Imagine, if you will, that the Liberal Democrats discovered that a school that was receiving government funds had two BNP members as its trustees, one of whom was Nick Griffin’s wife. Imagine that its head teacher turned out to be a BNP activist who had written inflammatory and sectarian articles in BNP News, in which she argued that exposure to non-White culture was destroying the future of the White Race. Imagine that the philosophy of William Pearce appeared in sections of the school curriculum.
Then, imagine that the school had nevertheless been given a clean bill of health by OFSTED.
What would this Government’s reaction be?
Would they condemn the Liberal Democrats for scaremongering? Would they intimate that they hated White people?
Or would they acknowledge that something had gone wrong: in the school, in the Department, and with the inspection?
Ed Balls has written a truly shocking piece in the Telegraph this morning. It reads as if he has simply shut his eyes to the very clear evidence of strong links between the fascist group, Hizb ut Tahrir, and the ISF Schools.
Forget that both schools are properly registered and inspected.
Forget the fact that in all Ofsted’s inspections, no evidence has been found that extremist or anti-semitic views are being taught.
Forget that the only public funding these schools have received is from their local councils to provide free nursery places for local three and four year olds.
Predictably David Cameron’s false allegations generated tabloid headlines such as: “Extremists benefit from state funding” and “£113,000 aid to fanatics who want to kill us”.
But at what price? Parents and children being told that ‘fanatics’ are teaching their children – presenting a propaganda victory for both extremists in the Muslim community as well as Islamaphobic and racist organisations on the far-right.
We all know how difficult it is for a country like ours to tackle the extremist threat effectively. We have to be vigilant and investigate every potential threat.
But we also have to be responsible and work with the law-abiding Muslim community.
If we bandy around accusations regardless of the facts, and take action regardless of the evidence, we will just end up alienating the very communities we need to help us tackle extremism.
This approach does not help to tackle extremism. It sets back our efforts.
I hope the Conservatives will think more carefully about how they debate these issues in future.
This is a remarkable response.
Faced with strong evidence from Newsnight that “extremists in the Muslim community” are, in fact, closely involved with the ISF Schools, Ed Balls argues that merely to point this out in some way bolsters Muslim extremists and the far Right.
It is the provision of government funds to a school that is evidently linked to far right Islamist group that strengthens that politics. It makes it look as if this Government is simply unconcerned about Hizb ut Tahrir, and is refusing to do anything about the evidence of the connections between Hizb and ISF. It makes the argument for the BNP and SIOE and the other Muslim-hating groups.
Ed Balls is playing this affair all wrong. Condemn the Tories’ sensationalism if you want, take the piss out of Gove for confusing Pathfinder with PVE.
But don’t pretend that there is no problem.
It makes Labour look silly and irresponsible and leaves Ed Balls looking like an incompetent Polyanna.