Why are home secretaries so obsessed with political correctness?
Suella Braverman is the latest minister to make a familiar criticism of the police
We have reached the point in the life cycle of this government where tough talk on just about any issue is almost entirely undercut by the simple fact that the Conservatives have been in office, in one shape or another, for thirteen years.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s speech this morning is as clear an example as they come. Certainly, there will be plenty of voters who instinctively support the idea that police should spend less time “pandering to politically correct preoccupations” and more, you know, catching criminals. And many will agree that stop and search policies constitute “common sense policing”.
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But haven’t we heard all this before? Braverman’s talk of “back to basics” is making the same appeal as her predecessor (notwithstanding Grant Shapps’s six glorious days in post) Priti Patel, who last year called on the force to “get the basics right”. Going back further, there is the then-home secretary Amber Rudd who said in 2017 that “political and cultural sensitivities” must not get in the way of investigating child sexual abuse. But even she was taking a similar line to her predecessor in the role, Theresa May, who claimed that “institutionalised political correctness” accounted for the grooming gangs scandal.
The Tories have enjoyed single-party control of government since 2015; since 2019 they have commanded a handsome overall majority too. We are now more than halfway through the maximum possible life of this parliament — why is the Home Secretary reduced to talking like all the ministers who have come before her? And why haven’t any of them fixed the problem?
Moreover, where’s the analysis of why the police seem so often to prioritise social justice over the criminal sort? Where is Braverman’s explanation for why people can track their stolen phones and bikes to particular properties but the authorities then refuse to take further action?
Overall, the problem with the Conservatives’ rhetoric on law and order is increasingly that they seem not to have any understanding of how the systems of policing and justice actually work. The party has repeatedly railed against police officers blindly following “politically correct trends”, yet has done little to stem the flow despite being in some form of power for almost a decade and a half.
Thus we have a scramble to hit a recruitment target which has seen forces inviting back failed applicants, even as those same forces are urged to raise standards and dismiss bad actors in the wake of successive scandals. Appearing on Good Morning Britain today, Braverman was left flustered by host Susanna Reid asking her to acknowledge that “20,000 police officers were cut under the Conservative government.”
If Braverman wants the public to take her seriously about a shift in approach from the police, she first needs to demonstrate that she and the Government understand what has gone wrong, and then explain it to the nation. If she merely regurgitates the same anti-woke platitudes as those who have overseen her brief in the recent past, this home secretary will make as little difference as her predecessors.
The Tories have enjoyed single-party control of government since 2015; since 2019 they have commanded a handsome overall majority too.
2015 – win election, start referendum campaign
2016 – lose referendum, change of PM
2017 – lose majority, descent into choas
2018-2019 – held to ransom by Remainer Parliament
Dec 2019 – change PM, win election
2020-2021 – COVID
2022 – COVID and Ukraine and inflation and change PM
Oct 2022 – Change PM
>> Not really what I would call single-party control of government
Very true. And factor in the endless campaign waged by the establishment and so-called civil service to frustrate any policy not on its own agenda and you have a serviceable picture of the situation.
Strange, Brexit got done, ‘oven ready’ and all that…didn’t it. Oh don’t tell me it wasn’t.
And what do you suppose this wilfully ignorant morsel of sniping adds to the debate?
Thanks for dealing with this.
There’s no excuse for squandering the 2019 majority.
Boris could have held firm to a Swedish approach to COVID.
Boris could have stopped the boats.
Boris could have avoided violating his own COVID rules, and cracked down hard on anyone who broke them (whether MPs or civil servants),
Labour will be worse (somehow!) but we shouldn’t let the Conservatives off the hook.
Agreed. I’m not expecting Starmer to fix much in the single term Labour are likely to be allowed while the Tories respawn. But with an 80 seat majority they could have forced through fixes for pretty much anything you care to name. The trouble is they’ve been preoccupied with running an organised crime racket.
No Tory majority in the Lords, thanks to all the Lib Dem peers Cameron created. Can’t invoke the Salisbury Convention unless the policy was in the manifesto.
The 80-seat majority was a mirage. The majority of the Tory Parliamentary Party, unlike in the country at large, were and are LibDems in disguise – Nokes, Gale, Mitchell, S Hammond, Walker, Elwood … Most of them hated Boris as well.
What was a mirage is anyone thought Bojo would prove to be competent. And then to underline the the track record in great choices the clowns went for Mad Liz.
I can remember many of the usual UnHerd Commentariat crowing about how wonderful both were. It is thus not surprising excuses and scapegoats are sought.
I think most people who follow politics recognise that the Liberal Democrats in the Coalition Government performed the role of useful idiots. The defining policy of that administration was Austerity, eviscerating public services which included sacking 20,000 police officers, 27,000 support roles, closing police stations and cutting the Justice Department budget by 40%. This was driven entirely by Osborne and Cameron. We have since had a further 4 Tory Prime Ministers after Cameron ran away after the referendum.
Suella Braverman excels in performative nastiness and gesture politics but like her predecessor Priti Patel is hopeless at delivery. She is only in het job because Sunak needs her to cover his back with the knuckledraggers on the Tory Right.
To try and pretend we somehow haven’t had Tory control over the justice agenda since 2010, and that the utter failure of policy in that area isn’t therefore their responsibility, if that’s indeed the message of your post, is pretty delusional.
Uncomfortable for so many of the usual UnHerd commentariat, but so true JM
Thanks, the Echo Chamber can get a little surreal at times.
Has the author noticed what just happened to Dominic Rabb, compared to how figures like Simon Case and Andrew Bailey snd many others sail on regardless? Isolated, here today gone tomorrow ministers are no match for an embedded, ideological hostile, and apparently unsackable institutional state.
Yes indeed Liz Truss will agree with that, the money men didn’t want her and a policy that would upset their plans so she was ousted. Money and the civil service write the scripts, the ministers play the leading roll support by MPs and the public get a bit part every few years at election time to make the play look like it’s about democracy.
Groan. Used to be Labour that always felt the international Bond markets against them. Fact some on the Right now think its against them shows how far the hunt for the fictitious saboteurs has travelled.
Don’t worry, he can go back to his Paddleboard and sun tan lotion – which he focused on whilst his civil servants worked hard to scramble a response to Afghan evacuation. And Justice dept rarely had such a collapse in court system than under his tenure.
Case should be removed mind. Dreadful record and really he could have saved Bojo from his own stupidity had he helped gripped No.10 behaviour. Not impressed with Bailey, but not helped by Mad Liz and KamiKwasi was he.
The problem is that there are not enough committed real conservative MPs who actually understand what needs to be done to prevent the police and civil servants doing the easy virtue signally and safety first things they want to do. If you have legislation that enables the police to monitor hurt feelings than they will certainly prefer to do that than tangle with violent and aggressive gang members and risk accusations of racism stamping down on urban gangs and sexual predators. Tackling real crime is hard complicated and difficult in comparison to checking someone’s thinking over mere crimes of perception. But who is going to have the courage to abolish crimes of offending vulnerable minorities which is the only way to stop plod from spending his time on them. Far to many would throw up their hands in horror at the idea of abolishing such fashionable offences.
In addition, of course, the University educated civil service, police, NHS leaders and quangocrats are overwhelmingly progressive and will resist any steer away from their favoured policies.
In any case the Conservatives have been bogged down in Brexit and covid and taken their eye off real conservative stuff during much of their tenure of No 10.
Want to help the Police – don’t cut the numbers and constantly spin you are repairing the damage you created in the first place. And give the Met lead power to sack corrupt and abusive officers. Tories been in power 13yrs.
I note that Henry Hill certainly seems to have no constructive ideas here. I guess he’s not responsible and he’s paid to talk and write rather than actually do stuff.
But where’s his analysis on all the questions he asks of Suella Braverman ? Don’t forget, she’s be in her job (ditto Rishi Sunak) for a far shorter period than the “do nothing” journos criticising. I’ll say it again: those who can do and those who can’t preach. Modern jouranalism is in the second category. Far worse than the politicians in my book.
Not claiming I like or approve of Suella Braverman here. Not very enthusiastic. But it seems she is at least *trying* to *do her actual job* (or possible faking that better). And not the *job she wants* or the *job she thinks she should have*. Which is more than you can say about the police. Or the civil service. Or the critics.
“Suella Braverman is the latest minister to make a familiar criticism of the police”
What if she’s right?
You’re forgetting she’s in power not opposition. Pretty basic difference. Hence get on and sort it out.
Unless of course she/you just want an endless culture war and it’s all a big ruse and really you don’t want to sort anything out.
Why? Because political correctness is nasty destructive shit.
The conservatives appear to be ruled by a quaking fear of the mirage that, via the media, the electorates priorities are racism, lgbt and global warming- the stark reality is that the future landslide majority lies in the diametric opposite, and having the guts and courage to stand up and say that the sinister Trident of the national socialist extreme left is the biggest threat to our freedoms and free speech since 1939.
The police are bent, dishonest, inefficient, lazy and corrupt, yet enforce hate crime like the Stasi, and are universally feared and despised.
The Tories have held the purse strings of these public sector organisations for almost a decade and a half. They have had every opportunity to snuff out leftist activist and refused to take it. Perhaps a decade in opposition will teach them why you are meant to actually use your power to defeat your foes and enrich your allies.
Theresa May, the longest serving Home Secretary, was responsible for overseeing the reduction of police officers by 20,000 to 30,000 (depending on whose bumph you read) during her term of office. What a catastrophe!. And the wider damage that Cameron & Co did to public services, including the NHS (building on the damage left behind by Blair & Co), is really hitting us hard now. Cutting public expenditure became the prime objective – not a means to a clear end. The impact of their actions will be felt by people for decades to come.
But Cameron, May, Blair & Co are all wealthy individuals and thereby protected against the consequences of their political actions. Most of us aren’t!
And the worst excesses of wokery have occurred under Tory stewardship. Indeed, the Tory Party is awash with the Woking Class. I trust them as little as I do the Labour lot and hold them in equal contempt!
We don’t need 43 police forces. We need consistent and transparent policing. The government would save billions and have a more effective police force if it merged all forces into one. We also need our police force to look like one and stop the scruffy dressing and lollipop man style uniforms. They need to patrol the streets and stamp down in a forceful way on louts and petty criminals. They need to stop being woke.
Such an article always going to generate a cascade of excuses from the usual commentariat. ‘It’s all because we’ve been sabotaged blah, blah’. Pathetic. Proper snowflake stuff.
The primary issue is the Tories and many on the Right Wing don’t actually want to solve these problems. They just want to perpetuate a culture war. So they don’t get their head down and do the job really needed and instead fixate on the next Culture War slogan where they can try and generate some blue water between them and others.
The Illegal Migration bill being a perfect example. It’s not about solving the problem because a trickle will go to Rwanda at best and we’ve no other return deals. So the backlog isn’t coming down soon and the Traffickers will still be well able to market their offering. But what it will do is set up a culture war clash with the Judiciary and some fictitious liberal blob. Perfect. Same playbook – someone is stopping us. In the meantime processing and holding capacity shockingly deficient. Similarly multilateral action to tackle the causes and hit the traffickers hard lacking because we’ve lost the art of working effectively with others.
The only people stopping us sorting these problems are the clowns been in charge last 13yrs and their daft supporters who keep buying this nonsense.
I hope you aren’t right that the Tories don’t actually want to solve these problems – but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to believe they do. As you point out, the Tories need the “blob” (which I think does exist in some form) if this is their “strategy” (if we can flatter it with such a term !). Just as much as the blob need the Tories. And neither are primarily motivated by solving real problems.
I’m going to give you an upvote on this one (just for a change) as I think you’ve said something important here.
Real question, do you have to have a return deal? Can’t you intercept the boats at sea, give any emergency medical care that may be needed along with some water and food and then return them to the point of origin? Seems like modern surveillance tech would enable this. I don’t understand why Britain and Italy have to shoulder the burden?
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