Yesterday’s ugly scenes show why the Conservatives must be beaten

I so wish that the focus of yesterday’s marches had been on comforting all those affected by the horrific events in Israel and Gaza and calling for more international effort to find a lasting peace in that region. It’s really important that a relatively small number of ultra right wingers don’t detract from that.

However, the right wing thuggery can’t be ignored, especially as they were emboldened by Suella Braverman’s comments this week.

Those right wing extremists don’t reflect our country. They may think they have the blessing of the Home Secretary but most British people find them utterly repulsive. If Sunak can’t fire Braverman for inciting them because he’s too scared of the right wing extremists in his own party, I despair.

And if he can’t fire her before Wednesday’s Supreme Court judgement on Rwanda flights could give her an excuse to resign in high dudgeon, then he really needs to have a word with himself.

The consequences of such divisive tactics on our society are there to see and I don’t think the majority of reasonable people in the country will want to see more of that on our streets.

The suffering of our fellow human beings in Gaza prompted hundreds of thousands of people to take to the streets of London, overwhelmingly in peace and solidarity. I have been on such marches before. It does worry me though, that people continue to chant things that people will read as anti-semitic or to appear to display support for an organisation who murdered, kidnapped and tortured. Why do that? I’ve always thought that if a marginalised group tells you that the use of a particular phrase is a specific attack on them, you need to find a more inclusive way to make your point and this is no different.

Words really matter. Most people on these marches just want to see peace and an end to human suffering. These events always attract a few people who have more extreme views than that and expressions of hate need to be dealt with, wherever they come from.

Lib Dem Home Affairs spokesperson Alistair Carmichael spoke of the importance of minding our language.

The horrific cases of antisemitism and support for terrorist organisations that we have seen on the streets of London today need to be totally condemned. It has no place in our society.

Likewise, the violence of the far-right mob earlier and their disrespect of Armistice Day must be utterly condemned. These people are a disgrace towards everything that they claim to represent.

The police need to be commended for their professional and brave work in dealing with these most challenging of circumstances. We should all extend them our gratitude for keeping us safe.

Those who have participated in this hate and disorder should feel the full force of the law.

Many communities are rightfully anxious and fearful right now. We should all be mindful of our words and actions so that we do not stoke further divisions and tensions.

The events of today should give everyone in public life pause for reflection. They demonstrate that the words we use can have consequences that go well beyond mere words. Political rhetoric that emboldens mobs such as we have seen today should have no place in our politics.”

Layla Moran made the point that it’s not just Suella Braverman who is responsible.

As the police in central London work to contain the far-right, and everyone starts to blame Suella Braverman, just remember who chose to not only give her the job but also chose not to sack her.

Rishi Sunak is as, if not more, responsible for what happens today.

Eastleigh PPC Liz Jarvis said:

Disgraceful scenes at the Cenotaph, the direct consequence of Suella Braverman’s divisive and hate-fuelled rhetoric. She must resign.

I strongly suspect that this weekend’s events will have turned people off the Conservative Party for life. Divisive rhetoric and culture wars lead to an unhappy, tense country. A responsible Government would always take great care not to exploit those kind of tensions. Unfortunately, we have a disgraceful Government that sees their culture wars as an integral part of their campaign and ethos. The sooner they are out of office the better.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • Come the GE the vast majority of voters won’t have the Palastinian conflict on thier minds – or for that matter be greatly concerned about the integrity of Ukraine’s borders, It will be the usual domestic issues that dominates. Sadly having reached my 70s , during my adult life I’ve only ever known two democratically elected labour pm’s – I’ve learnt from bitter experience never to underestimate the English voters willingness to put an X next to a Tory candidate…

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 12th Nov '23 - 10:56am

    I don’t think it is just the Palestinian issue, Martin. It is a a long list of divisive rhetoric on all sorts of. Issues instead of solving issues that will turn some people away from them.

  • Simon McGrath 12th Nov '23 - 11:22am

    ” It does worry me though, that people continue to chant things that people will read as anti-semitic or to appear to display support for an organisation who murdered, kidnapped and tortured. Why do that?”

    I fear you are being far too nice Caron. The reason they chant anti semitic slogans and appear to display support for Hamas is that they are anti semitic and do support Hamas.

  • Jenny Barnes 12th Nov '23 - 11:48am

    I strongly doubt that the majority of the demonstrators -300 – 800 thousand plus depending whose estimates you believe – are anything more than seriously upset at the violence, destruction and death being wreaked on the trapped citizens of Gaza. I’m sure a few “are anti semitic and do support Hamas.” but very much a minority.

    How much longer can Sunak continue with the near fascist behaviour of this government, one wonders.

  • I think Jenny is right. The violent extremists , whether Islamist or right-wing, are very much a fringe minority. The marches are an important demonstration of British public opinion on the violence, destruction and death being wreaked on the trapped citizens of Gaza.
    The violence and oppression that has dogged Israeli and Palestinian relations makes neither society capable of constructing an acceptable political solution without the aid of the International community.
    Some commentators have suggested that the Hamas attack of 7th October was designed to scupper pending normalisation of relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia as part of the Abraham accords. If that was the case it might be that the best help that British diplomats can offer is encouraging and facilitating a resumption of talks focused around the Arab Peace plan.
    In 2020 the former Saudi intelligence chief said “There is something that successive Palestinian leadership historically share in common: they always bet on the losing side, and that comes at a price.”Saudi ex-intel chief slams Palestinian’s criticism of UAE-Israel deal
    If the Arab peace plan and normalisation of relations between Israel and Arab states can be delivered then some good might be salvaged from all the death and destruction we have witnessed over the past weeks.

  • Caron. Do not fall for the complete innocence of all the pro Palestine marchers. Swastikas, hanging man and other antiSemitic symbols have been left as graffiti.

  • Brian Evans 13th Nov '23 - 8:41am

    FWIW – I watched the video of Saturday morning’s Armistice parade on WFA’s YouTube channel on Saturday evening and there were no signs of any disturbance. I conclude that the “distasteful scenes at the cenotaph” referred to took place later in the day … indicating the wisdom of the Met in allowing the march to go ahead, since there would be no disturbance to the marking of Armistice Day.

  • The events of last Saturday are a mystery to me. What did the people fighting with the police think they were doing? It certainly caused problems for the government, but I cannot fathom what they thought they were doing.
    As far as the march was concerned I feel that many of the comments show a disturbing world view that believes that we always have to choose sides. The question we need to address is what we, in this country, should actually do about it. How can we contribute to peace in the world?
    I am not sure if Cameron as Foreign Secretary will help or hinder any move towards peace. However we need to be able to have positive ideas.

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