As a practising Buddhist, Suella Braverman will be familiar with the Four Noble Truths that underpin the teachings of the Buddha. The first Noble Truth is that ‘life is suffering’, which Braverman appears to have taken to heart and is determined to spread as much suffering as she can.
She did, after all, once say that it was her “dream” and “obsession” to see asylum seekers taken to Rwanda. Not exactly Martin Luther King, is it? Still, let’s not pre-judge Braverman; let’s instead take a look at the content of her character.
She has been visiting Rwanda this week as she prepares the ground further for enacting her aptly titled ‘illegal migration bill’, which contains the depressing disclaimer that it is incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. You know, that crazy one which says people should be allowed a fair trial and should not be tortured or kept in slavery?
Schrödinger’s migration bill
The Sunday Times quoted a government source as saying: “It ensures anyone travelling to the UK illegally will be detained and deported under the illegal migration bill irrespective of their claim, be it asylum, human rights, modern slavery, or nothing at all.” I always thought Buddhists were supposed to work at letting go of hatred and ignorance, but what do I know? Braverman was reported to have said that asylum seekers removed to Rwanda would find it a “blessing”, which makes you wonder why the government keeps telling us it will be a deterrent.
The bill is said to have been drafted by “the nation’s finest legal minds” (and Suella Braverman). In her statement on the bill to the House of Commons, Braverman warned that “there are 100 million people around the world who could qualify for protection under our current laws. And let’s be clear: they are coming here”. Obviously, they are not coming here – they’d need a bigger boat – but there’s an idea for a new Disney animated sequel somewhere in there: Suella De Vil in 101 million Albanians.
Clutching at pearls
In a bizarre instance of collateral damage from the bill, for several days last week the front page of every newspaper was concerned with whether Match Of The Day would be on telly. As you’ll recall, Gary Lineker had tweeted about Braverman’s statements on asylum seekers, saying that “This is just an immeasurably cruel policy directed at the most vulnerable people in language that is not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s”. Right-wing newspapers and politicians responded with a fine piece of performance art, unironically calling for Lineker to be silenced. As James O’Brien tweeted, “If you’re cross about being compared to Nazis, then calling for your critics to be silenced & sacked probably isn’t the best way to prove them wrong”.
The Mail on Sunday outdid itself with a front-page piece of pearl-clutching: “Among the many who enjoy Gary Lineker’s sports presenting”, it said, “there must be millions who differ with him on migration. Who speaks for them?” Who indeed? It’s SO hard to find, say, a right-wing newspaper that parrots the government line at every opportunity. “Why must their pleasure be diluted by his political posturing?” it continued. Yes, if your pleasure watching Southampton vs Wolves has been diluted by someone on Twitter having a different opinion, or if you have been affected by any of the issues raised in Match Of The Day, please contact the Richard Littlejohn helpline, where you’ll be told not to be such a snowflake.
Carte blanche vs Carte rouge
Under so much political pressure, Lineker was suspended by the BBC. The Labour Party somehow contrived to miss the open goal they’d been offered – or, more likely, they were fearful of Godwin’s law – and said the suspension echoed “Putin’s Russia”, rather than making the slightly more obvious comparison.
Following Lineker’s suspension, all the other BBC pundits and commentators also refused to take part in the programme, leading to the football highlights being shown in isolation, without commentary or discussion. But with Lineker standing his ground and refusing to apologise, by Monday morning the BBC had climbed down and reinstated him. Most of the newspapers called it a 1-0 win for Lineker, though on the other hand the former chair of the BBC, Greg Dyke, reckoned it was “a 5-0 win for Gary Lineker really, or maybe 5-1”. He was perhaps watching a different match, or needed Jonathan Pearce to provide some commentary.
The Tory ‘Common Sense Group’ (no, really) responded by saying that the “the BBC’s decision gave Lineker carte blanche [steady – less of that foreign talk] to say what he wanted”. Imagine – people having free speech! That’ll be another one of those pesky articles in the European Convention on Human Rights. Meanwhile, Conservative MP Alun Cairns said that the BBC had allowed themselves to be “pushed around by a privileged and overpaid elite”. I can only assume he’s referring to the Conservative Party.
Meanwhile in unrelated news, Braverman is said to be looking to find a ‘safe seat’ in another constituency as her own is under threat. Sadly, she is finding it difficult. A fellow Tory MP admitted that Braverman was “not very good at charming” the membership. “They want to hear about softer stuff, not Rwanda”, they said. “They’d rather have someone who they can have a nice chat to at an event about what was on TV that weekend.” Hm, yes. I wonder if she watched Match Of The Day.
Anyway, I hope she’s not travelling too far in search of a new constituency. Surely she should stop in the first available constituency she comes to, or risk being deported to a third one for ‘processing’ – Glasgow South, perhaps. No doubt she would find it a blessing.