Mind-boggling remarks from Margaret Beckett:
But let us deny the terrorists the historical importance they claim to themselves. They have no right to speak for the great and noble faith of Islam. This is a not a battle between civilisations but a stand-off between the whole of society on the one hand and a fairly small and particularly nasty bunch of murderers and criminals on the others.
In practical terms that means avoiding the temptation to artifically polarise debate.
I’ve seen it so often in the long-running debate on climate change: wheel out the resident sceptic, however unrepresentative or discredited, to generate tension and voice provocative views in the name of editorial balance.
It makes for more heated exchanges and louder headlines. But it is not the way to build a common consensus on the ground we share. And when it comes to counter-terrorism that is positively dangerous. It buys into the twisted rhetoric of division, so assiduously fostered by those who are the enemies of us all.
Yes, she’s actually attempting to lower the reputation of Islamic terrorists by comparing them to (shudder) climate skeptics. Obviously, I’m destined for the special, reserved, Tenth Circle of Hell.
As for the idea of denying terrorists (and their worse counterparts, climate skeptics) the oxygen of publicity, the Major government tried exactly that with the IRA. Gerry Adams, the IRA’s main political spokesman, (among others) was banned from speaking on TV. So the news services had footage of Adams speaking, with an actor – who sounded exactly like him – lip-synching his words. Looks like Osama bin Laden and Lord Lawson are next for the Adams treatment.