Remembrance Day is important. It is when we remember those who have died defending our country. A large proportion did so to defend our values from fascism.
A central element of a fascist state is state control of the police. There, the government directs the police, deciding who shall be arrested and how they should be punished. By contrast, in Britain, Ministers have no power to intervene in those decisions. On behalf of the people, Parliament makes laws which lay down the principles, and the police are responsible for implementing those laws.
Yet our Home Secretary has chosen very publicly to attempt, with no authority in law, to influence police decisions. That is the action of a fascist state.
What the law says
Parliament has always upheld the right of people to protest, and there is no law which gives the Home Secretary or the government the power to ban a protest march.
The law does say that if the commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, with access to all the intelligence, believes that serious disorder will arise from a particular march, he can ask the Home Secretary for permission to ban the march. That would, inevitably cause difficulties for the police in dealing with people who will turn up in defiance of the ban.
But if the commissioner does not ask for it, she cannot authorise a ban. And in relation to this week’s march, the commissioner has considered the intelligence and judged that there is not a serious risk if the march takes place.
Most of those marching will be expressing distress at the plight of the people of the Middle East. Some will be more sympathetic to the Israeli cause, and some to the Palestinian. But all will be calling for government action to defuse the situation. As always on such occasions, there will be some with more malign motives, including racists, and perhaps some simply looking for trouble. But the route is never within a kilometre of the Remembrance commemoration, and the police have made it clear that they will enforce the law, and arrest any group which breaks away from the main march.
Politics before duty
The first job of the Home Secretary is to keep the people safe, and reduce tensions. Her latest intervention, like much of her politics, is designed to do the opposite: to provoke anger among her supporters and opponents. It is very likely to embolden counter demonstrations, which will make the job of the police more difficult, and increase the risk to protestors and the general public.
Of course, if her intervention provokes violence, she will claim vindication. That is a classic fascist tactic – provoke a fight to justify more repressive laws.
The Prime Minister says the march is “disrespectful”, because Remembrance Day is about respect for those who died defending our values. They died for precisely the values which Suella Braveman is attacking.
Her article is irresponsible, unconstitutional, and un British.