“The woman who wants to deport refugees to Rwanda, has described homelessness as a ‘lifestyle choice’ and has repeatedly called the mass protests over Gaza ‘hate marches’ is trying to mobilise the far-right to attack the marches.”
By Lindsey German, Stop the War
The failed attempt to ban what promises to be the massive march in solidarity with Gaza this Saturday has unleashed a major crisis in British politics. The political pressure put on the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Mark Rowley, has been all too obvious from a Home Secretary whose barbaric right-wing politics are openly on display.
The woman who wants to deport refugees to Rwanda, has described homelessness as a ‘lifestyle choice’ and has repeatedly called the mass protests over Gaza ‘hate marches’ is trying to mobilise the far-right to attack the marches. Her article in today’s Times accuses the police of favouritism towards left-wing causes (which will come as news to those of us who have demonstrated over the years) and prejudice towards the right.
Her dog whistle is designed to bring fascists and far right forces onto the streets. She is pitching herself as the leader of these groups. The decaying corpse of the Tory government is incapable of dealing with her and she is acting on the assumption that following a Tory defeat in the election next year she will be in pole position, either to lead the party itself or a new right formation.
She is actively encouraging trouble on the demonstration. Every one of the marches for Gaza which have taken place in the past month have been large, peaceful and well organised events, diverse and unified in solidarity with a people under the most brutal and criminal bombardment yet from Israel.
The size of these protests and the scale on which they developed proved a huge shock to government and opposition alike. Despite only handfuls of arrests on each one, right wing commentators highlight these rather than the hundreds of thousands who have marched peacefully, including large numbers of Jewish protestors.
Politicians and press lighted on Armistice Day as their key argument to call for a ban on the march. The organisers responded that the march was never going to go near the Cenotaph, that it was never going to be on Remembrance Sunday, and that we were marching for a ceasefire which is exactly what armistice means. Despite huge pressure being put on the Met to ban the march, Rowley admitted there were no grounds for doing so.
This has sent Braverman and her allies into a spin but has also led both Labour and the Lib Dems to call for her to be sacked over her political interference in policing. They are right but there is much more at stake.
Firstly, this goes to the heart of government foreign policy. The government and opposition continue to oppose a ceasefire in Gaza – therefore they are trying to prevent a march which opposes their policy. That means secondly this has become a question of freedom of speech and the right to protest, as well as solidarity with Gaza. We cannot allow the police or politicians to prevent our protests.
Braverman is also stoking up Islamophobia – trying to insinuate that Muslims are terrorists and extremists, and inferring that this is predominantly a Muslim and far-left issue. But, as the leader of Burnley council who resigned from Labour this week argued, ‘this is not just a Muslim issue’. You don’t get this many people on the streets unless it goes deeply within British society as a whole.
When Gaza is being destroyed, we must march, and we have to demand freedom for Palestine. This is the defining issue of international politics now. The crisis inside Labour because of Keir Starmer’s refusal to call for ceasefire is growing, with one shadow cabinet member already resigning. The Tories are in disarray with Sunak too weak to sack Braverman. Support for Gaza requires solidarity on the streets and that’s why there will be hundreds of thousands marching in London this weekend.
We are determined that it will be a mass peaceful march – the largest so far over Palestine – and we are not going to be criminalised by Braverman and her hate crew.
- This article was originally published by the Stop the War Coalition on November 9th, 2023.
- Lindsey German is the Convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, you can follow her on Twitter/X here. You can follow Stop the War on Facebook, Instagram and twitter.