If you’ve followed discussions about British policy about defining itself the term ‘hostile’ has cropped up more over recent decades than words like ‘caring’, ‘compassionate’ or ‘inclusive’. So, we see a policy-making attitude that is divisive and punitive regarding people whom the government feels should not be part of the national ‘melting pot’.
The latest incarnation of the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, has had a torrid few days as far as her public image goes.
The Guardian’s Marina Hype wrote a scathing and funny piece last Friday, entitled ‘Perma-smirking Priti Patel brings the hostile environment in-house’, which contained such zingers as:
- ‘repeatedly confused “counter-terrorism” with “terrorism”’
- ‘One of the more eye-catching Home Office briefings against her this week declared that Patel was “not committed to the rule of law”. Given she’s home secretary, that feels akin to a doctor not being committed to the idea of medicine.’
- ‘this week she was accused of bullying staff, trying to oust her most senior official, and creating an “atmosphere of fear” within the department. As opposed to outside of it, which is the norm.’
- ‘Patel insisted those jobs previously filled by immigrant workers would be stepped up to by Britons currently classed as “economically inactive” – a rationale that means so much more coming from someone always classed as intellectually inactive. One theory is that last Thursday’s cabinet reshuffle brought bad news from Priti’s magic mirror, which no longer gave the desired answer when she inquired of it: “Who is the dimmest of them all?”’
She’s had a rough few years after being forced to resign as Secretary for International Development and apologize publicly for holding meetings in Israel in August 2017 without telling the Foreign Office, while on a “private holiday”.
She’s an odd fish in Tory Party waters: the 2nd generation child born in 1972 of Gujarati immigrants who’d left Uganda in the 1960s, before President Amin expelled many such. She’s been painted as a firm pillar of the so-called ‘new right’ while having said allegedly that “racist attitudes” persisted in the Conservative Party, and that “there’s a lot of bigotry around”.
Since being selected as a Tory candidate, winning a seat, rising to Cabinet positions, resigning and then re-emerging as a Cabinet minister is not a shabby resume. However, her hostile stance towards immigrants and those who call the UK ‘home’ is strange. It’s an odd way to square the circles, but that’s politics, I guess.