The Gulf — [Mr David Nuttall in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 9:30 am on 4th May 2016.

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Photo of Charlotte Leslie Charlotte Leslie Conservative, Bristol North West 9:30 am, 4th May 2016

Absolutely. That is a case for identifying illustrations of symptoms and their causes. Employment is crucial, because if someone is not employed, part of their identity—certainly their work community—and purpose is taken away. It is a manifestation of those things, but to understand what we are tackling we must understand the root underlying dynamics, of which my hon. Friend made the excellent point that unemployment, joblessness and poverty are a necessary part to understand, but not sufficient on their own.

The second reality Hedayah offered up was the prosaic observation that while tackling root ideology has a place, simply telling people strongly that their actions are wrong and that they should not do them is pretty useless—I will insert a quote from the “Life of Brian”: “Don’t do it again!”—and we cannot be surprised when that does not work. In a political world in which we can seldom find any initial response to atrocities such as those in Brussels and Paris other than to tell the perpetrators that we condemn them strongly, that rather unsurprising fact should be sobering.

Hedayah points out that for an individual to choose an alternative path, the alternative must match not only Daesh’s offer of identity, community and purpose, but the practical reality of security and welfare. If Daesh promises security to a frightened man who wants to feed his children, a viable alternative needs to be more than a moral lecture. The insights from the Gulf help clarify what our response should be and what our challenge is in forging that alternative to Daesh: a value system, identity, community and purpose that competes on providing welfare and a sense of risk and achievement. How do we build that compelling and exciting muscular moderation?

There is then perhaps an even more difficult question. Who is the forceful, charismatic leader of that muscular moderation: the daddy, the Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Zarqawi, the bin Laden or the Sayyid Qutb? Who is the hero? Where is the leader in that new subversive movement that casts Daesh as the stale establishment and their hatred as weak and infantile and promotes a rebellious and resolute compassion for those who are different from oneself—even those who do not like us—as the strong and manly thing to do?