Several years ago, when I worked in the public sector, I had the dubious honour of attending a talk by Ben Summerskill. The gist of his arguments centered on promoting equality in the workplace.
Curiously it seemed the best way to promote equality was for employees and would be employees to surrender vast amounts of data about themselves, to their employers. Job application forms, and forms for appointments to public bodies, were now to include questions asking, not just about an applicants race or gender, but their religion and sexuality.
Mine was the small voice at the back of the room arguing that the last two points at least were nobody else's business. I was deftly swatted away by Summerskill, who was amazed anyone would not want to contribute such information. Worse still, withholding it would seriously undermine the fight against discrimination in the workplace. And the good news was people like him existed to advocate for gay rights and equality.
Given all this, it was with no surprise that I read the following headline in todays Guardian, concerning the 'Prevent' strategy. "Government anti-terrorism strategy 'spies' on the innocent: data on politics, sexuality and religion gathered by government."
Instead of Ben Summerskill, Ed Husain has stepped forward to justify this. He is wrong.
There is no reason for the government to ever hold details about the sexuality of its citizens. Husain has been rather shot down within the Muslim community over the past couple of years, in large part because his book, The Islamist, says things that the ostriches leading British Muslim organisations would rather went unsaid. However correct he may have been in the past, he is damaging his reputation by supporting the government on this issue.
Whilst people like Ben Summerskill are probably beyond hope, Ed Husain may see sense. He needs to step away from Big Brother.