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By Donald Judge

Woolwich, Islamism and the West

By Rob Marchant – Senior Fellow

24th June 2013

Just two little vignettes on the tragedy in Woolwich, where an off-duty soldier was murdered with a machete in broad daylight:

First, our old friend Ken Livingstone was up to his old tricks. I don’t for a moment suggest that he failed to condemn the attacks – he did – but he, apparently uniquely among the political class, made that old trick of moral relativism for the left, linking unspeakable terrorist acts to Britain’s foreign policy:
“In 2002, before the invasion of Iraq, the security services warned the Prime minister, Tony Blair, that this would make Britain a target for terrorist attacks. We are still experiencing the dreadful truth of this warning.”

Or, roughly translated, “I told you so, I told you so, ner ner ner ner ner”. Apart from the crassness of trying to make that political point in a moment of tragedy, and whether you agree or disagree with the specific case of Iraq being a correct decision, it is obvious to all but the entirely bereft of intelligence where the logic of that ends up: you must never upset any religious group or foreign power, no matter what, because you might one day be attacked.

Further, it is precisely that logic that Al Qaeda and their miserable allies would like the whole world to take on, because it discourages Western countries from ever challenging them.

It is also an indication of how far Livingstone has fallen – when he was in power during 7/7, he made a statement which was, in fact, quite statesmanlike, and made no mention of the war that we were at that time in the middle of. As George Eaton rightly bangs him to rights in the New Statesman:
“aside from noting the crude simplicity of blaming the Iraq war for yesterday’s attack, one might note that Britain hasn’t had troops in the country since 2011. “

Second, well done to the BBC, for going that extra mile for quality journalism and asking “extremist preacher” Anjem Choudary for comment, then being surprised and outraged when he failed to condemn the attacks. For those who follow this man’s guttural career, it was not so much of a surprise. As Stephen Pollard tweeted last night:

“having Choudary on TV isn’t a free speech issue. Of course programmes have the right to do so. That doesn’t mean they have to.”

This is the Choudary, who knew one of the alleged perpetrators of the killing and who, let us not forget, who tried – and failed – to organise a fatwa against the extraordinarily brave schoolgirl Malala, shot in the head by the Taliban. And who was a vocal supporter of Osama Bin Laden and led prayers after his death. Frankly, if Choudary is still walking the streets, we might reasonably conjecture that it is only because MI5 have classified him a fool rather than an explicit danger to society.

Shocking though the events in Woolwich were, perhaps more shocking is how Britain had, despite a number of thwarted bomb plots over the last few years since 7/7, lulled itself into an entirely false sense of security; anything, rather than accept the reality, which is this: that the theme of Islamism – as opposed to Islam – and the West could well dominate the geopolitics of the coming decades, long after Iraq and Afghanistan are forgotten.
As someone with a bit of experience about these things said last year:

“The West is asleep on the issue of Islamist extremism.”

It is, and Britain is no exception. Not just in its failure to deport the likes of Abu Quatada, but in its seeming blindness to the radicalisation that is going in within its own communities.

And nowhere is this blindness more prevalent than on the British left.

About Rob Marchant

Rob Marchant is a Senior Fellow at the HSC. He is a political commentator, management and communications consultant, Labour activist, social entrepreneur and blogger. He previously worked as a senior manager for the Labour Party through the 2001 and 2005 general election campaigns. He writes for The Centre Left and, as well as in the New Statesman,the Huffington Post and in his regular column at LabourList, publishes at LabourUncut, Left Foot Forward, Harry’s Place and Progress.