Academic Tallha Abdulrazaq says Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s vicious targeting of refugees, Muslims and Pakistanis means that describing her as “evil” could just be an understatement.
For someone who was named after a character in the hit American TV show Dallas, Suella Braverman has a lot more in common with the villainess of the 101 Dalmatians, Cruella de Vil.
She is almost a complete caricature of what one would expect of a character so beside themselves with evil intent that there is close to nothing redeemable about their personality.
One has to quite literally pinch themselves to realise that, yes, really, what we are seeing and hearing is precisely what Suella is really like and she isn’t simply just putting on a show.
The Tories have effectively held sway over British politics since Tony Blair lied the Labour party’s political ambitions into oblivion through the Iraq war and other calamities.
But they face the stiffest challenge yet to their rule in the upcoming general election due to be held sometime between now and January 2025.
And with incompetent and malevolent characters like Braverman on his team, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak risks showing that his party truly is the “nasty party” and needs to be put out to pasture before she harms the party irrevocably.
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Under Boris Johnson, the Tories achieved a landslide electoral victory in 2019 that has buoyed the party into thinking that they can continue to be boorish and behave like government is their right rather than a duty entrusted to them by the electorate.
Since Johnson led the party to parliamentary domination, the Tories have been beset by allegations of sexual impropriety and almost unbelievable levels of corruption, with “friends” of ministers getting favourable contracts during the coronavirus pandemic, costing the British taxpayer potentially £3.7 billion.
In this rogue’s gallery of the morally bankrupt, Braverman fits right in. Braverman has a history of cruelty, heartlessness and dishonesty, and is not someone anyone with any political sense would be wanting to give the public much face time with.
And yet Sunak has seen fit to keep her in the front row of Conservative politics, likely believing that her hardline views would help to whip up racist voters come polling day by ensuring, once again, that Muslims are painted as the enemy.
Earlier this month, Braverman fell back on a favourite past-time of Tory politicians, and that is to punch down on Muslim minorities whenever they feel they need more support. Much of her hateful ire was reserved for British-Pakistanis, defaming and smearing the demographic as being behind “almost all” child sexual exploitation and allowing the spectre of “Pakistani grooming gangs” to rear its head once more by claiming their victims were “overwhelmingly white girls.”
As Home Secretary, Braverman knows this is categorically untrue. A Home Office study published in December 2020 made upsetting findings for those like Braverman who try to mainstream far-right talking points, and that was that the vast majority of paedophiles and groomers were, in fact, white. The study went further to show that victims included boys and came from a plethora of backgrounds, and that there was no specific evidence that showed there was any ethnic disproportion in offender backgrounds at all.
One would have thought that Braverman, herself of Indian origin, would be more sensitive toward the need to not delve into overt racism and to throw fellow brown communities under the white supremacist bus.
Yet, while Braverman is perfectly happy to smear Muslims generally and Pakistanis specifically, she is oddly quiet about her own Buddhist sect, Triratna, that has been mired in sexual abuse scandals that go back decades. Its founder and spiritual leader, Dennis Lingwood, who Braverman is obliged to follow and believe in as a member of the cult, was known to sexually exploit young and vulnerable men who sought him out seeking spirituality but instead found themselves ensnared by a sexual predator.
Those in glass temples probably ought not to cast stones at mosques, and Braverman may want to investigate her own congregation before coming after others.
A big mouth for a small mind
But, let’s not kid ourselves, the average Tory politician (with notable exceptions) is not going to particularly care if Braverman attacks British-Pakistanis and Muslims writ large.
The party has been doing this for quite some time, with Boris Johnson writing racist columns about Muslim women wearing niqab resembling “bank robbers” and “letterboxes.” He did not apologise for what he said and retract it, but rather he apologised “for any offence I may have caused” – a mealy-mouthed way of saying he’s actually not sorry at all.
What Tories may be concerned about, however, is how gaffe prone this woman truly is. Seeking to embellish her legal credentials, Braverman was seemingly caught in a lie after a claim that she had contributed to a legal textbook written by an eminent barrister, when in fact the author said that all she ever did was do some photocopying for him.
In other words, she did less than what would be expected of a paralegal, yet made herself out to be like a contributing jurist.
Her flights of fancy take an even more bizarre turn when she delves into hyperbole to describe refugees fleeing persecution and violence as an “invasion,” before refusing to apologise to a Holocaust survivor who said that Braverman’s rhetoric was reminiscent of Nazi Germany.
Worse yet, and while everyone else has dreams of achieving lofty ambitions, perhaps curing cancer or doing something else of benefit to humanity, Braverman wants to deport refugees to Rwanda so badly that she went on the public record to tell a group of fellow Tories: “I would love to have a front page of the Telegraph with a plane taking off to Rwanda. That’s my dream, it’s my obsession.”
For a minister who was already forced to resign once for breaching the ministerial code, one would think she would instead dream of being a woman of integrity, humanity and decency. Alas, we will have to make do with her simply being a caricature of cruelty as Home Secretary – at least until the next general election, or until another gaffe sends her packing.
Tallha Abdulrazaq is a British-Iraqi academic, holding a PhD in Strategy and Security from the University of Exeter. He has also worked as a consultant and analyst for a number of private businesses, and is a frequent contributor for both international print and broadcast media outlets on Middle Eastern politics and security issues.