I was shocked and appalled when I heard Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s intervention over planned pro-Palestine protests on Armistice Day. They were the latest in a string of outrages surrounding the Home Secretary, whose mission is to beat the drum for Britain’s rising far-right militants. On Saturday, for example, Ms Braverman told Sky News that anyone who vandalises the Cenotaph “must be jailed faster than their feet can touch the ground”.
It is a shocking state of affairs when the government minister with responsibility for law enforcement can brazenly call for the law to be enforced. What’s next? Will the Minister of State for Housing and Planning get some houses built? God forbid.
I was not alone in this view, this feeling of horror. Sensible and moderate people in British politics, those happy few, were on hand to call out the dangerous rhetoric. Conservative peer Baroness Warsi condemned the Home Secretary for “emboldening the far-right”, accusing her of being divisive and dangerous — posing as patriotic yet being an arsonist, pitting communities against one another and setting the country alight. So true. Warsi correctly intimated that our boys who gave their lives in two world wars did so in the name of our fundamental right to disrespect their sacrifice.
What heights Britain could have reached, if not for the tyranny of Cruella Braverman
Herald of commonsense, broadcaster James O’Brien joined Warsi above the parapet to put Suella in her place. Speaking on his LBC radio show he told listeners the Home Secretary’s job is to “preserve the peace, to promote harmony” before noting that there had been no unrest until her intervention. He continued: “With the help of the very-right wing media, in this case obviously the Daily Mail, she has created in the minds of violent far-right thugs, the bogus belief that people going on a peace march on Saturday, somehow hold the Cenotaph, or Remembrance Sunday, or Armistice Day, in contempt.”
As ever, I take James “The Oracle” O’Brien’s word that those pro-Palestinian marchers are peace-loving and respectful — and that their opponents are nothing but thugs. Who could doubt that if not for Mrs Braverman’s comment, there would be complete harmony between the lion and the lamb, and the anti-Israel activist shouting for intifada and the Englishman trying to mark Armistice Day.
The thing that really irks me though, which is particularly pernicious about Suella’s brand of far-right extremism, is its ability to appear moderate, reasonable, even. We have for years imagined the “far-right” as something like white supremacy, the desire to enslave and rule over other races, perhaps even kill them. Yet, Suella, a second-generation Indian, can evade being labelled a “white supremacist” by being Indian. It is almost a little too convenient. Being a cunning character, she is also married to a Jewish man and declares her support for Israel in the staunchest of terms, preemptively beating the charge of antisemitism. A cunning plot!
Suella’s tenure as Home Secretary is a stark departure from the moderate right-wing politics of the Cameron years, over which she casts a gruesome shadow. That era of sensible politics, when the government pursued sensible conservative policies, like starving disabled people to death or destroying random African countries, is over. These were the heady years when even James O’Brien voted Tory, and when Warsi welcomed the election of Hamas to government in Gaza. What heights Britain could have reached, if not for the tyranny of Cruella Braverman.
The good times might be a thing of the past, but some still carry the flame of hope into the future. Take Sir Nicholas Soames, grandson of Sir Winston Churchill. His prodigious career has seen him mention that he is the grandson of Sir Winston Churchill literally hundreds of times, whilst dodging inheritance tax by claiming relief on a “three-tier mahogany buffet with partially reeded slender balustrade upright supports”. He told LBC of his support for Saturday’s Palestine rally:
A lot of people died during the war to assert freedom … I think it must be allowed to go ahead. It is nowhere near the Cenotaph. It is in the afternoon, and most of those people, 90 per cent of those people are not there to make trouble, they are there to express a deeply held view. I think it must be allowed to go ahead and I think it would be a great mistake to play politics with it.
This week, at least, Winston Churchill and his relations are not racist imperialists, but the echo of 20th century anti-fascism. They might be evil again by Sunday, but for now they are the voice of the war dead. One almost hears hundreds of thousands of voices calling through history as one: “Cool it with the toxic language.”
As if all this were not enough, Braverman has now written an article for The Times, which argues that the police are not even-handed in addressing protests. The very idea! Mrs Braverman, you can call the police racist, violent, trigger-happy et cetera, but how dare you doubt their even-handedness? Conservatives are calling for Braverman to be fired for breaching ministerial code. Ministerial code! This offence should at least put everything else into perspective. Call off the parades and protests, lads. Something far more important is at stake.
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