UK Prime Minister Decries ‘Mob Rule’ of Country He’s Theoretically in Charge of

Rishi Sunak has spoken out against the emergence of “mob rule” endangering democracy, despite his party’s governments having been responsible for policing, law, and order for nigh-on 14 years.

Having discovered issues in British society at the very last possible moment when, after over a decade in charge, it is probably now too late to do much about it the leader of the UK’s Conservative government has expressed concern about intimidating factions impacting politics. Rishi Sunak’s comments followed now months of regular Gaza protests in London and other cities, with emboldened protesters also launching what the BBC called “intimidatory protest[s] at MPs’ homes”.

The debate about safety and security of Members of Parliament, already serious after two members of Parliament were killed by extremists in the past ten years, has been given new prominence by increased tensions over the Israel-Gaza war. The speaker of the House of Commons claimed last week he was forced to change the usual business of the house to protect its elected members from becoming the victims of terrorist attacks.

For the Prime Minister, this febrile environment — which he has presided over — is a problem. Now seeking a solution, Sunak summoned police bosses and is reported to have told them:

There is a growing consensus that mob rule is replacing democratic rule. And we’ve got to collectively, all of us, change that urgently.
We simply cannot allow this pattern of increasingly violent and intimidatory behaviour which is, as far as anyone can see, intended to shout down free debate and stop elected representatives doing their job.
That is simply undemocratic… I am going to do whatever it requires to protect our democracy and our values that we all hold dear. That is what the public expect. It is fundamental to our democratic system. And also it is vital for maintaining public confidence in the police.

Sunak said he wanted extra police patrols and a guaranteed minimum police response if a Member of Parliament received a threat, saying this was what the public expected in a democracy and in order to have faith in the police. He did not, however, take the time to publicly reflect on what changes in Britain the policies of the Conservative Party since 2010 might have, inadvertently or not, driven changes in society to produce these effects.

Shortly after Sunak’s lamenting remarks about the damage to democracy being done on his watch, allegations of serious intimidation including death threats were made about the conduct of the Rochdale by-election on Thursday. A man was arrested during the campaign, and the Reform UK Party has published a complaint about the conduct of some candidates and campaigners.

Yet Sunak’s concerns about democratic norms have drawn some pushback, with the Associated Press noting Amnesty International accused him of “wildly” exaggerating intimidation in UK politics and claiming his comments were themselves delegitimising peaceful protest.

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