On Tuesday 5th October, Quilliam held a fringe event at the Conservative party conference in partnership with the centre-right think tank Policy Exchange. The event was entitled ‘”It’s the ideology, stupid!”- Why non-violent extremism matters’ and the panellists were The Rt. Hon. Dominic Grieve, QC, MP, Attorney General; Ed Husain, Co-Director & Co-Founder of Quilliam; Baroness Falkner of Margravine, Co-Chairman of the Liberal Democrats Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee; Paul Goodman, Co-Editor of Conservative Home; and John McTernan, former Political Secretary to Tony Blair. The event was chaired by Charles Moore, Chairman of Trustees of Policy Exchange.
Dominic Grieve opened the discussion by explaining the threat posed to the body politic of the UK by those articulating an Islamist ideology. Ed Husain continued by highlighting and explaining four of the key religiously-framed strands of the political ideology of Islamism. John McTernan encouraged politicians to engage in the battle of ideas, but noted the complexities involved. Paul Goodman praised the coalition for having a softer approach to civil liberties, but called on them to probe the causes of the Islamist ideology and its influence particularly on universities campuses and in prisons. Baroness Faulkner, whilst acknowledging the need to counter the ideology, pointed out the risks inherent in such an approach.
The question and answer sessions covered a range of issues, particularly whether or not the influence of Islamist ideology and the threat of radicalisation towards Islamist-inspired terrorism were increasing or decreasing in the UK.