Workers' Weekly On-Line
Volume 50 Number 39, October 31, 2020 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

Police Powers Enshrined in the Bills Passing through Parliament

Step up the Opposition on the Basis of Fighting for the Rights of All

In addition to the UK Internal Market Bill, there are currently two further Bills before Parliament which legally place the police powers, as well as the armed forces, outside the scope of the civil power. Both the Overseas Operations (Service Personnel And Veterans) Bill and the Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill seek to create special classes of defendants in domestic law in respect of whom the criminal law will not apply [1]. These Bills are consistent with the overall restructuring of the state which has been ongoing and which is at the heart of the neo-liberal anti-social offensive.

The proposed legislation exposes and consolidates a pro-war government, one that is not just pro-war in the sense of its foreign policy, but is based on a permanent state of emergency in the sense of the enemy being "terrorism" or "extremism", which has been legislated on particularly since 2001, but dates back to the Prevention of Terrorism Act of 1974 and before, when emergency powers were conferred on the police. This is the nature of British democracy, which sees its colonial and imperialist history in glowing terms and defines this history in terms of wiping out the opposition it terms terrorism. Today, when imperialist globalisation holds sway, the national and international arrangements that the imperialist forces are putting in place lead to prolonged suffering, corruption, destruction and war and must be and are being opposed.

"Emergency" legislation presupposes a permanent state of exception, as it has been particularly since the time of Tony Blair, who declared in 2005 that the main enemy was "mass terrorism", that "the rules of the game have changed", and that the danger was from "Islamist extremism" and "revolutionary communism". This is presented as defence of democracy, which is what is being presented now, and has been developed since Blair elaborated the Third Way. Before then, the Irish people fighting for sovereignty and independence were the "extremists" whom the British state denigrated and organised to assassinate. The Undercover Policing Inquiry and the work done by the Undercover Research Group has itself exposed the extent of the criminality of the so-called "spycops" [2], a criminality which the CHIS Bill now seeks to legalise, as does the Overseas Operations Bill. What is so shocking nowadays is the sweeping away of any means or mechanism for accountability of the government and the mea sures to which they are giving the green light.

State powers are also being extended to be imposed on schools. A state ideology centred on this definition of "extremism" is being enshrined in "guidance" to schools. The "guidance" is a kind of handbook about the essence of this "democracy", which, at the same time as in words claiming that it is for civil liberties, includes opposition to capitalism as a hallmark of "extremism". And in the Westminster discourse, the European Convention on Human Rights is being treated as something foreign and alien, along with the European Court of Human Rights. This is meaning that freedom of expression and the right to conscience are under attack. Any material associated with the "extremism" of opposition to neo-liberalism, private property, and a Westminster system of democracy is debarred. The irony is that it is these very values which the state claims to protect which are being sent into crisis.

These measures are being opposed, and the fight to oppose them is being stepped up against the neo-liberal offensive through the movement of the working class and people for their rights. This includes opposition to the building of a war economy and the associated plundering of the public treasury.

The issue therefore is not to defend a democracy that is being lost through the imposition of a state ideology and the suspension of civil liberties, but in exposing the essence of that "democracy", to fight for the rights of all, and work for democratic renewal. This is the urgency of the striving for empowerment.

1. See the For Your Information article below. Also see Supplement at end.

2. For this research in relation to RCPB(ML), see the profiles on Powerbase:

The judge-led public inquiry was launched six years ago by the home secretary at the time, Theresa May, after it was revealed how police had covertly monitored the campaign for justice over the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence. The inquiry is now to resume next week under retired judge Sir John Mitting. It will begin by hearing evidence from the period 1968-1972, particularly on the infiltration by the state of the movement against the Vietnam War. Overall the inquiry is due to scrutinise the deployment of nearly 140 undercover officers who spied on more than 1,000 political groups across more than four decades. Workers' Weekly will report on proceedings as they unfold.


Link to Full Issue of Workers' Weekly

RCPB(ML) Home Page

Workers' Weekly Online Archive