DAVID Cameron will, inevitably, be accused by some of Islamophobia in the wake of a brave, and hard-hitting, policy speech that set out the context for a raft of laws to counter home-grown terrorism and the radicalisation of impressionable young Muslims by militants from the Islamic State.
Yet critics should consider the issue from the Prime Minister’s perspective. Ten years after the world was shocked by the July 7 suicide bombings in London, his Government is having to ask itself why there are UK families who would rather find themselves at the mercy of IS radicals and their twisted ideology. Not only has Talha Asmal, a student from Dewsbury, become Britain’s youngest ever suicide bomber after blowing himself – and innocent civilians – up in Iraq, but an extended Bradford family is among those to have fled to the hellhole that is Syria.
As such, the only people who should have anything to fear from Mr Cameron’s blueprint are those who are exploiting their position in communities to brainwash those susceptible to IS and its increasingly sophisticated use of internet technology. Britain has gone out of its way to embrace multi-culturalism and it is right that the Government should attempt to silence the rhetoric of those who seek to undermine this country’s cherished values.
If there are measures that senior Muslims do not support, it would be helpful if they entered into a constructive dialogue with Ministers. It is the interests of all if the Government can work in tandem with community leaders on this agenda and Mr Cameron’s promise to do more to help young people from isolated and deprived communities to become active citizens is a very helpful start. Perhaps Asian role models could now reciprocate by explaining, persuasively, how the British way of life has been compatible with their faith. If they did so, the Government’s task might be slightly less daunting.
LABOUR’S REFUSAL to accept that its policies are economically bankrupt reached a nadir last night when so many of its backbenchers voted to oppose the Government’s welfare reforms. Rather than accepting the public’s belief that spending on working-age benefits is too high, the Opposition appears to have learned nothing from its electoral humiliation on May 7.
The only two people to have emerged from this process with some credit are the interim leader Harriet Harman, who tried to introduce some realism to Labour’s position before being rebuked by Shadow Cabinet members, and the Blairite leadership contender Liz Kendall who has become an increasingly isolated voice of reason.
The fact that both women were rebuked by the three remaining leadership contenders, and militant union boss Len McCluskey who accused Ms Harman of “running up the white flag”, shows the extent to which Labour is stuck in the past and in the pocket of the trade unions.
Understandably this is manna from heaven from the Tories who are increasingly gleeful that the veteran left-winger Jeremy Corbyn could actually win the contest with his anti-business and anti-austerity agenda.
Yet, while Chancellor George Osborne sought to exploit this by appealing to “moderate” Labour MPs to back the Government in last night’s vote, it would be impertinent if he allowed himself to become too gleeful: his task is to implement the savings in a manner that rewards hard work while protecting the most vulnerable. Labour infighting must not distract him from this mission, or its importance.
Where’s the teeth?
AS the price war between the major supermarkets intensifies still further, it is inevitable that Yorkshire’s food producers will suffer as the major players look to cut costs while attempting – simultaneously – to protect their market share and profit margins, the two parameters regularly used to determine the fate of senior executives.
Yet, while consumers will benefit from cheaper food bills, this is now a major test for the Groceries Code Adjudicator which was set up to protect the interests of those suppliers who complained about the ruthless business practices being pursued by the major supermarkets in response to the emergence of discount stores like Aldi, Lidl and Netto.
It is now increasingly clear that its remits needs to be extended to include farmers – the very people who are paying for these “price wars” with their livelihoods. Put simply, it is a waste of time having a public watchdog if it has no teeth – or it cannot stand up to big business.