Workers' Weekly On-Line
Volume 51 Number 8, March 6, 2021 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

Covert Human Intelligence Sources Act Becomes Law

It was announced in the House of Commons on March 1 that the Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Act (CHIS Act) had received the Royal Assent and thus becomes law. The Act authorises criminal activity, which would specifically include murder, rape, torture, perverting the course of justice and all other crimes defined by civil society, committed by undercover police agents and other intelligence services.

The CHIS Act has been going hand in hand with the passage through Parliament of the Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans) Bill, at present at the Committee stage in the House of Lords, which gives immunity from prosecution to British soldiers for crimes including torture and genocide. That Bill would also protect the Ministry of Defence and the Secretary of State from legal claims to damages.

Britain is a state ruled by police powers, that is, by arbitrary discretionary powers in the hands of the executive and judiciary as well as intelligence agencies, police and armed and special forces. The "rule of law" is nothing other than the rule of these police powers. Any crimes committed by the state and its arms and agencies fall under this "rule of law", and this is the significance of the CHIS Act, which makes it explicit. The "rule of law" is the mode of operation of the British state, committing acts of racism, assassination, terrorism, and then claiming that undercover and political policing is necessary by blaming the people for such acts. In other words, these arbitrary powers, which the state squirms to portray as legal, must be considered not as exceptional and needing to be codified, but making what is supposed to be covert into overt policy, despite all the ongoing attempts of the people's forces to oppose, subvert and condemn it.

Kevin Gately - circled - killed by police at this Red Lion Square anti-fascist protest, 1974.

It cannot be claimed that these Bills are for the people's security or the protection of rights. In reality, they are designed to wipe out or keep in check the adversaries of the person of state, defended by sword and crook. The legislation is justified by the alleged necessity of protecting this fiction of the person of state. The police powers can be seen as the powers behind the throne, the means by which the state attempts to maintain its rule against the movements of the working class and people for their rights, security and ultimately the achievement of their own decision-making power. The British model of the state, established after the bloody class struggle of the English Civil War, has as its function the safeguarding of the rule of the sovereign and all the powers of the sovereign against the rule of the mob. This is where the political police also play a key function to eliminate any threat to this rule using any means fair or foul.

No matter what reforms take place within this model, they are fundamentally imbued with anti-worker, anti-people and racist ideology as a matter of course and, since the onset of the Cold War in the 20th century, with anti-communism as well. It can be argued that one reason the powers-that-be are so determined that there should be no writing of history but their own writing, and at the very least advocate a so-called balance within historical accounts, is that they are desperate that the people at large should not draw the conclusions regarding the present from the historical facts of crimes against humanity, genocide, crimes of famine and starvation, torture, assassinations, massacres, rape and savagery against the colonised peoples as well as the people of Britain themselves when they failed to toe the line of the ruling class.

Recognising this state of affairs, the conclusion for the working class and people is how crucial it is at this time that the fight of the people for the affirmation of their rights takes centre stage. The issue is not to rescue what are called the liberal democratic institutions by falling back on methods that have been shown always to have recourse to crimes of various sorts conducted by political police and Prerogative Powers. The response can only be to fight in a manner that facilitates the emergence of a modern political personality that takes the form of political arrangements which involve the people in taking the decisions which affect their lives. It is to confront the dangers that face the working class and people by developing the independent political movement for the New, for a modern democracy. Such a modern democratic personality must emerge in the course of the fight to establish an Anti-War Government in Britain.


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