Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Prevent Strategy

The Government's "Prevent" programme for trying to stop the spread of Islamism in the UK has come in for some attention recently. The Tax Payer's Allowance released a report on the 8th September detailing the various organisations that had received money under this scheme (read the report from here).

The report revealed that much of the money went to groups who did not oppose extremism (but who were not extreme themselves) while some went to extremist groups. Matthew Sinclair argued that the strategy should be scrapped essentially because the scheme is impossible to implement properly. Ed Husain argued that it should be continued but fixed.

I think Prevent should be scrapped for two important reasons. The first is that not only can it not be implemented properly but that it cannot work. The money must go to one of three groups. The recipient may be inactive in the area of extremism (neither opposed to it nor encouraging it) in which case the money is wasted. The recipient may be a proponent of extremism in which case the money is counter-productive. But even if the recipient works to oppose extremism the receiving of money from the State will undermine its efforts completely. No one with animosity towards the British State (the kind of people Prevent is supposed to encourage to turn away from extremism) is going to listen to groups funded by the British State. Perhaps this is why Rochdale Council refused to disclose who they gave money to claiming that it would be commercially detrimental to a third party.

But the main reason why Prevent should be scrapped is that it is wrong. The State should not be in the businesses of funding some ideas and not others. The State should not put its weight behind some ideology and should not preach to us what we should or shouldn't believe. If we want to be a liberal country we must allow the free flow of ideas, not gang up to fund some against others.

Scrap Prevent and let people believe what they want. Use the money to make sure that the Islamist cannot blow me up, don't use it in an attempt to force people to believe what the State wants them to believe.