IT seems that there are no depths of nastiness which Home Secretary Suella Braverman is not willing to plumb in order to pander to the compassion and humanity-free zone which constitutes the comments sections of the right wing press.

Braverman has announced plans, likely to be formally unveiled in the King's Speech later this week, to crack down on the use of tents by homeless people in England and Wales.

The new plans reportedly include the creation of a new offence making it illegal for charities to provide tents to homeless people sleeping rough.

Writing on the hatefest formerly known as Twitter, Braverman said: "We cannot allow our streets to be taken over by rows of tents occupied by people, many of them from abroad, living on the streets as a lifestyle choice."

It takes a spectacular failure of understanding, not to mention basic humanity, to characterise rough sleeping as a lifestyle choice, as though people who have other options freely decide to camp out in shop doorways, sheltering from the elements in a cardboard box.

Maybe Braverman watches different TV from the rest of us but I don't recall ever seeing a cardboard box being renovated on Homes Under the Hammer, but if it did, some money grabbing landlord would proudly announce their plans to convert it into an HMO, and that in a nutshell - or rather a cardboard box - is precisely what is wrong with housing policy under the Tories.

No one chooses to sleep rough. People only do so because they have no other option.

The National: The Home Secretary Suella BravermanThe Home Secretary Suella Braverman

The proliferation of rough sleeping over the past decade and a half is one of the most shameful indictments of the failure of this Conservative government to implement a housing policy that works for all, and not just for those with money to spare for buying up former social housing stock and converting it into private tenancies.

This government has also wrecked the social security system, turning it into an anti-social lack of security system which has reduced hundreds of thousands to penury.

But for the likes of Braverman the people who really need to be protected are those comfortable middle class people who are offended by the sight of homeless people who have been forced to sleep on the streets and not those who have been forced to sleep on the streets. You could not ask for a better example of victim blaming.

Homelessness and housing charities have reacted with anger and dismay to Braverman's cruel plan and her crass description of rough sleeping as a "lifestyle choice."

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: "Living on the streets is not a lifestyle choice.

“Homelessness happens when housing policy fails and boils down to people not being able to afford to live anywhere. Private rents are at an all-time high, evictions are rising and the cost of living crisis continues."

Extreme poverty in UK ‘violating international law’

The increasing numbers of rough sleepers is not unrelated to the destruction of the social security system under this government.

It was recently reported in a study published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation that 3.8 million people in the UK experienced destitution in 2022, almost three times as many as in 2017.

Destitution is defined as being unable to afford basic necessities, such as food, clothing, hygiene and heating.

This level of poverty in one of the world's most developed economies is not unavoidable.

The Conservative government, which controls most powers over taxation and benefits, could do something to prevent this, but it chooses not to.

In one sense Braverman was correct when she called rough sleeping and the destitution which causes it as a "lifestyle choice," but not in the way she imagined.

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It is not the lifestyle choice of those forced into penury and despair.

It is the lifestyle choice of a callous government which would rather see thousands reduced to truly desperate straits rather than increase taxes on the wealthy donors who fund the Conservative party.

Ahead of a visit to the UK this week, Olivier De Schutter, the UN's special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, said the UK Government is violating international law by allowing so many people to fall into extreme poverty.

Speaking to The Guardian newspaper De Schutter said: "Its simply not acceptable that we have more than a fifth of the population in a rich country such as the UK at risk of poverty today.

“The policies in place are not working or not protecting people in poverty, and much more needs to be done for these people to be protected."

He added that the UK had signed an international covenant that created a duty to provide a level of social protection which ensured an adequate standard of living but that this was being broken as the £85 per week which many adults dependent on the benefits system are forced to live on - that is if they are not being sanctioned - is simply not enough to meet the basic necessities of life.

The ‘British value’ of criminalising protest

Meanwhile, the Conservatives' answer to all this is to criminalise dissent and protest.

The British Government has reportedly drawn up proposals to broaden the definition of "extremism" to include anyone who "undermines" Britain and its institutions, which has raised fears that independence and anti-monarchy campaigners could be criminalised under the new definition.

The new definition has been prepared by civil servants working in Michael Gove's Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

The new definition reads: "Extremism is the promotion or advancement of any ideology which aims to overturn or undermine the UK's system of parliamentary democracy, its institutions and values."

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Professor Alison Phipps, a prominent campaigner for refugee rights, added: "This effectively proposes criminalising the independence movements and parties in the devolved administrations."

What are "British values" exactly?

Under this government they appear to consist of demonising the poor, foreigners and marginalised groups and criminalising anyone who protests against a status quo which only benefits the rich and the powerful.

Protesting against such "values" is a moral obligation.