There is a reason why Britain, in the words of one French official, is and remains the “Pakistan of the West”, an incubator, entrepot and exporter of Islamic radicalism. There is a reason why, according to MI6, we face a “unique” threat from home-grown extremists. There is a reason why Britain is the only country in the Western world to have been subjected to a successful suicide terror attack by its own citizens. These things have happened, in part, because the last government, and Britain’s security establishment, got its policy just about as wrong as it was possible to get. We were harsh where we should have been liberal ”“ and liberal where we should have been harsh.
Control orders, the push for three months’ detention without charge, random and blanket stop-and-search, and Britain’s complicity in torture did little or nothing to restrain terrorism. But they undermined the rule of law for which we are fighting, angered middle-of-the-road Muslims and gave the extremists priceless fuel for their favourite narrative, “Islam under attack”.
At the same time, we were crazily indulgent of some of the world’s most dangerous Islamist radicals….