A controversial Islamic group, Islam4UK, reportedly said it would abandon its abhorrent plan to demonstrate in Wootton Bassett if Prime Minister Gordon Brown or his ministers agree to debate the war on Afghanistan with them. How disgraceful it has come to this. The need for our political leaders to thoughtfully and fearlessly debate UK policy on Afghanistan has been apparent for some time, but it’s taken a shameless publicity stunt by a group which seeks to subvert the very values which make this country great to focus attention on the issue.
If it were up to me, Islam4UK would be outlawed and all its non-British born members deported to their countries of origin. It should not be given a platform, let alone share one with the Prime Minister. There is a real risk however that the group’s attempt to hold the government to ransom could end up stifling a long overdue debate by tarring everyone against the war with the same brush.
As this blog has often demonstrated you can be against the war yet still support our troops and honour our fallen heroes. To prevent the likes of Islam4UK from hijacking the debate, British politicians must discuss our Afghan policies boldly, candidly and without concern for poll ratings.
Remaining in Afghanistan has not been a light decision for government but politically speaking, it’s easier to maintain the status quo than to admit the war can’t be won and withdraw. Such a policy would invite severe criticism, not only from domestic opponents but from the United States as well. Perhaps it explains why the three major British political parties’ Afghan policies all seem to be cut from the same cloth. It would take a political leader with foresight, integrity and nerves of steel to bring our troops home from Afghanistan sooner rather than later. I hope one emerges in time for the general election.