Fly on the wall
Downing Street ,Thursday 20 October, 8 a.m. Prime Minister’s breakfast meeting with her PPS.
PM: Patch me to Parker. Now.
PPS sets up secure line to Thames House: PM for the DG. Now.
PM: Parker, have you seen today’s Guardian?
Parker: PM, I read the Telegraph since leaving Cambridge ….
PM interrupting Parker, speaking to PPS: How dare anyone rubbish Prevent. Get me Farr.
Parker to Miss Moneypenny: Quick, get me the Guardian . . .
PM: Parker, why wasn’t I told that Prevent is going to be rubbished. Don’t you have a friend in the editor’s office? Read the headline, ‘UK Muslims to go it alone’. I don’t get this ‘MCB’. Neither did poor David.
PPS patches Marsham Street: PM for Charles Farr. Now.
PM, aloud: What’s this about MCB rubbishing Prevent? Parker, are you still there. Why was I not told yesterday?
Parker: Our tap at their dump in Whitechapel has malfunctioned. Not enough resources. Our boys were keeping tabs on their top man in Istanbul . . .
PM cuts him short, again: Parker, not good enough.
PM to Farr: He will have to resign.
Charles Farr: Alas – Yes, Prime Minister. He doesn’t know his Muslim Council of Britain from his Muslim Commercial Bank.
PM, warming: Oh Charles, you are so knowledgeable. I know you were disappointed when that John Sawers beat you to the post of ‘C’. Be assured . . . . Now, Parker, get on the case. I want a retraction from the MCB.
Parker, who now has nothing to lose: Yes, Prime Minister, but my sources tell me there is much sympathy for MCB calling for Prevent to be scrapped. In fact my man at the BBC tells me their Micky McVersy is on Today.
Charles Farr: Miqdaad Versi, actually.
PPS tunes in to Radio 4, puts it on speaker:
JH: . . . now the Muslim Council of Britain has joined this criticism [of Prevent]. What’s wrong with Prevent’.
MV: . . . it looks at Muslims as a security threat. It makes young children [to be] considered a threat for all of us in society. What we need is something which is transparent; which has confidence of communities; which engages with communities; that does not have the discriminatory practices which yesterday’s Open Society report talked about. The architect of Prevent has said that if it does not have the confidence of communities then we have a problem. That’s where we are right now. 96% of Britons believe that Prevent is not keeping us safe. That’s the real challenge that we face . . . we need Muslim communities and all communities to be working together; equal partners to tackle the scourge of terrorism that is a threat for us because we want to keep our nation safe.’
JH: . . . Aren’t you part of the problem because you should have been doing this all along.
MV: Firstly it is worth noting that there is terrorism and extremism from all communities. This should not be focussed on Muslim communities in particular. That is one of the flaws of Prevent, in the way it focuses on Muslim communities . . .
PM: Enough. I am not going to see my six years at the Home Office rubbished like this.
Charles Farr: Prime Minister, should I invite their top man for a cup of tea?
PM: Let me think about this. I need to check what CST think. After all one of the reasons we stopped talking to the MCB was because of advice. And their spat with TB disagreeing with his foreign misadventures. Parker, get your act together. You haven’t had a budget increase for nothing . . .