A Home Secretary who swims in polluted waters

Speech by David Rosenberg at the “Braverman out. Stop the Hate. Unity not Division” protest event on Saturday 4th November 2023, organised by a coalition of groups initiated by Stand Up To Racism. Photo: Dave Gilchrist

A Home Secretary who swims in polluted waters

Greetings from the Jewish Socialists’ Group. Do you want the good news or the bad news? OK, the good news: Suella Braverman may not be the worst Home Secretary in the world! Look at the political map of Europe today: lots of countries with very harsh policies towards migrants and refugees, where the so-called “justifications” for such policies increasingly overlap with arguments from the fascist far right. Sadly, Braverman is just one among many racist and authoritarian ministers across Europe defending Fortress Europe. Many of them swim in waters polluted by the far-right “Great Replacement Theory”: the idea that Muslims with high birth rates are replacing white Christians in the West. In the more extreme far-right version they blame Jews, like George Soros, for encouraging Muslim migration.

This is not the first time we’ve been here protesting the policies of a British Home Secretary, and they haven’t all been Tories. Labour has long joined in the immoral race to the bottom on immigration policy. Even today, their critique of Tory refugee policies is not that they are wrong, but they are chaotic and inefficient.

The machinery of every immigration and refugee law that Britain has passed goes back to the Aliens Act of 1905, pushed through by Tory Prime Minister Lord Balfour, when my Jewish immigrant grandparents were coming in as children from Poland and Ukraine. It created immigration officers, who could apply a whole list of  excuses to keep people out, and gave powers of deportation which could be used retrospectively against those who had entered legally. If, like me, you will be in Trafalgar Square to stand with Palestine later this afternoon, you will know that 1905 was not Balfour’s only sin. He liked to send Jews to Palestine for Britain’s imperial ambitions. He just didn’t want them living next door to him, whether in Lothian, where he was born, or in Surrey, where he died.

So now the bad news: Suella Braverman is our Home Secretary, who we have to bring down. She has recently linked immigration and refugee policy with an overarching attack on multiculturalism. Every anti-racist must absolutely defend and enhance multiculturalism at all levels, but politically our fight goes beyond one personality. We need to bring down the whole hostile environment.

Gary Lineker was right to raise alarm about the fascistic use of language towards refugees. Since then, the Deputy Chair of the Tories has told asylum seekers to “Fuck off back to France”. The fascistic demonisation campaign against “lefty immigration lawyers” comes from the highest echelons of government. This does not mean that the government is fascist, but by deliberately blurring boundaries between mainstream and far-right ideas, they normalise fascist ideas and prepare the ground for a fascist resurgence. Every statement by Braverman boosts the far right everywhere.

Finally, we are a diasporic Jewish group – who have no wish to live in, or support, a fortress Jewish nation state. Like other diasporas our only border is the world, and we will always fight for a world where everyone has the right to cross borders when they need to and when they wish to, and we fight for a world where no one feels they have to flee for their safety, freedom and human rights!


Author: david rosenberg  |   Posted: 6 November 2023