Suella Braverman’s extremism is emerging again. In a recent Times article, the now-former home security inappropriately described pro-Palestine demonstrations as “hate marches”. This intolerance continued as Braverman went on to proclaim that she “does not believe [the protests] are pro-Palestine” but rather “assertions of primacy”, comparing such marches to “the kind we are more used to seeing in Northern Ireland”. These culturally insensitive claims are not new to conservative rhetoric but feel particularly startling in the context of such a harrowing conflict, where we have seen over 11,000 brutal deaths in Gaza.
Despite Braverman’s claims being uncaring and ideologically motivated, they are also false. Take the Edinburgh Waverley Station protest on Saturday 4th: local councillor Alys Mumford described the event as “spontaneous” and “peaceful”, accompanied by no evidence of violence. One could hear chants of “free Palestine” and “ceasefire now”, which, along with “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” do not designate the “hate” or support of Hamas that Braverman discusses. These protests should be understood as an emancipatory approach, one which opposes oppression caused by occupation. How can it be hateful to support liberation and concord?
The claims of Braverman’s article are a reactionary response to Met Police commissioner Sir Mark Rowley’s statement that he does not possess grounds to prevent a pro-Palestine march due to occur on Armistice Day. Thus, Braverman here embodies the anti-democratic strategy that has recently become so enshrined in Conservative party philosophy – primarily following Rishi’s Public Order Act 2023, broadening the definition of “serious disruption” to enable harsh policing of protests, something which should be considered an intrinsic right within a society of free speech. In this sense, the home secretary’s claims must not be taken lightly, and should instead be scrutinised as a reflection of the Conservative Party’s constraint on minority voices.
Opposing the Tory approach, Humza Yousaf, the first minister of Scotland, takes a liberatory stance, arguing that the Palestine Armistice Day protests should “absolutely go ahead”. Even more so, he called for a worldwide refugee programme for Gaza residents during this year’s SNP conference and offered up Scottish hospitals for injured Palestinians, emphasising the UK’s moral duty to provide vital support. Finally, he overtly claimed that Braverman was no longer fit for office, despite Sunak maintaining that he has “full confidence” in her at the time.
Unlike Yousaf, the behaviour of the Tories in recent weeks has been that of apathy. While 1.5 million individuals remain displaced in Gaza, Braverman inhumanely describes immigration as a “hurricane” threat, contrasting the welcome given to Ukrainian refugees by the party in 2022. This hypocrisy and the words of Braverman are representative of disgraceful Tory polarisation tactics as they clutch at straws to remain publicly favourable.
The issue is not whether or not the police are successfully controlling protests, the issue is a deeper history of war and occupation. Under no circumstances should that be used to uphold a political narrative.