So, after the hysteria whipped up by (now former) Home Secretary Suella Braverman and others that the pro-Palestine march on Saturday would disrespect the nation’s annual commemoration of its war dead, it was those mobilised by her inflammatory rhetoric that defiled the occasion – and how!
Braverman deliberately provoked a far-right mobilisation on Saturday by firstly accusing the organisers of the pro-Palestine march of disrespecting remembrance weekend, and then accusing the police of handling such marches with kid gloves while taking the gloves off in dealing with right wing demonstrations and football gangs. That was the cue for Tommy Robinson to send out a call to his thuggish, ex-EDL, Football Lads Alliance mates to turn out and “protect our monuments”, in this case the Cenotaph, from those threatening it. After all, they were only echoing the sentiments of the Home Secretary. If the police were not going to do the job, someone else had to.
Robinson knew it would kick off and went to great lengths to get his excuses in early by broadcasting appeals on social media for his followers to behave properly and with dignity.
Fat chance. He knew full well the sort of people he was calling out: violent, coked-up racists who would be spoiling for a fight. And that’s exactly what happened: first with the police when the mob stormed police lines in Whitehall to get to the Cenotaph and then, later in the afternoon, when many of them went looking for confrontation with pro-Palestine marchers.
Having charged their way to the Cenotaph they made their shameful presence known during the ceremony of remembrance being conducted there by the Western Front Association, chanting ‘Ingerland, Ingerland…’ as soon as the two minutes silence ended, then singing Robinson’s name during the prayers.
There were some 150 arrests during the day, the vast majority being from Robinson’s mob, some of whom were found carrying weapons and class A drugs. A large contingent was kettled and detained in Tachbrook St, in Victoria, for trying to ambush the Palestine march. At least 90 of those arrested across the day were from the far right contingent. Met Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist said that many were “already intoxicated, aggressive and clearly looking for confrontation”.
Robinson, of course, was nowhere to be seen when it kicked off: the Grand Old Duke of Talk had marched his men up to the top of the hill, then scarpered in a taxi at the first sign of trouble.
Political responsibility for the shameful events at the ceremony on Saturday, however, lies entirely with Suella Braverman who, in the aftermath, displayed not an ounce of regret or remorse for what she had unleashed, and tweeted that she deplored the violence “on both sides”.
This was dishonest, disingenuous garbage. Braverman is shamelessly positioning herself as the leading spokesperson of the Tory party’s extreme right wing in preparation for a leadership bid when, as is expected, Sunak has to stand down after the next election. She calculates that as long as she can get onto the final two shortlist in any leadership election, the grass roots will rally behind the most right-wing, reactionary candidate, and that is going to be her. Unless, of course, the plan being hatched by some on the party’s right wing to get Nigel Farage back into the fold comes to fruition.
Sunak himself took far too long to dump her, and by the time he did much damage was done. If he had any spine, he would remove the Tory whip from her and spike her chances of even being re-elected at the next election. Many liberal Tory MPs suffered exactly that fate under Boris Johnson for simply going up against him on EU membership.
She deserves no less.