Subversion, sabotage and spying: Political policing and state racism in the UK

This was the title of the extraordinary conference I attended at South Bank Uni in early April. Over 2 days speaker after speaker spoke about appalling cases of racism, subversion, dishonesty, criminality and violence by the police and other British State agents. I was familiar with many of the cases and even worked with some of the speakers when I was a civil rights lawyer at Birnbergs. Little of what was said shocked me since I knew it already, but any one of the speakers could stun into silence most audiences were their stories to be given serious airtime. Fortunately the conference was videoed and you can watch many of the speeches online at:

Abuse and Deceit as Policy

Kate Wilson and Helen Steel talked about their amazing fight to expose the undercover policemen who tricked them into long term relationships whilst spying on their friends. Both spoke with huge courage and clarity about this most disgusting of State crimes. Crimes for which the Crown Prosecution Service refuses to prosecute despite the obvious fact that any consent for sexual intimacy was clearly obtained by deceit. They are just two of the thousands of political activists spied on and abused by hundreds of spycops and MI5 agents. As Helen Steel pointed out, the fact that many spycops use similar tactics of emotional manipulation and psychological mirroring to groom their targets proves they were trained in how to do it. It was policy not rogue practice. Both women remain powerful activists dedicated to political and social justice.

The dogged work pioneered by women like Kate and Helen has opened a window onto the sinister world of the British secret police. The campaign is led by groups like Police Spies Out of Lives and Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance with more detailed investigative work by Undercover Research. These groups, and the dozens of miscarriage of justice campaigns, are the only hope that State subversion of protest and State racism will be addressed. The public inquiry into undercover policing led by Justice Pitchford is by definition a contradiction in terms with State agencies desperate to hide from it and the public the truth. The fact is MI5 and Special Branch have been running sabotage, intelligence gathering and psyop operations against any and all effective progressive movements in the UK for over a century. Those operations are now better resourced in terms of both manpower and funding than ever before. Much of that subversive effort is directed at radical and dissenting communities such as those in Hackney. Many of the spycops identified to date operated in Hackney and many many more have yet to be exposed.

Terrorism as Justification

Terrorism is the public justification and cover for all the political policing of dissent and another speaker Prof Mark McGovan gave an excellent academic explanation of the wider repressive agenda exemplified in the government's so called Prevent strategy. This involves criminalising and demonetising Islam whilst delegating thought control and repression to teachers and lecturers in all UK educational institutions. This is Big Brother.

Racism and the Police

Sukhdev Reel described her experience (similar to that of the Lawrence family) on realising she was placed under surveillance by the Met after her son was murdered by racists. The Met failed to catch her son's killers but felt it appropriate to deploy undercover officers to infiltrate the family's campaign for justice.

Rotheram 12

The young Asian activists from Rotheram were the most urgent and inspiring speakers. Following the Rotheram child abuse scandal the police were allowed to dodge responsibility for allowing hundreds of white girls to be abused by a few sick misogynist Muslim men by a racist media hate campaign targeting the Muslim community. The police and Rotheram council had been told repeatedly about the abuse but both failed to act. Rather than ask why the authorities permitted the abuse to go on the tabloid media sought to exploit the opportunity to whip up racism. After months of racist abuse and violence from fascists the community finally reacted when an elderly Muslim man was murdered. True to form the police response to community self defence was to charge young men protecting their community with violent disorder. With clear echoes of the Bradford 12 and many other cause celebs of the 1970s and 1980s the Rotheram 12 case is British justice on trial. SELF DEFENCE = NO OFFENCE.

Spies in our Communities

Dave Smith from Blacklisted spoke about State and corporate collusion in blacklisting workers in the construction industry for union activism and raising health and safety concerns. This was a highly organised and cynical operation to keep from work ordinary working class people who dared to speak out in one of Britain's most accident prone industries.

The above are just a few of the stories from the conference. We are on the border of a police state. Where we go from here is down to how much energy and will we have to fight. It is tempting not to want to know about all the pain and suffering that goes on but if you choose not to know who will be there when you need help?

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