DAILY MAIL COMMENT: PM shines after dark day for democracy

British politics can often be peculiar and tumultuous. Yesterday that was doubly so.

Dawn broke with a by-election triumph for one of the country’s most poisonous and divisive political figures. And as the sun set, the Prime Minister made a plea for unity.

Make no mistake. This was a dreadfully dark day for democracy.

Nine years after he last left parliament, George Galloway – an odious Left-wing demagogue who worshipped at the feet of Saddam Hussein – is an MP again.

The firebrand swept to victory in Rochdale after a deliberately and dangerously sectarian campaign, marred by reported death threats and violence, which exploited fury among Muslim voters over Gaza.

He was, of course, helped by Labour leaving a vacuum in one of its safest seats after disowning its candidate Azhar Ali for peddling anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.

George Galloway poses for a photograph outside his campaign headquarters in Rochdale, northern England on March 1, 2024, on the day he was elected as MP following a by-election

Mr Galloway’s toxic brand of politics risks worsening the racism, disruption and criminality seen on Britain’s streets since Hamas’s October 7 massacre in Israel.

So speaking in Downing Street, Rishi Sunak was right to say: Enough is enough.

Announcing a crackdown on extremism, the PM gave a supremely powerful, personal and statesman-like address – one the nation was crying out to hear.

With the police supine, militant activists have become ever bolder. There have been threats to MPs’ safety, intimidation and a rising tide of anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim hatred. ‘Democracy itself is a target,’ warned Mr Sunak.

Senior officers, he said rightly, must police marches, not just manage them. His pledges to boost support for anti-extremism programmes and cancel visas for those spewing hatred are also welcome. He must now turn words into action.

Britain is proud of its values, tolerance and freedoms. By vowing to protect them from zealots, Mr Sunak has shown the leadership the country wants and deserves.

Hapless Home Office

Nearly two decades have passed since Labour’s John Reid memorably described the Home Office as ‘not fit for purpose’.

In the years since, it is depressingly difficult to see what has changed.

By almost every yardstick, the shambolic, bungling ministry – run by Home Secretary James Cleverly – is failing dismally.

Take immigration. In every election since 2010, the Tories have promised voters they would restore sanity and restraint to Britain’s borders. Yet the latest official statistics show that promise has not just been broken. It’s been positively shattered.

Last year, a record 1.4million migrant visas were handed out. It is simply too many, adding to the already crippling strain on our public services.

The Home Office has seemingly given up the ghost on other fronts. The asylum system is in chaos, small boats keep coming, police stand idly by as pro-Palestine protesters spurt racist bile and feral thugs shoplift with virtual impunity.

Home Secretary James Cleverly decided to release the findings of an overdue investigation into immigration scandals - on the same day the Angiolini report into police failures over Wayne Couzens was released

Home Secretary James Cleverly decided to release the findings of an overdue investigation into immigration scandals – on the same day the Angiolini report into police failures over Wayne Couzens was released

One might think Mr Cleverly would want to spend every waking second tackling these problems. But on Thursday, he was conspiring to try to ‘bury bad news’.

How shabbily cynical of him to release 13 excoriating reviews into Britain’s broken border system on the day a report into police blunders that left officer Wayne Couzens free to murder was published.

True, the Home Secretary has been in post only since November. But he has so far been less than impressive.

He stands accused of gaffes, including using foul language to describe the Rwanda scheme and the town of Stockton-on-Tees, and sacking the border watchdog for flagging up national security concerns.

Some say Mr Cleverly seems to have little appetite for robust action. He must raise his game. Anything less would be a grotesque betrayal of the public who rely on his department for safety and security.

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