadism. But it’s largely on the basis of this blinkered opposition that the government is now funding Husain’s Quilliam Foundation, promoting other marginal groups such as the Sufi Muslim Council and turning its back on more representative bodies such as the Muslim Council of Britain.
This is a dangerous game, whether from the point of view of reducing the threat of terror attacks on the streets of London or narrowing the gulf between Muslims and non-Muslims in the country as a whole.”
Milne robustly defends Shahid Malik, the Labour Minister who wanted to attend Islam Expo despite the role of those with extremist views in organising the event. Milne goes onto quote a Labour Minister decrying the government’s policy, ably crafted by Hazel Blears, of not engaging with Islamists: “This cannot continue, it’s completely counterproductive. You have to engage with those with influence over those you want to influence."
Now, even Lestrade of the Yard might fancy his chances of identifying the source of the anonymous quote. One wonders whether this is minister believes that the best thing for his career would be to be sacked by an unpopular Prime Minister.