Francis Maude: Working to defeat Islamic extremism

It would be impossible to write this week without mentioning the terrorist attacks in France, which have sent shock waves around the world.

Saturday, 17th January 2015, 5:00 am
Horsham MP Francis Maude

Coming so soon after Peshawar and Sydney, this is one very dominant global news thread at the moment and it concerns us all. The UK terror level threat remains unchanged at ‘severe’, which means an attack is extremely likely. We need to be really careful that as politicians none of us use these events for political purposes. There are legitimate arguments around immigration and legislation on communications data, but no one should exploit the heightened emotions aroused by these events for political ends.

Islamic extremism is a political ideology supported by a small minority, which we need to defeat. However, extremism is by no means an inherent characteristic of the Islamic faith. Extremism can arise within virtually any culture and it is important to avoid conflating the beliefs of the extremists with those of ordinary Muslims across the globe, the vast majority of whom simply want to get on with their lives in security and peace, living alongside those of other faiths or none.

In the UK, the Government is working hard to encourage faith leaders to involve themselves in local action, promote strong networks on the ground and engage with young and impressionable people.

The PREVENT strategy provides practical help to stop people from being drawn into extremism by working with a wide range of sectors where there are risks of radicalisation.

The strategy helps local authorities understand the threat from extremism and the powers available to them to challenge extremist speakers. It also supports community-based campaigns, as well as faith organisations, which can effectively rebut terrorist and extremist propaganda.

While there is no easy answer to the eradication of extremism, I am glad that Ministers have been able to prevent hate preachers from coming to Britain to spread their objectionable beliefs. In addition, groups or individuals that condone, or fail to distance themselves from, extremism are prevented from being given a public platform. I am also pleased to see the UK is working hard on a global level. By working with our international partners, we will continue to combat the indiscriminate and deadly threat of Islamic extremists, such as ISIL, so that the ordinary people of Islamic countries can build a better future for themselves.

I should also mention yesterday’s news that inflation is at 0.5 per cent, a level it has not reached since May 2000.

While inflation has long been held to be the enemy of people on a tight budget, this news has produced a flurry of concern that such a very low level may be bad, close as it is to zero and the risk of possible deflation.

But lower inflation and rising job numbers do show that the long term plan is working, bringing more stability for our economy and more financial security for people right across the UK.

We should not forget that when we came to office in 2010 we inherited an economy on its knees, reeling from a great recession under Labour which made our country poorer and hit family budgets across the country.

There is more still to do and we will always remain vigilant to ensure that inflation is low for the right reasons.

But this week’s figures show that the economic recovery is starting to be felt in people’s pockets as well as on government graphs.