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The parameters of ‘normal’ politics June 17, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in British Politics.

Telling, is it not, the following story in the Guardian?

Two Green party politicians, including its candidate for mayor of London at the last election, have criticised police chiefs who recorded their political activities on a secret database that was set up to track campaigners deemed to be “domestic extremists”. Neither politician has a criminal record.

And the last here is particularly notable:

Official files show that the police kept a log of the political movements of Jenny Jones, a London assembly member and peer, over an 11-year period while she sat on the official committee scrutinising the Metropolitan police and stood to be London’s mayor.

It demonstrates a number of dynamics – an intolerance of even mild dissent from the orthodoxy (as regards politics), a lack of knowledge or understanding of political activity, and most importantly a sense that this was perfectly legitimate on the part of the police.
Indeed that last is important because it underlines that policing is far from politically neutral, and obviously never more so than in the UK.
The politicians are supporting a lawsuit over the issue and one would have to wish them well in that endeavour.
And what of this?

The domestic extremism unit, run by Scotland Yard, has been monitoring thousands of political activists in order, it says, to identify the hardcore minority who have broken, or are about to break, the law during protests.

Yet far from democratic office providing the two politicians with some sort of legitimacy (in the sense of being underpinned by democratic votes)…

Police started recording the political activities of Jones and Driver after they had been elected to office. The files refer repeatedly to the elected positions the pair have occupied.

Perhaps the explanation can be found in the following:

The file on Jones, who has been a consistent critic of police misconduct and the use of undercover officers to spy on political groups, discloses how the police recorded her activities between 2001 and August 2012.
This covered a period that included her attempt to become London’s mayor in May 2012.

Which, if anything, makes this worse.

Of course there’s a broader point. These behaviours on the part of the police suggest a malaise (to put it at its mildest) but they also undermine any argument that somehow policing is ‘neutral’ and that has an importance in regard to this island too – in both parts of it.


1. Séamas Ó Sionnaigh (An Sionnach Fionn) - June 17, 2014

Since the early 1990s I have attended numerous events around the country, some hardly political in nature at all, yet the one thing they all had in common was the omnipresent Garda photographers in plain-clothes who would loiter behind the closed ranks of Gardaí or poke camera lenses from half-open car windows. Back in the day it was stills cameras. Now it is digital cameras that can record video as well. What happened to all those tens of thousands of images and thousands of hours of recordings? Where did they end up? Are they filed, destroyed, managed securely or simply deposited in storage rooms or dumped on hard drives somewhere?

Why do the most innocuous of events require Gardaí to photograph participants? Why is that at some events they lurk surreptitiously in the background while at others they make an ostentatious show of getting in peoples faces? Policing by surveillance or intimidation?


shea - June 18, 2014

intimidating people can be a form of intelligence gathering for them as well, some take it as a challenge and rise to the bait.
have heard it two ways
1) they are required to monitor precieved challenges to the state
2) they are required to monitor precieved challenges to the government.

both mean different things but have seen them at some innocuous stuff like health marches and the like and and there are known cases of journalist phones getting tapped so maybe.

Myself think there is a bit of an easy pay check in it for them to the SCC, handyest of numbers.

The file question is a great one and i’d love to know the answer to it, with out stating the obvious about the huge potential for abuse, as an archive it could be great for family history and social history and all that.

on the op how did this clr get her hands on this information and is there any grounds for hope here if this case is successful? similar legal systems and all that.


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