Ed Miliband calls for 'deradicalisation' of Britons drawn into Islamic extremism abroad
Ed Miliband has said the Britain must tackle home-grown extremism
Andrew Grice has been Political Editor of The Independent since 1998. He was previously Political Editor of The Sunday Times, where he worked for 10 years, and he has been a Westminster-based journalist since 1982. His column, Inside Politics, appears in The Independent each Saturday.
Friday 29 August 2014
Ed Miliband, writing in The Independent, has warned that Isis will not be defeated by military means alone.
In his first detailed statement on the new threat, the Labour leader calls for a political and diplomatic effort including countries from the region.
Although Downing Street has received no formal request from the US President, Barack Obama, to support air strikes against Isis in Iraq or Syria, the US is sounding out potential allies in Britain, Australia and the Gulf states about whether they would bomb parts of Syria to where Isis jihadists retreat after taking action in Iraq.
To combat home-grown extremism, Mr Miliband stresses that measures need to be taken, including the development a “mandatory programme of deradicalisation” for those “drawn into the fringes of extremism” after fighting in Syria and Iraq. He adds that an overhaul of the Home Office’s Prevent programme to stop young people being radicalised is also necessary.
The Prime Minister, David Cameron, has argued that military action should not be ruled out completely, saying that “learning the lessons of the past does not mean there is not a place for our military”.
However, Mr Miliband says that “if we learn anything from the events of the past decade, it is that we must proceed with clarity about our objectives and the means to achieve them”.
Ignoring Isis is not an option, though, he agrees: “In the face of this danger I am clear we cannot… simply shrug our shoulders and hope it goes away.”
A year ago, Mr Miliband scuppered US-UK plans for strikes against the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria after it used chemical weapons on its own people. Labour’s opposition led to a humiliating Commons defeat for Mr Cameron.
In the article, Mr Miliband keeps open the option of backing strikes against Isis, while joining Mr Cameron in ruling out British “boots on the ground”. Allies said last night that he favours “active multilateralism”, is not an isolationist, and that last year’s approach on Syria was “a decision, not a doctrine”.
Mr Cameron will be wary about any hint that Labour might support UK involvement, which would require the support of MPs. He expected Labour to support him in last year’s Syria vote, and was furious when Mr Miliband decided to vote against, ensuring the Government lost by 285 votes to 272. Mr Miliband feels vindicated since Russia’s intervention then ensured the destruction of most of Mr Assad’s chemical arsenal.
Mr Miliband writes: “This multilateral strategy should have a number of objectives: to tackle the root causes of support for [Isis] from within Iraq; to starve them of backing from outside; to bring regional powers together for a lasting political settlement and greater stability; and to provide humanitarian help to those facing the horrific consequences of this conflict.”
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