• Monday, March 04, 2024

HEADLINE STORY

Suella betrayed her own culture, says Tory parliamentarian

Braverman positioning herself as leader of Tory right, says Asian MP

Suella Braverman (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

By: Sarwar Alam

A LEADING Tory parliamentarian has accused home secretary Suella Braverman of “betraying” her own culture and background with her claim that multiculturalism in Britain has “failed”.

Braverman, in a speech last week at the American Enterprise Institute, in Washington DC, described multiculturalism as a “misguided dogma” that had allowed people to come to the UK with the aim of “undermining the stability and threatening the security of society”.

“Uncontrolled immigration, inadequate integration and multiculturalism” had been a “toxic combination” for Europe, she added.

Braverman is the daughter of immigrants who came from Mauritius and Kenya in the 1960s. She was adamant her hard-line immigration stance “is no betrayal of my parents’ story”.

Speaking to Eastern Eye, the Tory parliamentarian disagreed with the home secretary’s views and spoke of feeling “hurt” by Braverman’s comments.

“It hurts more coming from her because she is someone of south Asian heritage, a child of immigrants. Almost feels like she is betraying her own culture and background,” the politician said, adding the home secretary’s words were “unacceptable” and accusing her of using “incendiary language”.

“It’s dog-whistle politics at its worst,” they said.

“You can contrast it with Suella Braverman’s predecessors, the likes of (former home secretary and chancellor) Sajid Javid, for example, who said Britain is the most multicultural democracy in the world.”

Another one of Braverman’s predecessors, Dame Priti Patel, claimed Braverman’s comments were designed to “to get attention” and deflect away from “delivery around changes to policy in government” in the lead-up to a general election.

“This side of the general election, if I may politely suggest, it is about delivery and the government will be judged on delivery,” Dame Priti said on Sky News’ Sunday Morning (1) with Trevor Phillips.

“If you make the pledges, statements and promises, you have to deliver. Pledges are no substitute for action and I think the public are sick of hearing about some of these issues and the failure to deliver.

“I think it is right everyone puts a shoulder to the wheel, cracks on and delivers.”

Dame Priti Patel (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

Dame Priti also rebuked Braverman’s assertion that multiculturalism had failed, pointing to the likes of herself, Philips and “a hell of a lot of other people” who, she said, are “actual products of integration, multiculturalism, dynamic communities” something Britain should be proud of.

Prime minister Rishi Sunak also refused to back Braverman, saying the UK is a “fantastic multi-ethnic democracy” and had done an “incredible job of integrating people into society”.

The chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, whose wife is of Chinese ethnicity, said he “would not use her words”. He insisted Britain “benefits massively” by welcoming people from around the world.

The parliamentarian admitted to finding it difficult to explain the reasons behind the home secretary’s immigration policies, but suspected her desire to succeed Sunak was a key reason behind her actions.

Sunak might have even considered sacking Braverman over her “inflammatory” immigration rhetoric, the parliamentarian said.

“They (Sunak and Hunt) are her senior colleagues who have not just distanced themselves, but outright contradicted her in the case of the prime minister.

“The language and the sentiments that she used, I question why the prime minister doesn’t consider the future of the home secretary in his cabinet.

“I hope that when it comes to the next reshuffle, that he will seriously look at whether or not he wants somebody like this being the home secretary.”

Home Secretary Suella Braverman, Foreign Secretary James Cleverly and Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt (right) during the final day of the Conservative Party Conference on October 4, 2023 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)

Sunak’s dilemma over sacking Braverman could be that it might in fact work in her favour in any future race to be Tory party leader, added the parliamentarian.

“She’s trying to burnish her own credentials and (is) positioning herself as the standard bearer for the right of the Conservative Party where there is a segment, unfortunately, who share similar views. She felt she could get away with these things because she wasn’t going to be sacked, and if she was sacked, it would play in her favour because she’d be seen as a martyr for her supporters.”

It was likely that Braverman’s self-doubts played a part in her views, the parliamentarian said.

“It almost like she feels she hasn’t been fully accepted into society and this is her way of going above and beyond and showing she is more British than the British.

“But that is actually totally unnecessary and pointless, because you show me somebody who is pure British; Even the British royal family has German ancestry.

“Maybe she feels inadequate herself and is trying to prove that she is so British she can point to others who have not embraced, as she puts it, ‘British identity’.

“I don’t know what British identity is. I do know there are things we identify as common British values. But there is a difference between British values and British identity.”

The Labour party currently hold a double-digit poll lead, with a general election which needs to be called by January 2025 at the latest.

Labour MP Preet Gill told Eastern Eye Braverman was using the supposed failure of multiculturalism as a way to drive attention away from the government’s own shortcomings.

Preet Gill MP (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

“The United Kingdom is an ethnically diverse country with many different communities that reflects the multicultural nature of Britain,” said Gill, who represents Birmingham Edgbaston. “Many British people’s families originally come from overseas. Over the centuries, people from around the world have come to live here.

“Multiculturalism in this country has not failed. I am immensely proud to be Britain’s first female Sikh MP and represent a diverse constituency in our second city.

“However, in the last decade, the Tories have put additional pressure on our communities.

“People are suffering the worst cost-of-living crisis in a generation; the Conservatives have presided over the loss of housing stock, including social housing, over 13 consecutive years.

“They have also hindered integration by cutting language classes for immigrants wanting to learn English,” she said.

“Multiculturalism isn’t the problem facing this country – it’s Tory politicians like Suella Braverman.”

During this week’s Conservative party conference, party chairman Greg Hands conceded the party were “the underdogs” heading into the next general election.

The Asian parliamentarian alleged that Tory MPs were using the conference as a “beauty parade” to position themselves as the next leader of the party.

“The cabinet MPs, many of them are not up for the fight, they seem to be resigned to the outcome of losing the next general election,” they said.

“I think there is still everything to play for given the fact that there are a lot of still undecided voters, and that’s what the polling also shows. It’s short-sighted for them to just give up all hope at this stage.

“Remember, this time last year we had Liz Truss as prime minister and Kwasi Kwarteng as chancellor – look at what’s happened in the space of one year.”

Braverman using ‘disgraceful tactics’

SUELLA BRAVERMAN questioning whether the UN Refugee Convention was “fit for our modern age”, could lead to the start of a culture war, Khalid Mahmood MP told Eastern Eye.

Braverman called the 1951 Refugee Convention, which legally defines the term “refugee” and outlines their rights, as an “outdated legal model,” citing a study that said the convention now gives at least 780 million people the potential right to move to another country.

Western countries will not be able to sustain an asylum system “if in effect simply being gay, or a woman, or fearful of discrimination in your country of origin, is sufficient to qualify for protection,” she added.

Khalid Mahmood MP

Braverman, a lawyer who has criticised the European Convention on Human Rights for blocking the government’s Rwanda scheme, said a system where “people are able to travel through multiple safe countries… while they pick and choose their preferred destination to claim asylum, is absurd and unsustainable.”

“She’s talking absolute nonsense,” Mahmood said. “The frightening thing is her words have already been picked-up and supported by the extreme far-right groups and will lead to disharmony and culture wars.”

Mahmood also condemned the home secretary for using “inflammatory lies” such as suggesting that 100 million asylum seekers could come to the UK without her planned immigration crackdown.

The UN Human Rights Council has estimated there at more than 100 million forcibly displaced people around the world, but only 26 million have left their own country. The Refugee Council said the home secretary’s comment “doesn’t reflect reality” as the vast majority displaced from their homes stay within the country.

“These are just incendiary comments that are designed to get the right-wing Tories on her side. She will do anything to get political points,” said Mahmood. “She’s using this derogatory language for her own political gain at the expense of her own community. It’s disgraceful to see a home secretary, one of the great offices of state, resort to these sorts of tactics.”

Tory policies ‘foster insecurity’

PROFESSOR Anand Menon, of thinktank UK in a Changing Europe, said the home secretary’s immigration policies made ethnic minorities feel “insecure” in this country, an experience previous generations had felt and which he said will play a part in the next general election.

Professor Anand Menon

“I find it very hard to talk about these things in terms of my experiences, but in the case of minority voters, the issue of security is really important,” he said. “It’s a very multi-layered issue for ethnic minorities. It’s partly economic security and but also, it’s about feelings of security in the country.

“Indian parents of my generation, would routinely, and this is true of my friends, family, stress the fact that you are a visitor in this country and unless you really go out and prove yourself, this country will turn its back on you. There was a very profound sense of being here under sufferance. This was the 1970s, it was a very different world. But it bred a sense of insecurity that non-minority voters are not familiar with.

“This is where the tension lies with the Conservatives party, being the party of traditional values and economic security, but with an approach to immigration that fosters precisely that kind of insecurity.”

‘Integration is not easy’

IN THE aftermath of Suella Braverman’s speech on multiculturalism failing, polling by JL Partners suggested that more adults agreed with her than disagreed, by 39 per cent to 30 per cent.

Tim Montgomerie, a former adviser to ex-prime minster Boris Johnson and creator of the influential website ConservativeHome, said although she could have “said things better” there was some truth to her words.

Tim Montgomerie

“The problem with the word multiculturalism is if we asked each of us what we thought multicultural was, we could get a different definition of it,” said Montgomerie. “Where she (Braverman) is onto something, and I don’t think her critics give her enough charity on this, is that integration isn’t an easy thing. Just because we’ve succeeded reasonably well, so far, doesn’t mean the numbers coming in a few years aren’t relevant.

“Every country has a certain ability to absorb new migrants and if we lose control, in a way that (France president) Emanuel Macron was warning about Europe can’t be the home or the world’s misery, we do need to manage it carefully.

“So, I don’t think she was right to say we’re a failure at the moment. But if we don’t manage to get control of our borders, I could see problems in the future.”

Eastern Eye

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