I had a wonderful day pruning one of Hackney's orchards today. I find it hard to reconcile the beauty of these warm first days of spring, the peach blossom, the bird song, the emerging bees and the bursting hope of a new season, with the insanity and violence that secretly dominates our world. As the EU, USA and Russia play dangerous power games in the Ukraine, at home the pervasive reach of secret political policing becomes ever more apparent. My old life as a civil rights lawyer keeps me conscious of other agendas. Whilst a bogus pretence, the memorial at Westminster for Mandela reminds me how little I have sacrificed compared to some others.
This Ellison investigation reveallations about corrupt police, and State infiltration of the Lawrence Campaign require consideration. Details hidden from the MacPhearson Inquiry (though MacPherson chose not to investigate corruption) demonstrate the depths the Met were willing to go to ensure the racist murders of Stephen Lawrence were protected and that those campaigning for justice were sabotaged by police spies. Yesterday the Met's head of counter-terrorism was transferred because of his role as a conduit for that political intelligence. Commander Richard Walton had de-briefed the as yet unnamed Special Demonstration Squad spy placed in the Lawrence Campaign by Special Branch. Then Inspector Walton used the information to brief Met Commissioner Paul Condon, who claims he did not know about the secret police infiltration. But Condon was a pioneer of multi-agency policing when a Deputy Assistant Commissioner in West London. His team persecuted Afro-Carribean activists in Notting Hill planting drugs on the late great Frank Critchlow as part of a long term State attack on his Mangrove Association and on black radicalism.
What they did in Notting Hill in the 1990s they are doing in Hackney today. The tools are the same, as is the agenda. Destroy dissent by direct attacks on activists backed up by aggressive, development led gentrification. We know secret police spies operated in Hackney and abused women activists in deceitful relationships. Only an idiot would believe they have gone away. Now State agents permeate all agencies and the tactics are more subtle than planting huge bags of cocaine on community leaders. Uniformed police can take a back seat as a combination of secret informers, media censorship, bogus fronts and a hidden social cleansing planning policy do the State's work. It may be hard to identify the actors or pinpoint the ring leaders but make no mistake the insanity of luxury flats for the rich is not just a finance scam. Places like Hackney, Brixtonand Notting Hill have long been the homes of the radical, the disenfranchised and the rebellious. As the lunatic Right tighten their grip on power privatisation of education indoctrinates children, life-long debt imprisons the young, whist gentrification of the old 'ghettos' bulldozes the past.
The ideological battle combines revisionist history and constant distraction. The class struggle and radicalism of the 1970s are portrayed as chaotic and degenerate and the abhorrent cull of the working class during WWI as a glorious and necessary sacrifice. Divisive irrelevancies such as immigration or Scottish independence and constructed smear stories (e.g. Harriet Harman and NCCL, timed for the week of NCCL's 80th anniversary) dominate headlines whilst the country sinks beneath Climate Change deluges and super-rich greed.
So what can we do? Well we can keep our eyes and hearts open. We can smell the peach blossom and be kind to those deserving of our love. But most of all we can keep our minds awake. I apply my political experience to comprehend what happens around me and I seek solace in nature when it all gets too much. The fact is their time is over. The capitalist party is running on empty. The economy is fake and fuelled by debt. They have only lies and hate to hide their destruction. Whoever you are, whatever your troubles, would you for one moment give up your conscience, your integrity, your decency to join their madness? Not me.
So I'll leave you with a conundrum. How do you explain the following?
On Weds evening, Open Dalston and a diversity of community activists gathered at the Town Hall to fight another destructive planning decision. Meanwhile 'Dalston Futures' met to 'decide' what to do for Dalston. Having already created a petition about Dalston's Eastern Curve Garden, without consulting those who created and run it, and engaged in a series of facilitated meetings about development in Dalston, without engaging with local activists and Open Dalston; Dalston Futures uses Lottery money and Council grants to 'survey' local opinion and 'represent' local voices. I've filled in 3 or 4 such surveys but they're not interested in what I have to say. Publicly funded community activism, that's a new one.
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