IF it is true that the office of the Home Secretary is one of the great offices of the British state, its current incumbent, Suella Braverman, disgraces it.

The only surprise about her latest venture as a newspaper columnist is that her spiteful invective appeared in The Times rather than in the pages of the Daily Mail or Express to which her style and views would be better suited. Perhaps if Rishi Sunak ever summons up the courage to do the right thing and sack her, she could get a job as a columnist with one of those newspapers.

Judging from her ignorance of the rule of law and basic principles of human rights I would not recommend that she went back to practice at the English bar, where she is in any event held in low esteem.

But for now, we are stuck with her as Home Secretary and it’s frightening because Braverman is, as her shadow Yvette Cooper has said, out of control. Braverman started the week by describing rough sleeping by homeless people as a “lifestyle choice”.

READ MORE: Scottish Parliament motions tabled calling for ceasefire in Gaza

She has ended it with a full-frontal attack on the operational independence of the police accusing them of left-wing bias in the way they police demonstrations. Yet Sunak will do nothing because he is weak, and he made a Faustian pact with Suella to get the support of the right wing of the Tory Party in his quest to replace the hapless Liz Truss.

The Home Secretary does not like the marches that are taking place demanding a halt to the killing of innocent Palestinian civilians, so she wants them stopped. This is not the instinct of a democrat. Earlier in the week she called them “hate filled”. She was rightly criticised for that by some of her Tory colleagues.

When the Foreign Office Minister, Andrew Mitchell, made a statement to the House of Commons about the situation in Gaza, he refused to support her description of the marches.

Instead, he said: “The rights of protest are much cherished in this country, and, of course, they are enshrined in law, and we respect that. As for what the Home Secretary said, we are all responsible for what we say, and she said it in the way that she did.”

His words were damning.

But, undaunted, Suella went on to pen her column in yesterday’s Times seeking to undermine public confidence in the police decision to let tomorrow’s march in London proceed, deliberately inflaming the tensions that already exist between Jewish and Muslim communities and cynically weaponising the remembrance of our war dead to further her right-wing political agenda.

And again, she repeated her slur that the pro-Palestinian demonstrations are “hate marches”.

The word “hate” has been devalued in our political discourse. It is frequently used cynically by those with power to silence those with whom they disagree. We have seen this in Scotland as well as across the UK.

Cheerleaders for men who want the right to identify as women with next to no safeguards and to invade women’s spaces call the women who seek to defend their rights to privacy, dignity, and safety “hateful”.

The National: Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Home Secretary Suella Braverman (Phil Noble/PA)

Irresponsible politicians and campaigners with the ear of government have sought to brand women and LGB people who have organised to defend their rights as “hate” groups. Many politicians on the left stayed silent while this was going on. Now it has come back to bite them, and it is time for the left to wake up to the dangers incumbent on seeking to undermine freedom of expression by labelling speech which challenges our views as “hate speech”.

As George Orwell said, “If liberty means anything at all it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”

Braverman and the Tory right do not want to hear or see the pro-Palestinian marches because they refuse to countenance the ceasefire being called for.

Why? Because they have painted themselves into a corner by allowing the Israeli government a blank cheque to avenge the terrible murders by Hamas with more massacres of the innocent and they don’t have the gumption to call out the war crimes that have been committed by the Israeli government as well as by Hamas.

And yet the tide of public opinion is against them, and it is spooking even Tory backbenchers. It was noticeable during the statement on Gaza this week that many Tory MPs spoke to express concerns about the extent of the killing of civilians, particularly children and the atrocities that are taking place on the West Bank almost unnoticed.

READ MORE: Ignoring public opinion can haunt politicians forever

Clearly, like SNP and Labour MPs, Tory MPs are coming under a lot of pressure from constituents to condemn the terrible slaughter of innocents we see unfolding on our screens every night.

The SNP will ensure there is a vote on the UK supporting a humanitarian ceasefire in Parliament next week and that is making some politicians on both the Tory and Labour benches very uncomfortable.

The Home Secretary is in danger of provoking a constitutional crisis by applying pressure on the police to do her political bidding. Of course, the police should be subject to scrutiny and oversight including by parliament. Frequently they get things wrong.

Who could forget the appalling heavy-handedness of the policing of the Sarah Everard vigil during Covid or the overzealous policing of anti-monarchists in the aftermath of the Queen’s death last year?

In my work as a defender of women’s and LGB rights I have seen overzealous and, yes, sometimes politically motivated policing of women’s speech.

The police must be politically neutral.

Sometimes they have not lived up to that standard. However, the Home Secretary has gone way too far in seeking to influence operational police decisions to her political advantage.

Next time you hear Suella or any of her colleagues who have failed to distance themselves from her, including the Prime Minister, talk about freedom of speech, remember that they are shocking hypocrites.

But remember too it is as much the responsibility of the left to stick up for freedom of expression as the right. Speaking out and protesting can effect real change. It might even achieve UK Government support for a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza.

Freedom of expression is the bedrock of our democratic society. If we cannot demonstrate against the wanton killing of innocent children and if we cannot go on the streets to call for a ceasefire then our democracy is dead.

Any government which fails to understand this is not fit to govern.