The Independent reported yesterday that Education Secretary Michael Gove 'has been accused of cynically using the “Trojan Horse” schools row to push an ideological anti-Islamic agenda within the Government.'
Gove has been pushing a similar agenda for the best part of a decade. In 2006 he published Celsius 7/7, which argued that 'the war against the West… …follows the pattern of the Cold War against Communism' (Phoenix 2007, p.127). The same argument was being pursued at the time by Policy Exchange, of which Gove was the first chairman, and the Centre for Social Cohesion, something which Spinwatch examined in our report The Cold War on British Muslims.
In my view, this approach reflects the roots of neoconservatism in Western Cold War propaganda networks. This was often a response to Soviet propaganda in the same style devised by ex-communists and defectors in the course of passing from fanatical Stalinism to fanatical anti-communism while keeping their contempt for centrist liberalism intact.
In 2011, Paul Goodman of Conhome reported that the Conservative front-bench had broken with one of the more extreme advocates of the Cold War approach, Douglas Murray, who had notoriously argued some years earlier that 'conditions for Muslims in Europe must be made harder across the board.'
However, Gove still appears on the Charities Commission website alongside Murray as co-trustee of a charity, albeit an apparently inactive one. The listing for this entity, the European Freedom Fund, shows that it was formed in 2007, ostensibly for the promotion of human rights. Alongside Gove and Murray, the trustees formerly included another individual called Roy Brown.
I am indebted to Ben White for information which shows that the European Freedom Fund shares a Stamford address with Conservative councillor G.M. Gibbs. Gibbs' Register of interests shows that her partner has an interest in the New College of the Humanities. The other interests mentioned would appear to confirm that this is the college's CEO, Jeremy Gibbs.
Roy Brown is another board member at the New College of the Humanities. He is also 'the immediate past-president of the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) and for the past six years has been head of the IHEU delegation at the UN in Geneva.' While many of the issues Brown has raised at the UN are important ones in themselves, the nature of his alliances there raises profound questions about the framework within which he is pursuing them.
David Littman claims to have worked closely with Brown at the UN from 2004, and Brown defended Littman in a 2008 article for the National Secular Society. The piece failed to mention that Littman and his wife Bat Ye'or are major proponents of the Eurabia conspiracy theory, which claims that western elites are complicit in an imminent Islamist takeover of Europe.
Brown has also contributed a chapter to Robert Spencer's book The Myth of Islamic Tolerance, which featured extensive contributions from Littman and Bat Ye'or. Spencer has been described by the Center for American Progress as a leading Islamophobic disinformation expert.
The Eurabia thesis promoted by writers from the so-called counterjihad movement was a major influence on the Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik. That does not of course mean that they condone his actions, or that their freedom of speech should be restricted as a result.
However, the logic of Gove's flawed conveyor belt theory of radicalism is that the state should target non-violent extremists whose views are said to prepare the ground for violent extremists. That sounds very like the kind of people the Education Secretary has been consorting with himself.