Former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott was always the Labour Party’s licensed maverick. Just weeks away from the general election, one could be forgiven for being a cynic on the timing of his remarks about Tony Blair’s ‘crusader’ tendencies saying he “wants to invade everywhere” . Some may ask, is he seeking to apologise for ‘terror’ or merely explaining it?! Or at least, they’d ask him that if he was Muslim!.
But there are other points worth remembering in the wake of his remarks.
Saying that Mr Blair’s “bloody crusades” in Iraq and Afghanistan have led to the radicalisation of a generation of young British Muslims, Prescott echoes the opinion of former MI5 chief Eliza Manningham Buller in her 2011 Reith Lectures.
They also fly in the face of persistent lies that ‘the more Islamic you are, the more of a threat you are’ – the flawed premise that unpins the state’s Prevent policy, which aims to ‘reprogramme’ young Muslims who carry political views that dissent from the state’s policies – or who hold conservative and normative Islamic views – under the guise of ‘deradicalisation’.
Prescott can afford to be frank now he is long out of office. But sadly, we see the state extending the Prevent programme – started in his era – to add to UK state policies that oppress and aggrieve Muslims in the new Counter-Terrorism and Security Act.
And as we read and share Prescott’s comments, it is important we keep undermining these oppressive, McCarthiyite counter-extremism policies – that have nothing to do with stopping violence, and everything to do with clamping down the beliefs and expression of Muslims.
Media Representative, Hizb ut-Tahrir, Britain