David Cameron is on a war footing at home and abroad. He wants parliament to send British planes to bomb Isis forces in Syria and he has launched a new offensive against Muslims in Britain.
Cameron chose a Birmingham school to declare that “Great British resolve” had beaten Adolf Hitler, Communism and the IRA—and was ready for the new enemy of “Islamic extremism”.
The far right was mentioned only in passing. The real target of the Tories’ Extremism Bill was clear from his speech made in front of a mainly Muslim audience.
Cameron said he would enforce “British values”. There would be “no more turning a blind eye on the basis of cultural sensitivities”.
This is just another way of saying the Tories will be more open about their Islamophobia.
He claimed it was “an exercise in futility” to pretend extremism had nothing to do with Islam. And it wasn’t enough for Muslims to denounce Isis atrocities to demonstrate they were against extremism.
He claimed to “believe in respecting different faiths, but also expecting those faiths to support the British way of life.” But the only faith being told how to behave are Muslims.
Part of the plan to make Muslims feel included was to appoint Louise Casey to conduct a “comprehensive review into boosting opportunity and integration to bring Britain together as one nation”.
She has been wheeled out by Labour and Tory governments alike to head up reactionary campaigns targeting working class people.
Under Tony Blair she was a homelessness “Tsar” who denounced charities, soup kitchens and the Big Issue magazine for “servicing” and so “perpetuating the problem”.
Most recently she headed up the Tories’ programme on “troubled families”. Casey said her concern was that “we have lost the ability to be judgmental because we worry about being seen as nasty to poor people”.
Casey’s role will be to bolster the Tories’ ideological assault that says that Muslims must prove they are not violent terrorists.
Muslims in Britain are not to blame for terrorism or the rise of Isis. The responsibility lies with the legacy of the West’s wars in the region. The occupation of Iraq inflamed sectarian divisions and left chaos which allowed Isis to grow.
Yet Cameron wants to join the US bombing of Syria, as well as Iraq.
It was revealed last week that he has already sent British RAF pilots to join bombing missions led by other countries’ forces. But when Cameron proposed bombing Syria in 2013, parliament rejected it after Labour voted no.
Even some on Cameron’s side have pointed out a deeper contradiction in his plan.
In 2013 the vote was over whether to bomb forces loyal to Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad after he had used chemical weapons on his opposition. Today Western bombing is targeting not the dictator, but his enemies.
Julian Lewis, the Tory chair of parliament’s defence select committee, said Cameron’s rush to Syria sounds like “it’s been put together on the hoof”.
At the same time Tory former chief of defence staff Lord Richards argued for military escalation. He said this probably means troops on the ground.
The fact that Tories are arguing among themselves shows the problems the warmongers face.
The defeats in Iraq and Afghanistan still hang heavy on the memory of the ruling class. They did not increase the West’s power in the region, but instead exposed its weaknesses. Yet the people of Afghanistan and Iraq paid the biggest price.
Western bombing is all about regaining control of events in the region—not about the plight of those suffering at the hands of Isis. It will fuel support for Isis and bring more terror to people who have already endured years of war.
The Tories plan to do all this while blaming Muslims for violence. Activists will have to mobilise against them—particularly as this time craven Labour looks set to back them.
Historian John Newsinger writes
All out for Palestine