Rivers of Blood Mark II

There has been a lot of publicity this week about Tory factionalising and Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s apparent positioning for the party leadership, after the Tories’ expected 2024 GE loss of power.

However, there has been a lot of muddle in the media about which faction proposes what and why. What is really going on ? Clearly if Braverman’s far right platform is to be opposed, what exactly are we opposing ?

The start point is to remember that the jostling of Tory MPs is missing the point. The competition is between different sets of interests, which MPs attach themselves to in order to advance politically. Each set of interests has their own narrative (sincere or not) as to why the UK is seemingly in steep decline and why the Tories are currently unpopular.

There is a group of interests that broadly revolve around international finance, the City and global investment groups. They support privileges for investment banks and are unfussed about monopolies, or high state debt. Sunak vaguely might be placed here.

There is a Thatcherite free market group supported by industry and commercial interests; many being victims of monopoly and fiscal problems. Folks might put Liz Truss in this group.

There is a small military-orientated group, and a small social libertarian group which are both rather limp politically.

Braverman is closer to the expanding Neo-Conservative group, supported by think tanks in Washington DC. They are unfussed about BOTH markets and monopoly finance, sanguine about fiscal risks, and are supported by groups linked to global wars of choice, and by US/UK armaments interests. It is funded via opaque donation intermediaries (although leaks have shed light on the actual international donors).

It is thus fitting that just before Braverman’s Tory conference speech Braverman gave a more incisive speech at AEI, the arch-Neocon think tank, in Washington DC. This is the major global US think tank which was the leading promoter of the illegal 2003 Iraq war, and is famed for portraying much of the world, and nearly all the Mid East, as an ‘enemy’ of the USA.

The ‘centrist’ media in the UK allege that Braverman is likely to formally propose that the UK joins Russia in exiting the European Convention on Human Rights (which the UK co-wrote and founded), in order to deal with a supposed major, sudden, global refugee crisis. However this is misreading the ‘chain of causation’. It’s the other way round. Immigration, refugees and asylum seekers are the Braverman (and US Neocon) leash with which the UK will be led to exit the ECHR.

This is the reason why Braverman twisted the immigration data, and misinterpreted the meaning of ‘refugee’ and the 1951 UN Refugee Convention in her two Rivers-of-Blood-type speeches this last week. The primary aim has to be seen as preparing public opinion for an ECHR exit; a key part of US Neocon strategy towards the United Kingdom. In Washington DC Braverman presented a number of tin hat extremist conspiracy theories about immigrants taking over ‘The West’, much to the delight of her audience.

As experienced politicians know only too well, basing one’s whole political project on something like immigrant scare mongering, can lead to not only exaggeration of ‘the problem’, but also to a reluctance to solve ‘the problem’ … and remove one’s whole political raison d’etre.

In her speeches Braverman glossed over the central role of Brexit in inducing people to cross the Channel by boat. She also glossed over the role of the US/UK Wars of Choice in refugee flows – Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Libya and Yemen. These are wars promoted by AEI and their US think tank allies, supported by parts of the UK ‘securocracy’… and Braverman.

If Braverman becomes Tory leader, and Neo-conservative plans to shorten the life of any future Starmer government are successful, we could see an official campaign of xenophobia deployed to keep the UK government in power, sooner than you think.

 

* Paul Reynolds works with multilateral organisations as an independent adviser on international relations, economics, and senior governance.

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