I suppose this happens to all of us at different speeds, but I am getting a little fed up of this government. In particular, I am getting fed up of the gap between its rhetoric and its actions. Most of the time this is most noticeable with the Prime Minister, who gives his base the occasional morsel of right-wingery only to then force-feed them great dollops of lefty-greenery. On a trip to Washington, Priti Patel has demonstrated that she is also no stranger to this tactic.
So far we have had Patel (the DC version) talk about ‘the mass migration crisis’, as though she is merely an observer of the crisis in the Channel rather than one of the only people actually able to solve it. Then we have the Guardian claiming that Patel is planning to introduce a clause to the nationality and borders bill allowing the government to remove people´s citizenship retrospectively. I hope that this is the case, but since it is the Guardian that it is reporting this, it may very well not be true, and be just another ruse to aggravate a few Guardianistas and excite a few Tories.
And now we have Patel announcing in DC that the UK government is going to proscribe the terrorist group Hamas in its entirety. This is a step forward, to be sure. It has always baffled me why the British government continues the pretence that terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah are divided into 'military' and political wings. The groups themselves don´t recognise this division of labour. They do not have separate offices where the heads of the suicide-bomber squadron kindly requests an audience with the minister of interior affairs, or vice versa. The entities are one and the same and the polite fiction invented in Whitehall that they are not is well past its use-by date.
But banning Hamas is the sort of thing it is easy to announce to friendly hawks in Washington. It is like saying that you are going to 'take back control' of your country's borders. In other words, saying it does not make it so.
So I have a challenge for the home secretary. It is well known not only that supporters of Hamas live in the UK, but that current and former ruling members live in our country. One well known individual happens to live in London. I am fed up with Conservatives thinking they are being tough by saying that they are going to get tough on terrorist groups. Saying a thing does not make it so.
So Patel should use Hamas as a test case. Remove their citizenship. Strip them of a privilege they should never have had anyway. Forcibly expel them or deport them from the country and allow them to try their luck elsewhere. It would be an awfully good warning sign. And a demonstration that at least somebody in this government knows the importance of actions as well as words.