Suella Braverman is being demonised for holding the police to account
Imagine the outrage if the Home Secretary accused police officers of showing “contempt for the public” they are supposed to serve, going on to lay out in blistering terms the worst behaviour they had indulged in.
We don’t have to imagine it, as Theresa May gave that speech almost a decade ago with little fuss beyond senior officials harrumphing about how “bewildered” they were by her “unnecessary” rhetoric.
No one called for her to resign and life moved on. By contrast, Suella Braverman has sparked an almighty backlash for urging officers to police major protests this weekend during Remembrance Day without fear or favour.
The Home Secretary has long riled the Left with her punchy rhetoric, and they are now seizing on this furore to demand her removal.
It is obvious why Rishi Sunak has resisted these calls so far, despite the contentious editing process of her latest oped. In short, it is her job as Home Secretary to be the most hardline member of the cabinet about law and order.
Braverman clearly makes no apologies for doing so and has embraced that role wholeheartedly. So it is no surprise that she would take a dim view about the prospect of pro-Palestine protesters running rampant at a time in our national calendar which calls for quiet reflection and dignity.
But some people seem surprised by the strength of her position over this.
Sadiq Khan declared he was “astonished” by Braverman’s call for the protests to be policed “even-handedly”, which is odd given how outraged he has been in the past about the Metropolitan Police’s approach.
The Mayor of London was quick to seize on the furore around the Met’s handling of the vigil held in memory of Sarah Everard, branding the scenes of women being manhandled and detained “unacceptable”.
“It is my job to stand up on behalf of Londoners and ensure that there is effective scrutiny of the Metropolitan Police – particularly in the light of such widespread public dismay,” he later explained.
Khan was right to say so given that a key part of his job is to oversee the work of the Met. It is why he has meddled in policing matters on numerous occasions, from ordering officers to allow an Extinction Rebellion protest, to ordering them to prosecute more drivers.
It is also why he was able to force out Cressida Dick as Met Commissioner. The Mayor made the most of this decision to posture, declaring he was not satisified with her plans to “root out the racism, sexism, homophobia, bullying, discrimination and misogyny that still exists” in the force.
Khan pointedly praised her successor, Sir Mark Rowley, as someone who would not be “lethargic, defensive and arrogant”. But now Sir Mark is under pressure, Khan is becoming awfully defensive.
The Mayor could honour his role as the Met’s chief scrutineer and seek to repair his weak record of law and order by reminding the police that they will be held “accountable” for how the protests are policed.
This is what Rishi Sunak did and is at the core of what Braverman is doing.
Instead, he is positioning himself as their chief attack dog, hounding the Home Secretary for suggesting the police risks being too soft on these protests.
We have seen consistently raucous scenes each week due to these protests, ranging from elderly poppy sellers being attacked to fireworks set off at officers.
Many people come out in sincerely-held support for Palestine, but others routinely come along to indulge in rabid anti-Semitism judging by the cries heard like “Jihad” and “God’s curse be upon the Jews”.
If similar – or worse – activity takes place this weekend, the blame will lie squarely with the Met for failing to contain it.
The stakes are especially high given the protests have been engineered to coincide with one of the most solemn days of the year.
Lefties are already seeking to scapegoat Braverman for any violence that breaks out. But they desperately gloss over the role of militant Israel-hating activists in stirring up tensions.
Braverman’s warning shot at the Met is the culmination of days of disagreement about how best to handle the next round of protests. After this weekend, either the Commissioner or the Home Secretary will be left vindicated.
If Sir Mark prevails, Braverman will be accused of having been melodramatic and mocked for doubting the police’s professionalism. The best defence she could say then is that her stern position had helped inspire officers to be steely.
However, if Braverman is proven right, she will not want to gloat – even if she has been demonised for how uncompromising she has been about the protests.
It will be clear enough who was most serious about keeping the peace on our streets when it was needed most.
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