Why they hate Suella Braverman
The media are once again horrified by a woman of colour who dares to hold the wrong opinions.
So Boris Johnson has resigned and, as you’d expect, prospective candidates are throwing their hats into the ring to become the new leader of the Conservative Party and Britain’s next prime minister.
Of course, any candidate who wants the most consequential job in the country will rightly face significant scrutiny and criticism. But the tone and intensity of the criticism that one candidate in particular has been subjected to have been extraordinary.
Suella Braverman, the current attorney general, took the unusual step of announcing her leadership bid live on television, on ITV’s Peston, the day before Johnson resigned.
She spoke about the need to ‘deliver some proper tax cuts’ to deal with the cost of living. She talked about shrinking the size of the state to cut spending, dealing with the migrant Channel crossings, stopping foreign courts from interfering in our affairs and spreading the opportunities of Brexit. And finally, she talked of the need to deal with ‘all of this woke rubbish’.
Some of her points were populist, others were more straightforwardly right wing. No doubt much of what she called for would resonate with sections of the country and certainly with much of the Tory membership.
Yet the reaction to Braverman’s leadership bid has been nothing short of hysterical. Shadow attorney general Emily Thornberry called Braverman a ‘deluded fantasist’ who is ‘the last thing we need in Downing Street right now’. Labour MP Jess Phillips wrote that she could ‘think of few people I’d rather stand against in an election than Suella Braverman’. She has also been branded ‘fucking useless’ by some of her colleagues in the legal profession.
The consensus among the liberal establishment seems to be that Braverman is either an embarrassing blowhard or a terrifying demagogue.
There are reasonable criticisms to make of Braverman, of course. Much of what she said on Peston was pretty trite. But it is only the start of the leadership campaign and it is not as if the potential contenders currently being celebrated have a transformational, visionary political programme up their sleeves.
No one has branded Jeremy Hunt ‘delusional’ for his leadership ambitions, for instance. He may be a darling of the liberal elite, but most of the country probably finds him as interesting as a piece of cardboard. Nor have similar insults been thrown at far less experienced contenders than Braverman, who is an accomplished barrister and currently holds a senior ministerial role.
This is not a one-off, of course. The sneering towards Braverman is remarkably similar to that which is constantly directed at home secretary Priti Patel. Both Patel and Braverman are unashamedly pro-Brexit, anti-woke and right-wing. Those who disagree with these stances have every right to do so. But the hostility is revealing. It is as if Braverman and Patel, as women of colour, are not supposed to hold such views. They are supposed to toe the line of the liberal establishment.
Of course, what this sneering shows is that the liberal elites have still not learned any lessons from the populist revolts of recent years. The more they demonise Braverman for holding views that are apparently beyond the pale, the more she will look like an outsider who is challenging an anti-democratic, elitist consensus – which, ironically, could work in her favour.
It’s still early days in the Tory leadership race. Anything can happen. But in a context where politicians are sorely lacking in ideas, vision and imagination, I’d much rather we had some outspoken candidates with a bit of backbone to choose from, rather than the stale managerial technocrats that we are so often lumbered with today.
Inaya Folarin Iman is a GB News presenter and founder of the Equiano Project.
Picture by: Getty