Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Scorched-earth social policy defended by the police

Was the kettling of students on recent demonstrations a look, a glimpse (coup d'oeil) into the future of a time to come or has it arrived.

Is modern policing about fighting crime, or is it about holding in place the economic and political system under which we all live.

These are simple and not complicated questions that must be rattling around in the recesses of many a mind.

We should all take note and stock of this now over-familiar and overuse of the police, and of recent facts, that peaceful protesters were subjected to, horrific violence, including: horse-charges, beatings with truncheons, by police dressed and wearing balaclavas and personal identity numbers covered; in addition they were ‘kettled’ by the police, and detained against their will, some until very late at night causing difficulty travelling home safely.  

A student from Middlesex University, Alfie Meadows, had to undergo brain surgery after being hit with a police truncheon, and another student, Tahmeena Bax, was beaten unconscious. Both are sill looking for witnesses. The documented abuse of a journalist, Jody Macintyre, who was dragged by riot police from his wheelchair, is sidestepped and unexplained by both police and politicians alike.  

I believe that this violent overreaction and excessive use of force by the Metropolitan Police is an affront to our democratic right to protest. And worryingly, there will be many more protests and demonstrations in the months to come in opposition to the cuts, and therefore we should all be mindful of their capacity and capability.

This month in South Yorkshire and would you believe in middle of what were the South Yorkshire coalfields before its wilful and deliberate destruction by the Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher 25 years ago, a new £7 million police training centre has opened in Manvers. The state-of-the-art complex now has unrivalled critical incident and public order training facilities, and according to Chief Constable Meredydd Hughes:

“Built in the mining communities at the heart of our county, it demonstrates our resilience and our ability to meet the challenges we face in the future. It comes at a time when there is increasing demand for training and sharing good practice.”  

Hughes’ words are brazenly misanthropical. It was police, on horseback and wielding shields and batons, who were used against the miners in the 1984-1985 strike. Miners were jailed, villages raided at night and families intimidated.
After the strike ended entire communities were left decimated. The miners at Manvers Main were among the most militant in Yorkshire. A massive police operation was mobilised to ensure that the colliery’s sole scab could make it past the picket.
The decision to build the police complex on this site has a definite element of spite attached to it.

The police will be tasked with suppressing rising opposition to government cuts that will wipe out every social gain made since the end of the Second World War.
The ruling elite is only too aware that by imposing this type of scorched-earth social policy on families already suffering major hardships it will provoke mass unrest. Even before the full effects of the cuts to social services are felt, the continuous rise in utility bills and food and petrol prices is making it virtually impossible for millions to keep their heads above water.

It is for this reason that an expensive retraining of the police in public order operations is required. The government is cutting back on police numbers, causing disquiet in some quarters. It is trying to encourage wardens and unpaid volunteers to do some of the more mundane work, allowing officers to concentrate on training in the latest weapons handling and covert methods of policing, with the aid of advanced technology.

Don’t be surprised in the New Year if the class struggle takes a turn for the worst because of the deployment of a police force that will use valence to defend a rotten system.

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