SUELLA BRAVERMAN is the most dangerous politician in Britain today. There are other contenders, and not all on the Tory benches, but every pronouncement from the Home Secretary ensures her pole position.
Her latest article in the Times sets out her stall quite clearly with its attack on the right to protest. She has been agitating all week for Saturday’s demonstration for a ceasefire in Gaza to be banned and is frustrated that she will have been thwarted — above all by the resilience of the organisers in their determination not to have their rights obstructed.
This latest sally follows blatantly racist interventions against refugees, an endeavour to ban charities from giving tents to homeless people since the latter are merely indulging a “lifestyle choice,” and calling anti-war and pro-Palestine protests “hate marches.”
Some see in all this merely a right-wing politician posturing for the next Tory leadership. Doubtless, there is a large element of that. Braverman can read the polls as well as anyone and can assume that Rishi Sunak’s job will be up for grabs before long.
She will then be competing for the votes of a Tory membership that usually supports the most right-wing candidate available, as the country learned most recently when they gave the keys to Downing Street to the slightly demented Liz Truss.
But there is much more to Braverman than mere politicking. Her Times article is a call to arms for a far-right coalition against democracy. It is a colour-by-numbers guide to how such a force could be assembled.
Football Lads Alliance? Tick. Covid sceptics? Tick. Retired and dissident serving police officers? Tick. Hostile to Black Lives Matter? Tick. Islamophobe? Tick.
It is a cacophony of dog whistles, enough to assemble a ravening pack.
In her rhetoric, the Home Secretary comes close to inciting violence, and clearly, she will not be displeased if there is such violence at the weekend.
For her, it is about driving progressive opinion off the streets. As a start, she wants to subordinate the police to her own close control.
It is therefore not hyperbole to see in Braverman’s words and actions the first steps towards a far-right regime, the initial explorations towards establishing authoritarian rule through mobilising and cohering a mass base for such a development.
Such a move would no more than parallel similar trends elsewhere, as bourgeois democracy becomes unhinged after a generation of war and slump. Britain has no magic inoculation against a regime of the populist-authoritarian type.
And if anything akin to fascism were ever to advance in Britain it would not be the work of noxious organisations like the British National Party or the English Defence League, whose poisonous antics play no more than an ancillary role.
It would be the work of powerful forces entrenched in the Tory Party, people like the Home Secretary. Will Labour’s front bench stand firm? So far it has focused solely on championing the operational independence of the police as if that was the answer to the authoritarian menace.
The police are an arm of the state committed to upholding the social order. Their independence is a polite fiction which will not be entertained by anyone with memories of mass industrial disputes.
It is that arm of the state most closely entwined with wider society, and its freedom from day-to-day direction by politicians is the freedom to navigate unimpeded the challenges that role throws up, including policing protest.
The main demand must be for Braverman to be sacked immediately — not in the name of proper policing, but in the name of democracy.
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