Monday, 4 April 2011

lack of Police intelligence

Police intelligence - at least, that of the Met - is not all it's cracked up to be. Sometimes it reveals downright political ignorance.

The heavy-handed rounding-up of 138 UK Uncut activists in Fortnum & Mason on March 26th, and the confiscation of their mobile phones, indicates that they are seen as a sinister threat to society. No doubt police agents are already deployed to infiltrate this 'dangerous' movement. If the story of the infiltration of the eco-activists in the Midlands is anything to go by, this shouldn't be too much of a concern, since the police informers themselves came to see the police as more of a threat than the activists when they were violently assaulted by their own colleagues, and found themselves largely supportive of the activists' cause. And that unit was planning criminal trespass. Still, it is inconvenient to have large numbers of police itching for some action waiting for you every time you turn up for an action because they've been tipped off.

It can be fairly safely predicted that no charges will stick to any of those arrested. UK Uncut is a peaceful movement that simply seeks to draw attention to a far bigger 'crime' : the deliberate avoidance by many large companies, with the connivance of a craven Inland Revenue, of paying billions of pounds in tax, at a time when millions at the bottom of the pile are going to be experiencing the impact of public spending cuts. Whilst not technically illegal (since it has Inland Revenue approval) this massive tax avoidance is theft from the British public for political reasons : it's about bribing big companies to stay here in Britain - companies that are happy to send the message that 'we'll go elsewhere' unless you look after us.

Meanwhile a small but highly organised anarchist anti-capitalist movement has made quite clear that it will, under cover of large public demonstrations, cause as much criminal damage to certain capitalist targets as it can, and is quite happy to attack the police while they're at it.

In the 'intelligent' police mind, these two radically different movements seem to be one and the same thing. Which papers do the police chiefs read? Is there any 'intelligence' here?

It reminds me of when, in the early 80s, I attended a World Development Movement lobby of Parliament. At the time I was a member of CND - still am - but CND wasn't involved in the lobby. CND was perceived as the Enemy Within at the time. I had had my phone tapped. As I walked through the back streets from Victoria I was surprised to see twenty or so green buses full of riot police waiting. Steel barricades had been erected everywhere, and despite the fact that I was wearing a clerical collar I was assaulted by a young policeman as I attempted to take a picture of the lobbyists for our church magazine. There were about 250 lobbyists in all, mostly over 50 (since it was the middle of a working day), a high percentage of them churchpeople and Quakers meeting their MPs by appointment. That must have cost the taxpayer a bit in police overtime. The BBC news that night reported that there had been a "CND demonstration at the Houses of Parliament" that day, so the police and BBC news team had presumably decided the story in advance. They must have been disappointed there was no violence. Maybe that was why the young copper tried to start some.

Meanwhile, as government is willing to spend billions bribing fat capitalists to stay in Britain another story unfolds.

The Council of World Mission is a network of 31 national churches around the world. It is the successor to the London Missionary Society - the oldest of such movements, founded in 1795, since when its headquarters have been in London. But mission has changed since the days of the LMS's David Livingstone : the missionaries now tend to come here rather than vice versa. Following the departure of its General Secretary, Revd Dr Des van der Water (a white South African), CWM appointed a Jamaican minister Revd Dr Collin Cowan. Unfortunately, the UK Borders Agency has refused Dr Cowan a work visa - not once, but five times finding different reasons every time and changing the rules a couple of times in the process. The message to 13 million Christians round the world is clear : you're welcome in Britain if you're a white South African but if you're black - forget it.

As a result, CWM is having to consider relocating its headquarters to Johannesberg.

Doesn't it all make you proud to be British?