‘Is that the best you can do?’ asks the photographer after asking Theresa to force a smile.
She might not try to set fire to hostels accommodating unaccompanied minors from abroad, but is what Theresa May instigated in her time as Home Secretary and then later as Prime Minister enough to warrant being considered as a form of psychological, emotional and physical terrorism?
Perhaps it is, if you are incarcerating people against their will, for merely wanting to enter the country. You might think you’re justified, but you are still deliberately inflicting harm and terror on people, even if you claim that that is not the reason you are doing it (even if you know well that is partly the reason you are doing it).
That’s one of the questions that I seek to answer in what will be an ongoing investigation on this page. What is clear is that May was a bully and remains a coward. She tries to justify her behaviours by explaining it as delivering the demands or concerns of the popular will.
Theresa May was the Home Secretary in the UK from 2010 to 2016.
In 2012 she announced she was putting plans in place to make the UK a ‘The aim is to create a really hostile environment for illegal immigration’ (see here). The banality of evil. May used these bureaucratic ‘process’ words, e.g. immigration rather than immigrants, and ‘The aim’ rather than ‘I want to’ in a way that made it seem like she was simply exercising a normal government function to produce an effective result.
But in politics, Home Secretaries can say this kind of stuff, they can talk about ‘creating a really hostile environment’ that invokes the idea that its OK to do really horrible stuff to ‘illegals’ that you would get arrested for and jailed if you were to do it to a ‘normal’ BUT without quite saying that. They can use this kind of language, against the poorest and most vulnerable people, against some imagined invading enemy. Gary Lineker only said recently, to great response, that the language being used by the ruling British political class is similar to that being used by the Nazis in the 1930s. He was right, but he could have also added quite rightly, that Theresa May was doing it back in 2012. It doesn’t take much, when you hear ‘a really hostile environment’ for ‘illegal immigration’ to recall what life was like for Jewish people living in Germany in the 1930s, Kristallnacht and all. And what, if you think about the worst possible thing the German state did to Jewish people, is the worst kind of kind of hostile environment you could imagine? Venus is a hostile environment for one particular reason.
May of course was not particularly concerned about immigration. She doesn’t appear to care enough about people to be an out and out racist. But she did have her career to think about. And her career was like a big piece of untreated sewage floating down one of the UK’s many rivers. The force of a racist right-wing national media and now internationalist corporate social media, and their shat on directionless readership, were all gagging, it seems, in the to see the immigrants, so many of whom had come to Britain and done better than them, humbled, crippled and turned into whatever being exposed to a really hostile environment does to you. Brexit was an opportunity for a lot of miserably shitty British people, who had seen cleverer more dynamic and harder working immigrants making a life for themselves in a competitive capitalistic system, that they couldn’t to bring the ‘immigrant’ down a peg; urged on by a capitalistic class who had performed a great financial heist with the housing crisis of 2007 and wanted to further fuck the poor through being able to continue to use London’s financial markets to squirrel away their ill-gotten gains and those from Russia and Saudi Arabia, without the EU regulators interfering, and wanted to distract the attention of people away from their crimes and on to the fictitious illegal immigrant. Theresa May instinctively knew in which direction the Brexity shit flow was moving. Her ‘really hostile environment’ was like a greased up floom ride inflatable.
But what did Theresa May even mean by this? What things did she set off in motion under the heading hostile environment. Well it was a series of bureaucratic measures that would cause people who did not have the right documents to find themselves homeless, without recourse to medical care or financial support to survive. In detail, the Telegraph article says:
- Denial of work.
- Denial of housing.
- Denial of bank accounts.
- Getting Councils to close down ‘beds in sheds’.
‘Its going to be very simple for landlords’ she banally said ‘Just asking them to ask some questions about people’s status’.
Of course May’s words are weasel words, cowardly words from a person who doesn’t have the strength of character to own what it is she is doing. What Theresa May really meant was that she was going to personally instruct a range of people and institutions working for the state to abuse and hurt people, who came to the UK, to scare them, to terrorise them (there’s really no difference, its just one word is more politically charged than the other).
But what would a person living in the United Kingdom do without work, housing a bank account or even their bed in the shed? Well what would you do? These banal bureaucratic measures, would of course, with time, as anyone in that situation would know cause extraordinary distress, despair and suicidal feelings. It would be the same kind of feelings you’d experience if you had a brick thrown the front window. May’s words, couched in the banality of evil, in bureaucratic language, and her actions, were designed to slowly maim and kill people, to destroy them psychologically, and to sow panic, despair and terror. Moreover she was going to do this bureaucratically turning all the actors of the state, all the people who might offer a helping or a transactional hand, to withdraw that hand, to leave people completely isolated and desperate. She wanted to turn the illegal immigrant into the ‘scream’.
The effect that Theresa May intended, reminded me of of something Hannah Arendt said of how it felt to be Jewish in Nazi Germany in the 1930s,
People often think today that German Jews were shocked in 1933 because Hitler assumed power. As far as I and people of my generation are concerned, I can say that is a curious misunderstanding. Naturally Hitler’s rise was very bad. Bit was political. It wasn’t personal. We didn’t need Hitler’s assumption of power to know that the Nazis were our enemies! That had been completely evident for at least four years to everyone who wasn’t feebleminded. We also knew that a large number of the German people were behind them. That could not shock us or surprise us in 1933. The problem, the personal problem, was not what our enemies did but what our friends did. In the wave of Gleichschaltung (co-ordination), which was relatively voluntary in any case, not yet under the pressure of terror it was if an empty space formed around one. I lived in an intellectual milieu, but I also knew other people. And among intellectuals Gleichshaltung was the rule, so to speak. But not among the others. And I never forgot that.
And what if this was Theresa May who was the victim? An eye for an eye? A hostile environment for Theresa May? What sadistic pleasures does that conjure up for those who hate Theresa May (rather than illegal immigrants) and how would Theresa May feel about some person of immense power declaring that he or she was going to create a hostile environment for Theresa May in the UK? And what if, wherever Theresa May went she was refused any help, any accommodation, any work? What would Theresa think and feel then?
And to publicise that terror, so that others see, hear and read about it, and feel less inclined to what to come to the United Kingdom. That is what this new barge thing for asylum seekers is about. Its a photo opportunity, and frankly, there’s nothing too bad that can happen on it, because the purpose of the exercise is to create a global news story, to frighten people from wanting to come and live and work in the United Kingdom (poor people who aren’t white; Ukranians are fine).
What May set off, was a process which is still in play today with the racist seta and policies of British Asian set of Braverman, Patel and Sunak.
There is of course a irony to the fact that Braverman, Patel and Sunak have been at the forefront of pushing these policies. Their ancestry and skin colour means that they are, traditionally, from the types of groups that have historically received some of the worse kind of racist aggression, violence and terrorism in the UK, at the hand of nasty white British men (in the main). Perhaps it is for this very vulnerability that these career politicians have made a super attempt to maintain and push the policies even further – to kind of get onside with the big white bullying racist. We’re like you, we’re on the same side – us British Hindus and White Supremacists – we stand united against the Muslim Pakistani grooming gangs.
May is not personally responsible for all of this. But she played a very important part some ten years ago in helping it on its way. And whilst she may have been critical of some things that have happened since, she is trying to wriggle out of something that her actions are deeply enmeshed into. The thing that I dislike about May most of all, is that she is, like many politicians, someone who doesn’t seem to have any sense of what they actually believe in. Her political instinct is to work out which way the wind is blowing and then to present her position as if it was common sense. Only when the wind changes, she quickly changes back. Look at the way in which she was one of the few politicians remaining, who was wanting to implement Brexit, even though she herself voted to Remain. And now in the wake of Windrush she’s claiming that things have gone too far and that this wasn’t what she had intended when she had wanted to create a really hostile environment, and that even though, she still needed to create that environment.
In fact that more I think and write about May, the less I care about her. The thing that fascinates me more than anything is the way in which politics can throw leaders like her up. People who don’t really believe in anything, but who are like chameleons, and how politics sometimes needs these greasy animals, to serve the interests of others, who would much rather remain behind the scenes. May had her use in some way for the British political system, torn between the anger of Brexit and the conservatism of the Conservatives.
She was also the most banal of evil-doers too, at a time when British people, fuelled by the media, were braying for the blood sacrifice of the Eurocrat and the illegal immigrant (any immigrant really).
‘Most people think its unfair that people can have access to public health services without paying into them, and that’s its unfair that illegal immigrants who have no right to be here can live apparently easily getting access to bank accounts and driving licenses and so forth…’ said May in 2013
Of course what Theresa May was aiming to do, was to create an expectation backed with threats, so that everyone working in Britain for the state, or in the housing or hotelier industry, were intimidated into turning a cold shoulder to the ‘illegals’ so that the ‘illegals’ would slide into desperation, extreme poverty, hunger, homelessness and deprivation. Theresa May’s acts were the most violent form of passive aggression or shunning and stigmatising the ‘illegals’ to force them into unbearable, inhumane, hostile conditions. It is difficult to articulate the end goal, of such violent passive aggression, partly because May didn’t define it herself, what would the end state be for these ‘illegals’ in this ‘hostile environment’ – what was May with her withered bitter smile – hoping to achieve – that they would curl up in a ball and die, that they would slit their wrists? Or that they would prostitute themselves, falling into Britain’s underground sexual exploitation and rape trade? May wouldn’t say, because she was a coward and a weasel, because not even she was able to face up to and admit to her true intentions. Instead she versed her actions and behaviour in abstract, bureaucratic and rights based language, it was simple, they had not paid into a system, legally they were not supposed to be here, so the government were going to ensure that they could not access certain or really any services. Ah, that sounds better doesn’t it? Lovely.