Lib Dems battle Policy Exchange

The Liberal Democrats are at loggerheads with centre-right think tank Policy Exchange over a Muslim conference set to take place on Sunday.

Policy Exchange, which was co-founded by shadow schools secretary Michael Goves, has been trying to link the Global Peace and Unity 2008 event with Islamic extremism.

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg has written to the think tank’s director, Neil O’Brien, calling on him to stop attacking the event.

“Your attempt to raise a boycott of this event by privately briefing against it is bizarre and underhand behaviour for a think-tank supposedly interested in open public debate,” he wrote.

According to the Lib Dems, Policy Exchange is using evidence quoted from the Society for American National Existence, a radical organisation which seeks to make the practise of Islam an offence punishable by 20 years in prison.

“The information you are disseminating is extremely narrow in focus and as a result tars with the brush of extremism the tens of thousands of Muslims who will be in attendance,” Mr Clegg continued.

“The sad truth is you play into the hands of the men you seek to discredit, driving further the alienation of the majority of Muslims who see themselves mischaracterised everywhere they turn as would-be terrorists.”

Organisers say the event is aimed at promoting dialogue between Muslims and non-Muslims.

Earlier this year, Policy Exchange found itself disowned by David Cameron after one of its reports suggested Northerners should give up on their areas and move to London.