Recently asked if I’d met Suella Braverman, I’m sure the person asking was expecting me to compare the former Home Secretary to Cruella De Ville. But I said that I had but that she’d come across as both affable and personable which was not the answer they’d expected. It’s a view perhaps even harder for some to appreciate given some of her recent comments.
Now at my meeting with her, which was when she was Attorney General, I was accompanied by a Tory MP and the issue we were raising she was sympathetic to. So of course, the meeting was far from tense or the issue problematic for her. But that said I’ve been in meetings with other ministers even those far more sympathetic to my cause and found them harder or the individuals colder. I’ve also been stuck next to Ministers and politicians at dinners or formal events which can only be described as hard, if not excruciating.
But then I wasn’t a protestor or homeless. Her statements have been incendiary and deliberately provocative, and she had to go. Her undermining of Senior Police officers is unfitting of the office she holds. I condemn them for the fear they’ve created and the hate that’s been unleashed. I also agreed with Bob Neill, the Tory Chair of the Justice Committee that her undermining of the Police made her position untenable.
The reason I detailed my meeting with her is that she’s acting to a political play book. It’s not her character but an agenda. It’s one I loathe and makes me fear for our democracy. But she’s not some rabid beast with horns or fangs. She was calculating, knowing well what she was doing and its effect.
Working to a political template, shock factor’s all part of the script. It’s the new populist Right in the Tory Party. I don’t believe that she’s just been entirely freelancing. Sunak may have sacked her but much of what she said was with his tacit consent. She’d been given some licence but just went too far. He only objected when major blowback occurred with rioting right-wing thugs who she’d fermented.
The political playbooks from the USA, depress turnout and demonise minorities. It’s echoed by Meloni in Italy and others in Europe. They know what they’re doing, and it’s not just rabid rants.
It suited Sunak to have some cover but whilst she threw the grenades there’s more than her fingerprints on them. They knew what was being done and the political polarisation it creates, and they allowed it. Even if it wasn’t the language, they would themselves have used or some other excuse, they colluded.
Her and her ilk haven’t gone away, and they’ve left their mark. They’re entrenched and their influence remains, with many views remaining shared. Stop the boats still a mantra and whilst she was going out the door, swingeing benefit cuts being imposed.
The Tory veneer of returning to the centre, is simply a disowning of one who’s gone too far. Tone not tenor the change. Cameron’s appointment’s putting on a velvet glove, but an iron fist remains underneath. UK politics is now a choice between populist right or the centre right. Scotland needs to get out of this union, as whilst maybe personable their politics are reprehensible.