Liberal Democrats reveal the great fissure in liberalism

Someone once said (it may have been me) that while the left looks for traitors the right looks for converts. Only in Britain’s centre ground, however, are converts treated as traitors.

Maajid Nawaz is one of the most interesting public figures I know. As a young man growing up on the Essex coast, he received an education in both varieties of modern far-right thinking: the racist and the religious. Racist gangs and Combat 18 were active in his area. He reacted against them, as any boy of spirit would. But his reaction took the form of joining Hizb-ut-Tahrir.

Hizb was the marijuana or soft porn of radical Islam in the 1990s. It gave recruits a hint of the hardcore: the need to restore the caliphate, the hatred of the West, the necessity of jihad and the enmity against women’s rights, Jews, homosexuals and anyone else, including other Muslims, who did not believe in theocratic tyranny. But Hizb did not commit acts of violence in Britain or tell its recruits in plain language to turn to terrorism abroad. Rather it excused violence, as so many do today.