‘Islamist organisations are paid by government to come up with ideas on how to improve British mosques. It can’t be worse, can it?’
So it has finally been said. Angela Merkel has said it, David Cameron has said it, The Outsider has long been saying it. Multiculturalism has failed.
Say something critical of multiculturalism, as David Cameron has, and the reaction is predictable. The Guardian and Independent will pretend this is some government-led attempt to make Britain all-white. And some dim opposition MP (in this case Sadiq Khan) will use the opportunity to claim that the culprit (in this case the Prime Minister) is a dangerously subversive “propagandist” for the “far-Right”.
So saying it isn’t easy. But doing something about it is far harder. How do you actually put the policies into effect? How do you stop the multi-culti gravy-train?
In Munich, David Cameron said that we must stop the public funding of groups which are opposed to our most basic societal values. But I can’t help wondering if he’s aware of the depth of the problem. Because the funding of extremist groups isn’t occasional in the system which this government inherited. It is instrumental. And dug in. Let me give just one example.
The Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board (Minab) was set up in 2006 under the last government. Since then, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has given £250,000 to a conglomeration of Muslim groups to “set standards and establish a system of self-regulation for mosques”. All well and good, you might think. Those mosques could do with some regulation.
But — you guessed it — the groups who are among the founders of this new organisation are themselves part of the old problem. The Jamaat-linked Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) and the Muslim Brotherhood organisation called the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB) are two of Minab’s four founders. But they wield a disproportionate amount of control over the organisation. Highly sectarian and Islamist organisations are paid by government to come up with ideas on how to improve British mosques. It can’t be worse, can it?
Well, sadly, yes. Because Minab has other roles. Until last year it worked with the Charity Commission as part of its “Faith and Social Cohesion” unit (FSCU). This unit within the Charity Commission (also part-funded by DCLG) aimed to encourage mosques (including MCB and MAB mosques) to register as charities and to achieve better governance. What has clearly been escaping the Charity Commission is that Minab not only advised the “Faith and Social Cohesion” unit, it also constituted part of its target-group and evaluated its own activities. Which is a pretty neat tie-up.
And it gets worse. After government cuts last year killed off the FSCU, the Charity Commission announced that Minab would step in to continue the unit’s work. What little regulation the dolts at the Charity Comission once provided has now gone.
If there is one site in the UK where anti-British sentiment is expressed most regularly (other than in universities) it is mosques. No church, synagogue or temple would last a second if the Christian, Jewish or Sikh equivalent of, say, al-Qaeda ideologue Anwar al-Awlaki had preached there. Mosques are clearly worthy of concern.
But let us say that the Prime Minister has an omnipotent capability. And let us say that he uses it to stop funding to groups whose values are antithetical to this country. How exactly will the order be carried out?
It should be obvious that Minab, the MCB and MAB are highly backward, sectarian organisations — exactly the sort of people to whom funding should not go to. So the DCLG and other departments could conceivably be persuaded to cut off any public funds going to them in future. But what about the Charity Commission? It has outsourced its regulatory role over mosques to a group whose founding members present exactly the same problem that Mr Cameron spoke about in Munich. There is very little likelihood that the funding will actually be cut so long as government departments and institutions which should implement the cutting of funding to sectarian groups are themselves in hock to, advised by, evaluated by, and have their work outsourced to exactly such groups.
A couple of months ago, I managed to get a bad man sacked from his role advising government. An article of mine highlighting the individual’s activities made it to Eric Pickles’s presumably capacious breakfast table. Perhaps this one will too. In which case Mr Pickles, and indeed Mr Cameron, will realise that the next job is far harder. Weeding rotten apples out of the system is easy compared to weeding a rotten system. But that is what is going to have to happen. Whole arms of government are not able to do the job they are meant to do. If David Cameron’s fine words in Munich are ever going to be put into action the government will have to recognise that fact — and change it.