THIS was a weekend replete with contradictions. Home Secretary Suella Braverman reprised her new role as stormtrooper-in-chief with a renewed rhetoric that predictably mobilised a riotous assembly of fascists.
The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police — acting on his own intelligence which, in this instance, replicated that of our comrades professionally engaged in monitoring the fascists — successfully protected public order and allowed the huge Palestine solidarity march to proceed without provocation.
Rishi Sunak, the principal target of Braverman’s posturing, tried to establish a narrative to suggest that the Gaza ceasefire demonstration and the openly anticipated fascist fracas were equally likely to become violent.
Instead, an exceptionally well-organised 800,000 demonstrators, calling for an armistice in Gaza, proceeded peacefully while the fascist squads — whose aim was to both hijack the Cenotaph ceremony and attack the Palestine demonstration — were compelled instead to pick a fight with the police.
This meant the collapse of Sunak's narrative, while the only way that Braverman could rescue her nonsensical notion that the police favour the left was for the ceasefire in Gaza march to allow itself to be provoked.
Passionate it certainly was, but, without a hint of unjustified anger and with a remarkable discipline that owes much to its mature and battle-hardened coalition leaders, it remained unprovoked.
As it is, the Home Secretary, nominally responsible to Parliament for public order, is now left unable to reconcile her farcical reading of the situation with the transparent truth that her newly acquired fascist entourage was the source of the only hate and violence menacing the Cenotaph this weekend.
The world can see, in the words of the teachers’ leader Danial Kebede, that the fascists are Braverman’s “bovver boys.”
If the Prime Minister fails to sack her, his political authority is further eroded.
Armistice Day itself is laden with contradictions. Inaugurated to remember the dead of the great war of 1914-18 by a nation horrified by the senseless slaughter, its renewed significance for the British people and our allies in the mid-century war against fascism has placed it at the centre of our national consciousness.
At the same time, the imperial British state has sought to imbue the annual event with a sense that we remember both the dead and the veterans of all wars in which our servicemen and women have died without understanding that some died in defending our country from invasion, others in fighting fascism, but many in wars of colonial oppression and imperialist plunder.
The nation, and especially the working class, mourns its dead — but those moved by the double tragedy of workers who die in imperial wars will most clearly see that when fascists are mobilised by a minister of state any residual moral authority is stripped from the government.
In their different ways, both Sunak and Braverman ran interference in the movement for a ceasefire in Gaza. The balance of forces is visibly changing and the ground on which they and Starmer place their opposition to a ceasefire is diminishing.
The government, and the Home Secretary in particular, did all they could to divert the movement but failed because of the size and strength of the movement. But also because dealing with a divided and dysfunctional government, the Metropolitan Police command kept its nerve and retained a sense that the real interests of the state lay in keeping the politics of the moment within the bounds of convention.
Our growing mass movement is challenging the complicity of government and opposition with the war on the Palestinians but, in this instance, the state has retained an element of operational independence from government.
That should not blind us to the danger posed by a Tory right that, from ministerial office, incited fascist violence on our streets for political advantage.
Our movement must make clear that we see their game and will organise to defeat it.
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