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Part five of our commentary on Gordon Brown's speech to Chatham House

The fifth and final part of our commentary on Gordon Brown's
Speech by the Rt Hon Gordon Brown MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer, on "Meeting the terrorist challenge" given to Chatham House, 10 October 2006.

What does the Chancellor know about "Cultural action against terrorist extremism" ?

Cultural action against terrorist extremism

It is by fulfilling the responsibilities I have as Chancellor to seek to deny terrorists finance that I have become even more aware not just of the scale, complexity and sophistication of terrorist activity but its long term nature as a threat, bringing home to me the bigger, deeper questions we all have a duty to address.

The threat from Al Qaeda did not begin on September 11th - indeed the attacks on the twin towers were being planned as the United States was taking action with Europe to protect Muslims in the former Yugoslavia, and was leading the most concerted drive in decades for peace in the Middle East.

So why did the Labour Government effectively ignore this threat from 1997 until 2001 ?

Nor will the threat end with the withdrawal of international forces from Iraq and Afghanistan. It is a totalitarian terrorism founded on animosity to our values.

We actually agree with this statement !

To root out terrorism we are rightly investing in our military and security forces and our police and intelligence services both at home and abroad - doubling our investment in security since September 11th to £2 billion a year.

"doubling our investment in security since September 11th to £2 billion a year."

The Chancellor cannot resist putting political spin and gloss, on financial figures which he, of all people, should be very familiar with.

Surely Gordon Brown is insulting the collective intelligence of his audience at the Royal Institute for International Affiars - Chatham Houseaand even our modest capacity for facts and figures, by implying that the current budget is running at £2 billion a year"

In fact, according to the 2006 report by the Intelligence and Security Committee and the Intelligence and Security Committee Report into the London Terrorist Attacks on 7 July 2005 (.pdf)

  • "The total Single Intelligence Account allocation rose from £1,313.7m in the 2004/05 financial year to £1,361.3m for 2005/06; £1,480.0m for 2006/07; and £1,553.0m for 2007/08."

Not all of this is spent on anti-terrorist "security", it also has to fund the Security Service MI5, the Secret Service MI6 and GCHQ, who all have other duties as well.

Some £85 million of extra counter-terrorism funding (mostly for the Metropolitan Police) was signed off by Gordon Brown after the July 2005 attacks.

This does not add up to £2 billion a year being spent soley on anti-terrorism security, right now, does it ?

And I want to pay tribute again to our police and security and intelligence services for their dedication in protecting us here in Britain, and our armed forces for their extraordinary bravery across the world: public servants whose courage is legendary, and whose work is magnificent - the best in the world - and daily they make us very proud.

And it is right that our armed forces should be properly rewarded. Already British forces do earn significantly more than their US counterparts and the majority of international forces. But the Secretary of State for Defence and I have agreed that we can go further and increase the award our forces receive when on operational service in the most dangerous conflict zones. This will seek to ensure that the extraordinary job our forces do and the risks they take and the danger they endure is once again acknowledged, making them amongst the best paid of any armed forces in the world.

It is extraordinary that no other NATO military forces, except those from the United Kingdom, have to pay income tax when they are on active duty overseas, yet only now is Gordon Brown promising to get around to eliminating this anomaly, in the future.

Because of our armed forces’ courage, alongside America and other allies, since September 11th, many of Al Qaeda's leaders have been killed or captured, and their bases closed down.

Afghanistan has had its first full elections for decades, with millions of women voting and millions of girls back in school.

Why is the opium / morphine / heroin trade, which funds so much international Organised Crime and Terrorism, still flourishing in Afghanistan then ?

The Iraqi people are starting to see Al Qaeda for what they are - not interested in Iraq's future, but trying to exploit the fragility of its emerging democracy and the presence of international troops to spread its extremist message.

What we confront is not a conventional fight, and therefore cannot be won by conventional methods. So it is right that we tackle not just terrorism but the roots of terrorism. Nothing can justify terrorists’ acts. But as we tackle injustices that breed resentment we must match our security strategy with an economic and political strategy too. And it is by showing we are not just fighting against terrorism, but fighting for peace and prosperity for all people across the world, of whatever religion, that we will extinguish the heat that ignites the extremists' fire.

How, is that going to be achieved by this Labour Government ?

The architects of the peace after 1945 knew, in the words of Dean Acheson, that peace and prosperity were indivisible.

First and most urgently we must act to put the Middle East road map back on track - and we must underpin that political road map with an economic road map, to show that we can address the widespread problems of poverty and unemployment and that politics can deliver for people in terms of jobs and hope for the future. I will continue to visit the region to push this economic agenda forward,

How exactly will expensive, taxpayer funded, foreign trips by the Chancellor, achieve any of this ?

Presumably this is part of Gordon Brown's "Prime Minister in waiting" performance on the world stage.

supporting Tony Blair and Margaret Beckett in their wider efforts - because securing peace in the Middle East will not only offer lasting peace and prosperity to Israelis and Palestinians alike, but do more than almost anything else to address the greatest grievance among moderate Muslims over the world.

But we now know also that Africa is home to a growing number of Al Qaeda cells. It is also the source of new immigration to Europe - men and women seeking a relief from their poverty by journeying to benefit from European prosperity in the absence of the African prosperity we should be helping to create. So with the equivalent of a modern Marshall Plan for Africa, we must work with the continent's leaders - and the next stage is our ‘education for all children’ initiative, together showing that globalisation is not a cause of injustice and poverty but a force for justice on a global scale.

Where is the money for this "Marshall Plan for Africa" coming from again ?

Why are there any poor people left in Africa after Gordon Brown's alleged "success" at the G8 Gleneagles summit last year ?

But above all, we need to do far more to isolate extremists who practice terrorist violence from moderates of all religions. What gives us hope that we will succeed is the fact that the values that respect the dignity of all individuals unite peaceful religions across the world, and that they can form the basis of a shared understanding about how to secure a prosperous peace for all, no matter to what religion individuals adhere.

We should remember from 1945 the united front against Soviet communism involved not only deterrence through large arsenals of weapons, but a cultural effort on an extraordinary scale.

Newspapers, journals, culture, the arts and literature sought to expose the difference between moderation and extremism.

Foundations, trusts, civil society and civic organisations - links and exchanges between schools, universities, museums, institutes, journals, books, churches, trades unions, sports clubs, societies - all formed a front line in this cultural effort.

How many KGB and CIA artificial "front organisations" were there, and how many genuine organic "cultural efforts" ?

What is so different now ?

And it was by power of argument, by debate and by dialogue that over time we changed attitudes and then changed systems.

Eh ??? Surely Gordon Brown is re-writing history again - no mention of the economic effects of the "Star Wars" arms race between the Soviet Union and the USA.

How many Communist fanatics had their "attitudes" changed "by power of argument, by debate and by dialogue" ?

Maybe he means former hardline Communist extremists, like the current Home Secretary and former Defence Secretary John Reid, who we do not believe has changed his authoritarian repressive police state mentality.

And so today the isolation of the extremists - and ultimately the end to terror - depends not just upon armies and treaties alone.

Success depends on what no alliances, no covenants, no charters, no laws can exclusively deliver permanently on their own.

It depends upon winning hearts and minds - the day-in day-out, week-in week-out month-in month-out, year-in year-out continuing and ever deepening work of isolating and confronting extremes, tearing down old prejudices, building new understandings and changing attitudes and views.

Is Gordon Brown threatening us with Permanent Revolution ?

This is a debate as much for our communities as for our Parliaments; as much for community leaders as for politicians; as much for each individual place of worship as for national and international faith leaders - and for all the institutions that represent the moderate majority not to ignore extremism but to confront it.

By showing we are not engaged in a war against any religion - and instead building a common humanity between moderates of all faiths in all parts of the world - our aim must be to tackle head on those who seek to drive a divide between the great religions of the world.

So today we have to argue not just against terrorism and terrorists but also against the violent perversion of a peaceful religious faith. And we have to recognise that the very existence of the internet and the exchange of ideas across it means that it is not only right now but necessary to engage these ideas openly and win the global battle for hearts and minds.

And it is an illusion to believe that if we leave today’s extremists alone, they will leave us alone. Unless moderates can establish themselves at the centre of their communities and faith, extremists could grow in strength and influence. To leave them alone on the ground they might leave us alone would be an unpardonable error.

That means not just the security measures I have outlined but taking the debate, discussion and dialogue to all countries and all communities through media, culture, arts, and literature - in partnership with moderate Muslims and moderates everywhere - as we tackle at root the causes that risk driving people into the extremists hands.

It means we must seek to show that while we are engaged in a war against extremism, we are not engaged in a war against Islam. It means we must build on the conferences we are now holding with Muslim thinkers, encouraging debate and dialogue not just among community leaders but among young people, making it easier for them to make links with other young people with shared experiences and interests across the country and across the world.

Does this imply financial and moral support for the likes ofthe Mayor of London Ken Livingstone, when he fetes, at taxpayers' expense, allegedly extremist Islamic scholars like Yusuf al-Qaradawi ?

Within Britain the debate that Jack Straw has encouraged about the veil will continue. In the wider debate about diversity and integration, we should also emphasise what we in Britain need to have in common - the responsibilities we should accept as citizens, as well as the rights. I believe all who live in this country should learn English, understand our history and culture, take citizenship tests and citizenship ceremonies.

How many native born British citizens would fail such tests ?

And I believe that we should now focus on making sure that the quality and scope of citizenship and history education in all our schools give young people a basic understanding of the values and traditions of what it is to be British.

Does that mean that the teaching of British History is now to become a core part of the National Curriculum ?

Internationally, we must work not just with our allies but with independent international organisations that are dedicated to reform and democracy.

And it is our duty to support them, to provide funds where necessary, to open doors where necessary, to identify obstacles and remove them.

Is Gordon Brown planning to support the the democratically elected Hamas Government in Palestine, which has both an international charitable and welfare aspect, and also a terrorist one ?

Supporting civil society projects and scholarships in the Middle East, North Africa and across the world is important. Much is done by the Foreign Office directly. But the work of the British Council is of great importance too and I applaud the work the British Council does

Today we invest, as much as £100 million a year in supporting civil society in these areas but if there is more than can be done, we must do it.

The BBC World Service and its website is a trusted source of news and information for millions across the world. BBC World TV can be seen in 270 million homes in more than 200 countries. The BBC's Arabic TV channel begins this year. The BBC's proposed Farsi TV Channel is an editorially independent specialist TV service for the people of Iran. And I am pleased to announce that we are making available the resources for this today.

None of this is specifically part of the official UK counter-terrorism strategy - (CONTEST), is it ?

If Gordon Brown had any sense, he would be funding al-Jazeera satellite TV , both because of its large audience in the Middle East, and its willingness to discuss issues which are censored by the various regimes in the area.

SInce it was set up by BBC trained staff, and now includes a couple of British journalist sand broadcasters (even Sir David Frost), perhaps there is some covert funding and support for al-Jazeera, despite the threats to, and attacks on its staff and offices by the US Government etc.

But there is a further challenge not just for us, but for all of us across Europe to address and meet.

Al Qaeda's message - it’s single narrative - aims to have global resonance - from Afghanistan to the streets of Britain, from the huts and slums of Africa and Asia to every one of the richest cities in every industrial country - a narrative that purports the West is waging a war on your religion, seeks to murder your people, steal your resources and corrupt your culture; that it is your duty and noble cause to defend your people against this attack.

This single narrative must be met by a clear headed and unified response.

If you substitute the words "Islamic extremism" for the word "West", is this Gordon Brown's "unified response" ?

"Islamic extremism is waging a war on your religion, seeks to murder your people, steal your resources and corrupt your culture; that it is your duty and noble cause to defend your people against this attack."

We must expose the hatred that drives the extremist ideology; expose that this is not a clash of civilisations nor of cultures; expose that on the one side stands all civilised societies founded on the dignity of all people of all faiths and on the other an extremist violent ideology where murderers take innocent lives for notoriety.

No room for any doubt then, is there ?

Presumably "either you are with us, or you are against us" ?

More than ever we need a unified response - to match the single narrative of the extremists and the terrorist networks

Indeed it is only by standing up for our values, by winning the battle for ideas, by showing the values of liberty, democracy, and justice

"liberty, democracy, and justice" - once

are the best ways of respecting the dignity of all individuals that we will prevent the indoctrination of future generations of terrorists.

Instead of which, the NuLabour Government policy has been to erode and destroy the "values of liberty, democracy, and justice ", through its repressive and often incompetently draughted anti-terrorism and criminal legislation and centralisation of state power.

They are being manipulated by the terrorists, into doing the work of destroying our society for them.

But too often from across the democratic world an uncertain trumpet sounds.

If Europe and America cannot come together with a clear and common message, and then together work more closely with all continents, then this weakness will in itself be a tacit encouragement to terrorism.

It already is, and Gordon Brown and his colleagues are complicit in this appeasement.

Of course there have been disagreements within and between countries on matters as important as the war in Iraq - and in democracies there will always be so.

But enduring American values and enduring European values both have, at their heart, the pursuit of liberty, democracy and justice

"liberty, democracy and justice" - twice

as essential to the dignity of all individuals and all peoples. And what unites us is far far greater and far more profound and fundamental than what divides us.

So just as we did in the last century, and just as we did after September 11th when America and Europe stood shoulder to shoulder, America and Europe need to come together with to agree yet again that our shared values are the common ground on which we build - and that together we must work with all countries,

How can you "work with" , say North Korea or Iran or the People's Republic of China ?

all continents and all faiths of the world to isolate terrorist extremists and prevent the indoctrination of a new generation of terrorists.

So every military dictatorship and repressive police state is now your friend, in the "war against terorrism" provided that they pay lip service to the "anti-terrorism" mantra ?

Does that mean that there is to be no intervention in Darfur against the Sudanese regime and their proxies, despite what Prime Minister Tony Blair promised in his Labour Party Conference speech ?

And such is the importance of the values that we share in common that there should be no future for anti-Americanism in Europe. Indeed we should explicitly state that American values and European values are as one in counter posing to extremist ideology that glorifies terrorism the values of liberty, democracy and justice

"liberty, democracy and justice" - third time.

"I have said it thrice : what I tell you three times is true!" -

The Bellman, The Hunting of the Snark by Lewis Carroll, 1876

When uttered by NuLabour politicians like Gordon Brown or Tony Blair, words like "liberty, democracy and justice" assume an Orwellian doublethink aspect, and they just seem to be mere slogans, to which they pay lip service to.

as essential to the dignity of all individuals - and we should be emphatic in saying that that we will work more closely together with all countries, all continents, and all faiths to win this generation-long struggle of hearts and minds.

And closer co-operation between America and Europe in addressing the roots of terrorism should lead to practical new approaches to isolating extremism which I plan to propose, and across continents encouragement for the broadest possible dialogue of all the faiths.

Exactly how will this plan stop British citizens from being radicalised and attacking us here in the UK ?

When can we see the details of this proposed plan ?


I started by saying that we face global challenge that must be met globally, with all the means at our disposal: military, security, political, economic and cultural.

Over nine years as Chancellor my aim has been that where there is instability there be stability. But we know also that there is another greater challenge-where there is insecurity there should be security, where there is fear, freedom from fear. And such is the threat that the message must go out: we will not yield, relax, rest, ever become complacent or lower our guard.

Our priority as a government: a Britain strong in security, robust in our resolve, resilient in any response,

Gordon Brown's NuLabour "verbless" nuspeak rhetorical style is less noticable when reading the text, but it still manages to annoy us.

so that as a nation we both defeat terrorism and isolate violent extremism wherever we confront it and whatever its source.

We apologies for the length of these postings about Gordon Brown's speech to Chatham House.

Since he is likely to be the next Prime Minister, at least until the next General Election, this speech is extremely worrying for those of us who do not think that the Government are doing a good job in countering terrorist threats, and who fear that the bureaucratic "Big Brother" Surveillance State is much more of a danger to our society, than any half baked plots by amateur terrorist wannabes.


Nice summing up of Browns Speech. The guy seems a bit out of touch with reality IMO. Some of the security ideas he talks about are very flash but would hardly put off a determind terrorist from blowing something up. Are we to be checked everywhere we go, supermarket, local stores, cinemas, cafes, getting on the bus, walking down the street. You only have to look at what a nightmare it has been in Isreal to show that a murderer with a bomb can always find something to blow up.
It has to be said that the killing of innocent women in children in Iraq has done nothing to put off potential terrorists, rather the reverse. Of course Blair/Brown would say we need evidence for that conclusion. The rest of us with simple common sense don't. The number of dead recently released on the news has been rubbished by the politicians involved. So lets be generous, cut that figure in half. That is still over 300,000 people... I am totally stunned that the government of the country I live in has been involved in anything like this.

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