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Last Updated: Sunday, 4 February 2007, 22:25 GMT
Dame Pauline Neville-Jones interview transcript
On the Politics Show, Sunday 04 January 2007, Tim Donovan interviewed Dame Pauline Neville-Jones - former Chief of Joint Intelligence Committee.

Dame Pauline Neville-Jones - former Chief of Joint Intelligence Committee
I think it's very important if you start engaging in a dialogue, to continue it.
Dame Pauline Neville-Jones

TIM DONOVAN: Well, I'm joined now by Dame Pauline Neville-Jones, who is a former Chief of Joint Intelligence Committee and is also the Chair of the Conservative Policy Group.


TIM DONOVAN: As we said there in the film. Thanks for coming in. What is that balance between security and community.

DAME PAULINE NEVILLE-JONES: Well it all centres around how we run our democracy I don't believe that we can give ourselves real protection if we rely entirely on security measures because what that does in the end is to destroy the liberties that actually we're seeking to defend so what we have to have in our society is real trust, trust that you know, in our government but also between citizens, that is the thing that 's at risk at the moment and that is why, you know, the debate that we have to have and I think Michael Clarke in that film was absolutely right to say we do actually need to have a frank and robust debate.

TIM DONOVAN: But it's now a familiar path though isn't it we have these extensive terror raids or it happened in Forest Gate in East London followed predictably almost by complaints coming out of the community of the media frenzy that's encouraged them and so on and the demonization of Muslims how would you have tried to resolve that in Birmingham for instance how do you resolve it.

DAME PAULINE NEVILLE-JONES: Well we're not going to be able to resolve this one quickly and I think one has to recognize that quite a lot of the things that are on the whole happening at the moment and are being said are not terribly helpful to the debate and we've got to try and pass...

TIM DONOVAN: What do you mean, you mean some of the briefings are being described as lury briefings coming out of Whitehall about the nature of this plot. DAME PAULINE NEVILLE-JONES: I've seen those stories, it's a very difficult thing to balance to strike between saying nothing so there's wild speculation and saying something about why it is that actually this is a serious investigation I mean the police, in many respects are on a hiding to nothing on this one.

TIM DONOVAN: Well has the balance been right here.

DAME PAULINE NEVILLE-JONES: I would have said, I would have said that they do need to tell us you know, that this particular one is serious. And indeed, I mean if, if this is right and I have no doubt, no reason to suppose they're not telling us what they believe to be the thing that they're investigating. It is a...


TIM DONOVAN: If it is wrong, the damage will be...


DAME PAULINE NEVILLE-JONES: I mean, I would, I would say that if - undoubtedly that you know, if, if it is wrong, then, then you know, there are serious consequences also that flow from that and this is part of the problem isn't it. That, that when you have an investigation and it is serious, you potentially have damage to community relations. If it turns out that actually, it was a false... then...


TIM DONOVAN: Some might say...

DAME PAULINE NEVILLE-JONES: .. well we have to have a higher degree of confidence between us so that when there is an investigation of this kind, we don't immediately, you know, all of us, get in a panic about each other.

TIM DONOVAN: No, fair enough. But interesting timing of course after a very big important week for both you and the Conservatives. I mean David Cameron is going back up to Birmingham to the central Mosque, where there's been quite a lot of criticism of the effect of these raids on Monday. Now is this also to kind of try and repair some of the damage from both his comments and your report, looking at this organizations.

DAME PAULINE NEVILLE-JONES: I think it's very important if you start engaging in a dialogue, to continue it. I mean I have said you know, when my report came out, and things I - or some of the things I said were not at all welcome to the Muslim Council of Britain. And I said right, let's talk. But what you can't do is make a whole series of statements, make an analysis and then back off and say, well I'm not going to say any more. And not going to talk to you. We need to talk to each other. So David is going to do that. I said fine, I think that's good.

TIM DONOVAN: But you might be forgiven for thinking that they don't feel like talking to you much at the moment and don't you, when you have a situation like this in Birmingham, whether you have complaints about organizations like the Muslim Council for Britain or not, there are established elders, representatives in the community, who presumably, play a very important role. Now you could argue that I mean, in one fell swoop, the Conservatives have created a complete vacuum cos you wouldn't know who to talk to there. Or you would have alienated them already.

DAME PAULINE NEVILLE-JONES: I think we will have a proper dialogue with the Muslim Council of Britain. I mean we have promised each other a proper dialogue and I do think that it's very important actually that the Muslim Council of Britain, which isn't an umbrella organization, they will say we don't represent everybody, but they are quite important. It is very important they give a lead.

TIM DONOVAN: Some, in the film there saying that you know, there's no question about the perception that's being created by David Cameron and you as well. There's one group of people... Muslims, and then it's the rest of us. And you have only ? added to that.


DAME PAULINE NEVILLE-JONES: No, I absolutely don't believe that to be a true at all. Cos one of the things, one of the - a very significant part of our report is the whole question of how we identify ourselves and what we stand for as a society. And one of the really important bits of the report is to say that we do actually have to have not a British identity, to which everybody else has to conform, but we need to re-create this one, so that actually we have a core of British values, to which everybody adheres, and they're part of it and that we need to build together.

TIM DONOVAN: But do people get that fair because aren't those kind of nuances lost. Don't people actually...

DAME PAULINE NEVILLE-JONES: I don't think it's a nuance. It's absolutely central.

TIM DONOVAN: Don't they see and they see sort of references to Sharia law, and they - and the public as a whole maybe make associations that that's... working with terrorists and you start to demonize a little bit more than you've...


DAME PAULINE NEVILLE-JONES: No, it's not demonisation to set out the facts and quite apart from the terrorists, there is a group and there is a stream of, of, of propaganda you might say, but certainly ideology, which is pumped out inside the Muslim community, which says in effect, you as a Muslim want to separate yourself from this society, because actually, it's not a particularly good society and what we want as a group is a carve out, within the United Kingdom. Now that's not what need. What is more, you can't I think accept if you want a liberal, tolerant, democratic society, that people are allowed to use the freedoms of that society to undermine its values.

TIM DONOVAN: Dame Pauline Neville-Jones, thanks very much indeed for coming in.


Please note BBC Politics Show must be credited if any part of these transcripts are used.

NB:These transcripts were typed from a recording and not copied from original scripts.

Because of the possibility of mis-hearing and the difficulty, in some cases, of identifying individual speakers, the BBC cannot vouch for their accuracy.

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The Politics Show Sunday 04 February 2007 at 12.10 GMT on BBC One.
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