Sunday, 12 December 2010

Its time that the Met Police were brought under democratic control

On Thursday 9th December the ConDem government managed to pass legislation increasing tuition fees to up to £9,000 per year in the face of student protests. The protests were once again mainly peaceful and good natured. There was some damage to property around Parliament Square including the Treasury and the Supreme Court. As usual, the media had a field day, focussing almost entirely on damage to property. But something has changed. There was a reasonably widespread questioning of police tactics, which I have no doubt provoked much of the violent response.

I watched a couple of hours of live coverage on BBC and Sky and it looked to me that the Met Police had come with an agenda to break a few heads - which they succeeded in doing. One of the protestors, Alfie Meadows, was beaten unconscious by police and had to be taken to hospital. Incredibly, according to reports, the police objected to him being treated at the same hospital as some of their own officers and tried to have him turned away. What have we come to in this country where this sort of barbaric behaviour by police officers can be tolerated?

This is the same police force that lied about the death of Jean Charles De Menezes and the death of Ian Tomlinson and recently kept schoolchildren kettled for nine hours in freezing temperatures without food water or access to toilets. It seems to me that the Met Police are out of any kind of democratic control and are becoming a law unto themselves. Of course, I wouldn't expect our democratically elected government to do anything about that - that would be too much to expect.

The kind of tactics we have seen from the Metropolitan Police cause problems rather than solve them. High profile aggressive policing of the kind we saw last week is not the way to police demonstrations. Even the 'good folk' of the Countryside Alliance experienced that during their demonstration. Of course a cynic might argue that the Met have a vested interest in this type of policing. The more violence they can provoke the better they can argue for more resources and draconian powers. If our current set of 'waste-of-space' parliamentarians (with one or two exceptions) continue to let the Met Police behave in this way it is inevitable that the police will come to be seen as merely an arm of the state - which in truth they are - and that they will end up alienating a whole generation of young people, their parents and supporters.

We have lived for many years with the fiction that the police are there to protect us but their real role is to defend the interests of the British State which are the same as the interests of international neoliberal capitalism. I witnessed that first hand myself during the Miner's Strike, and it has no place in a democracy.


Anonymous said...

I wasn't alive when the miners were on strike - I've only ever heard of coal. Never seen it!

Last week was was great.


Howard Thorp said...

If it goes on like that someone is going to get killed