by Pat McFadden
The Prime Minister has hardly communicated energy in the fight against Islamist extremism with his yo yoing holiday plans but it’s not his physical location that matters most – it is the lack of a strong and clear plan to fight the battle in which we are engaged.
The ISIS killing spree targeting Christians, Yazidis and fellow Muslims, and the brutal horrific murder of American journalist James Foley should leave us in no doubt, if there was any in the first place, that we have to face up to the threat posed by the ideology which drives these actions.
The Prime Minister terms this a generational struggle. He is right about that. Yet he cannot bring himself to will the means to fight it because government decision making is imprisoned by the past, in particular by the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and by the Prime Minister’s immediate decision following last year’s Parliamentary vote on Syria to take the option of military intervention off the table.
Public opinion in both the UK and the US is war weary for understandable reasons. Many lives have been lost and many brave young servicemen and women have suffered life altering injuries as a result of long military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq. Yet opting out of this battle is neither possible nor in the end desirable because we have to defend our way of life, stand up for our freedoms and combat an ideology of mass murder based on a gross perversion of faith. We don’t have a choice about whether to engage in this fight. If we don’t go to it, it is coming to us.
In that regard, the government’s decision a couple of years ago to abolish Control Orders and give terror suspects in the UK new freedoms to move around the country and access the internet – and to put a sunset clause on the weakened regime even if the threat level posed by the person had not changed – now looks even more reckless and irresponsible than it did at the time.
The wrong analysis led to the wrong policy. The Government came to office believing that the laws of the land posed a threat to our liberty. But while security and liberty always have to be carefully balanced it is not the law of the land – heavily scrutinised by parliament and the judiciary – which poses a threat to our freedoms. That threat is posed by the ideology which saw James Foley beheaded on the internet and which would inspire the people who carried out this crime to target people in this country too.