Rightwing response to police brutality


5:07 pm - April 15th 2009

by Sunny Hundal    


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In a rare example of agreement on an issue – I fully agree with what Graeme Archer has said on CentreRight about the latest incident, and earlier ones. He writes a list of recommendations I’d endorse and I believe should be pushed by all fair-minded people on the matter.

Update: Graeme responds below (caught by spam filter earlier)

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


1. Shatterface

Not only is this an excellent post from a site I would not expect to be a natural ally, but the responses from his readers – presumably conservative themselves – are generally in agreement.

After a week of tedious Left bloggers vs Right bloggers sniping this is almost heart warming.

Heh – I agree. It’s good to see at least there are some Conservatives who are exercised about preserving our civil liberties.

Blimey. I have to admit that this wasn’t the post I was expecting when I saw the headline…

Holy shit! A conservative post I can agree with.

I could nitpick about how it was Thatcher who…but I won’t – overall a good piece.

While it is true that the Tories have traditionally been apologists for the police there have always been those on the right (Peter Hitchens being a prime example) who have been uncomfortable with the para-militarisation of the police in recent years.

Excellent – and the comment thread (on balance) supportive of him too.

7. Shatterface

Tim (3): My thoughts exactly!

I was expecting an attack on some Right-wing blogger who was attempting to justify the police, not a hands-across-the-bloggosphere message of solidarity.

“I could nitpick about how it was Thatcher who…but I won’t – overall a good piece.”

Lets just say loads of people have had a go at turning the police into their own army, and now we all agree it is not a good idea.

I am also wondering whether we could introduce independent grand juries so that there is a greater chance of actual criminal charges being levelled against these thugs or their superiors in the case of systemic failings: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_jury

@ Nick –

I am also wondering whether we could introduce independent grand juries so that there is a greater chance of actual criminal charges being levelled against these thugs or their superiors in the case of systemic failings

I’d add my voice in agreement with that.

Good list. To which I’d add:

– An end to the provocative practice of “kettling” peaceful protesters as a tactic to deal with demonstrations where a “breach of the peace” is suspected. The practice is almost certainly a violation of human rights.

– An end to the use of catch-all anti-terror powers to harass and intimidate protesters.

I don’t believe for one minute that the Right is concerned about police brutality. They have always viewed the Police as their own private army to be used to beat the shit out of any one they consider as undesirables. Read the troll comments down the page on ‘New footage of police brutality uncovered” from the likes of Chavscum to see their obedient brownshirt support of authority.

As I have said before Tory’s only get up in arms about the police when one of their own gets held in a police station for 9 hours. When Mr Green was arrested they were cutting down sways of rain forest to scream ‘police state, police state.’

No, the Tory position on the police is that of Michael Howard. Give the police ever more power and turn a blind eye to their thuggery.

God why can’t there be more like him and less like that obnoxious little shit LFAT…?

13. DisgustedOfTunbridgeWells

Because genuine Conservatism requires adherence to principles like small state (for everyone, not just for me and my friends) and the free market (primarily for labour, the most important factor of production according to smith) which the likes of chavscum, LFAT and infact the vast majority of the tory party haven’t got the moral or intellectual dexterity for.

14. councilhousetory

11 – Sally

It was a tory government that introduce PACE, the most significant restriction on police power in modern times. It was a later tory government that began to dismantle PACE, with the CJPOA. Since then New Labour have pretty much destroyed PACE and turned the police, and ACPO particularly, into the police force we now have.

13 – DoTW

Indeed. Like I’ve said to many a tory, read Hayek’s ‘why I’m not a conservative’. Tories love Hayek right?

15. BuckleburyVoice

Nothing to argue with there.

The right do have a worrying tendency to act as apologists for Police brutality. Totally reasonable people who, totally reasonably, baulk at most of Brown’s abysmal policies treat the police in kid gloves.

There is a chain of command with Jacqui Smith and Gordon Brown at the top which the Right are still loathe to attack, by instinct.

But it appears, that judging by that post and the comments, that important questions are being asked. And not too soon either as there has been some terrible shit rained down on us by those reigning over us. And it looks like I know who’s going to be in charge next.

>I am also wondering whether we could introduce independent grand juries so that there is a greater chance of actual criminal charges being levelled against these thugs or their superiors in the case of systemic failings

Ooooh. Not on the US model, please. An excuse for a Grand Inquisitor to lead citizens by the nose. Remember Starr?

I know, I know – but the current problems with the federal grand jury system in the US is not intrinsic to them, just some of the more meddling with them.

Nick

>I know, I know – but the current problems with the federal grand jury system in the US is not intrinsic to them, just some of the more meddling with them.

Hmmmm.

Someone needs to write a post why England was wrong to abandon Grand Juries in 1933, why New Zealand was wrong to abolish them 1961, why Canada was wrong to abandon them in the 1970s, and why they should not have been adandoned in Australia.

Oh, and why they only exist in a minority of US States, despite the US habit of finding it almost impossible to repeal many obsolete laws from hundreds of years ago.

I think the ball is in your court, but I might ask the Head of Legal to do a post at my place for fun 🙂

(Apart from Grand Juries, I agree with pretty much everything else on this thread).

You are right. It needs a defence. Just not right now…

Thank you for the link to the blog and for the mostly kind comments here. I most certainly agree with Guy’s suggested two additions in (10): end kettling and abolish all anti”terrorist” legislation which is deployed against non-terrorists. You know, people like Walter Wolfgang and Damian Green.

I think that to construct a paradigm for policing should not necessarily be a party tribal issue; it is in the interest of neither the Right nor the Left to have a police service which treats legitimate demonstration as an excuse to unleash thugs with metal batons. To be honest my view of the police was altered for good when Harry Stanley was unlawfully killed (I do not agree with the judicial review which overturned that coroner court verdict) and was sealed for good by the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes. The death of that wholly innocent human being, in blood-chilling circumstance, was made sinister by the deployment of spin in the public space: you are all familiar with the litany of lies which was fed to the media in the aftermath. Nothing structural has happened at the Met as a consequence of that death, and I find this problematic (to put it mildly).

To be less serious. I was predicting that my post would attract outrage on ConHome, not because of the comments on policing, but because of my slightly sarcastic comment on the banks. So I am pleased that so many other Tories wrote positive comments in support. ConHome attracts Tory readers across our tribe, from the social authoritarian to the libertarian to the hopelessly wet liberal-green hippy (that’ll be me). Only a couple wrote words to the effect that the police must be supported come what may.

Entertainingly I see that

‘The female protester who was struck by a police officer during G20 clashes has employed the PR guru Max Clifford to deal with media requests for interviews, it has emerged. ”

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article6099525.ece

Turning capitalism’s machine against itself I suppose?!

cjcjc @21:

Interestingly enough, when I read that in the Metro this morning my immediate response was “Well, you’ve lost my support as of right now.”

… People talking to the media is one thing. People selling their story in this kind of Goody-two-shoes way is quite irritating to me, particularly when they’re seen as ‘on my side’; because it implies to a healthy chunk of chavscums and letter-writing-tories that ‘my side’ is in it purely for the money and celebrity. Since they already think this, how do I answer that in a way they’ll listen to?

I suspect, if I’m being honest, that part of my response was jealousy. Since I get tarred with the middle-class brush and yet there is no way in hell I could afford to hire Max Clifford if I found myself in her shoes, I have a gut reaction which says “if you can afford to hire a publicist you’re far too rich for me to see you as ‘one of us’.” It does give me a useful empathy for the chavscum point of view, but it also disturbs me to find that kind of prejudice in myself. I must deal with that.

Sally I don’t believe for one minute that the Right is concerned about police brutality. etc

Sally, did you actually read the article?

You are, without doubt, the most completely blinkered individual ever to post on this site. Comment after comment comes out as if you were writing in the Socialist Worker re 1977.

Either that or you are a very subtle Tory troll.

If so, please admit it.

Are you sure you actually *hire* Max Clifford upfront? I was always under the impression he was more of an agent.

John Q:

“Interestingly enough, when I read that in the Metro this morning my immediate response was “Well, you’ve lost my support as of right now.””

Perhaps that was the response the paper was after in reporting things in this way.

Neil @24:

Yes: but in order to interest him there has to be at least six zeros moving around, or his percentage wouldn’t be high enough for his secretary’s personal assistant to call you back. Therefore, someone is making millions off of this, and I instinctively feel that cheapens and undermines the genuine need for this woman’s case to be taken seriously and dealt with as an example of police brutality. It opens the door to right-wing responses belittling her as an attention-seeker, and makes it very hard indeed to respond to such accusations.

5cc @25:

Yes, I suspect you’re right. It was interesting to find that I am prejudiced against people who can afford to hire publicity agents but who claim to be normal people. It’s a prejudice in myself that I now need to remove. In my defense I can only say that I am prepared and able to do so.

Btw, are you half of a punk band? 🙂

I think Neil’s right about Max C – while if you’re rich already you might hire him for damage limitation, his main skill is turning fame into money for people who don’t have any to start with.

And she has absolutely every right to do this – just because she’s been beaten up by some coppers doesn’t morally oblige her to be a moral saint and use her fame to support our cause.

(personally, if beaten up by coppers I’d rather drag them over the coals than take the money – but if I were on the minimum wage and/or had major debts, then if anyone looked down on me for using it as a chance to sort out my life, I’d tell them resoundingly to piss off)

Hmm. If police are citizens, shouldn’t they have the same rights to film people in public, as non-citizens? I’ve elaborated.

Yeah, if I was in her position, I would be very tempted to milk it! The law was made to defend real people, not saints.

Do you need to be rich to hire Clifford? I would have thought he would be on a percentage.

33. Matt Munro

I can’t believe that anyone on here is surprised that most of the “demonstrators” were in fact, (as illustrated by the slapped protestor) soft left trustafarians, doing their mandatory couple of years of ostentatious, anti-establishment designer “rebellion” before cashing in their degrees, and daddy’s connections at the beeb, to get a career in the meeja and going to live in Notting Hill with a merchant banker.
As I’ve said before on LC, the middle classes have even taken over public disorder, which is now done with a latte in one hand, and a mobile with lawyer/PR on speed dial in the other. The unwitting irony is excruciating.

“The unwitting irony is excruciating.”

Not as excruciating as watching the man who wrote this:

http://www.liberalconspiracy.org/2009/03/24/tories-and-inheritence-tax/#comment-39102

Pissing and moaning about ‘trustafarians’.

As far as I know, it is already a requirement that police have to have their identity number displayed at all times.

Aren’t there some kinds of police that don’t have to? (FIT team maybe? I really should remember, but I can’t.)

Regardless, all ought to have to display them on demonstrations.

#13 What is genuine Conservatism? Where can I read this doctrine that I supposedly adhere to?

#15 Nobody has defended the unprovoked attack on Ian Thomlinson. I want to see the copper prosecuted. However, I have no sympathy with leftie agitators who seek to provoke/attack the Police and should fuck-off back to their coastal towns and leave the Met to get on with catching crooks like the scumbags who recently burgled and trashed my in-laws house, not dealing with pathetic, self-righteous and attention seeking protesters.

All this protester/ police hype is immaterial to everyone bar the usual lefties and the London media elite. If you know anyone outiside of your leftie bubble, just ask them. They are concerned about crime and the inability of Police to target the criminals, the justice system to prosecute and rehabilitate the offenders and the pc nonsense that has made the Police so ineffectual. For this reason the Police have lost the respect of many ordinary working/middle class people. However, the coverage of recent events has been great for the Police, as it pulls such people back on their side. The aim of the militant left is to undermine policing and authority so that they can increase their protesting and disruption unabated. The impending energy crisis, climate change and recession have given the militants an opportunity. They know the Tories will not stand for their shit and they are generally hated by the public, so a slash and burn and imploding Labour administration may give into them.

Right and left may have different levels of enthusiasm in pursuing the McBride and G20 police brutality stories, respectively. However, the stories themselves have exemplified how technology is answering the age old question: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

http://gawragbag.blogspot.com/2009/04/new-answer-to-old-question.html

I mostly agree with Sunny and the ConHome article, so given no one else has done it, I’m going to nitpick the actualy suggestions, rather than rehash old arguments. I, pretty much, agree with all the proposals except:

Borough commanders should be answerable to a directly elected borough police “sherriff” and be sackable by that elected representative.

How is this “sheriff” to be elected? How is this single, lone person to be able to represent the diverse spread of opinion and community within a typical London borough? How are they to be accountable?

I have a deep distrust of directly elected executive officials—they are accountable only to the electorate, and only at election time, and then only if there’s a voting system that actually works (as opposed to the BSVS that Hennessey concocted for English mayoral elections), and then only if the electorate get involved and actually care.

What happens when the police start being nasty to groups opposed by the elected “sheriff”, say, for example, the electoral situation in Barking and Dagenham gets worse and a loon like Barnbrook gets elected?

Given that London boroughs, and indeed most other areas, already have elected people who are theoretically in charge of supervising their area, why not give such clear powers to them, through a police oversight committee elected from Council and meeting regularly and publicly?

Oh, you mean councils aren’t trusted by a lot of people either? Why not fix that problem instead of inventing another power grab likely to be won by populists that have no real accountability on budget or other issues?

Elected sheriffs are a Tory policy proposed as a sop to localist feelings, just as elected mayors are a sop created by Labour. Give real actual powers to councils, and make them properly democratic by following the Scottish example and fixing the voting method instead.

Other than that, yes, a nice little sensible list.

What happens when the police start being nasty to groups opposed by the elected “sheriff”, say, for example, the electoral situation in Barking and Dagenham gets worse and a loon like Barnbrook gets elected?

My answer to such examples is that it should then spur all right-minded people to also then get involved and next time ensure that someone like Barnbrook wouldn’t be elected. I don’t believe is not trusting the public. If bad decisions get made then people learn from them, unless there’s some inherent fault in the system.

Having a single elected official in charge of hiring and firing senior staff but not budget setting and only responsible for that one thing would be a fault in the system.

Far far better to devolve the responsibility to Primary Local Authorities and give them both real budgetary accountability and freedom of decision making—making them properly democratic would also assist.

MatGB

>Oh, you mean councils aren’t trusted by a lot of people either? Why not fix that problem instead of inventing another power grab likely to be won by populists that have no real accountability on budget or other issues?

I go for that. Devolve enough power down the line – including reducing central funding from ~75% to a lot less – to make local councils be taken seriously.

I’d also make them smaller first, though.

The downside of a major decentralisation is that we have to take “postcode lotteries” on the chin. Would that be acceptable? What would all the politicians campaign about 😕

Matt

“The aim of the militant left is to undermine policing and authority so that they can increase their protesting and disruption unabated.”

You’re so right, Chavscum. God forbid that they change police tactics, thus making it easier to protest without having one’s face sprayed across a policeman’s rod. What a blow to our democracy that would be…

The downside of a major decentralisation is that we have to take “postcode lotteries” on the chin.

If they’re locally elected and locally accountable, then it’s no longer a lottery; you voted for the decision making, it’s your postcode that’s affected.

It’s absolutely right that areas like, for example, Torbay, where I’m from, spend more money on care for the elderly, and have, for example, little to no local provision for sickle cell anaemia, as the demographics require it. But they’d also have to be able to get services in if needed. Local accountable control removes the lottery.

Would that be acceptable? What would all the politicians campaign about

Local politicians would have to campaign on two points—firstly what they’d do differently with the budget (you know how little control LAs have on their budgets currently, it’s farcicle), and second they’d campaign on comparitors—”Lib Dem controlled Anytown has much better provision of X and Y and at lower cost” etc etc.

I’m not sure about directly elected sheriffs either. We might end up seeing a focus on policing areas where an existing sheriff has a vote to get out, at the exclusion of other areas.

>If they’re locally elected and locally accountable, then it’s no longer a lottery; you voted for the decision making, it’s your postcode that’s affected.

I agree, but national charities and campaigns wouldn’t. How to handle, e.g., different standards of provision in adjacent areas. Take – as one highly emotive area – the Amnesty campaign about “inconsistent service provision for sexual assault victims”. Every time something like that wins a national standard, local autonomy loses.

I did more thinking here:

http://www.mattwardman.com/blog/2008/10/10/subsidiarity-autonomy-and-occams-razor-applied-to-government/

and here:

http://www.mattwardman.com/blog/2008/10/18/off-with-their-heads-time-for-a-significant-real-devolution-of-power-devolving-england-vi/

It was part of a cross-party series of 8 articles. 2nd PDF down:

http://www.mattwardman.com/blog/publications/

Matt

A surprising and well written piece. I would though take issue with one statement:

“The police, particularly in London, appear to have forgotten that they police only with our consent. They are not the armed wing of the state.”

I think that line has been crossed but not so far that they couldn’t be brought back to it. Time is short though!

Hmm. If police are citizens, shouldn’t they have the same rights to film people in public, as non-citizens? I’ve elaborated.

It depends on the use to which it will be put.

If their action disproportionately interferes with our freedoms and rights* then they should not act in that way.

* it seems to me a national database of protestors (and journalists who attend protests) violates the European Convention on Human Rights.

Take – as one highly emotive area – the Amnesty campaign about “inconsistent service provision for sexual assault victims”. Every time something like that wins a national standard, local autonomy loses.

Agreed, but one of the things that we’d need to do is get people, and MPs, out of the “write to your MP” attitude—national targets get set because MPs are the only people with any real influence over the real decision makers.

If the budgetary decisions were genuinely made locally then national politicians would have to bat such things on to local politicians instead, and it could be written into codes of conduct in the same way that they’re already required to pass on issues of non-constituents.

So campaigns such as the Amnesty one would still happen, but they’d concentrate more on getting people to put pressure on their local Cllrs—who’re likely to be more responsive anyway, as they’ve got electorates and majorities in the 1000s/100s instead of nearly 100K electorats, etc.

As an example of centralised budgeting—I recently had to go through my LAs budget, approx £450million. Of which, about £70million is from council tax, the rest through centrally provided methods in some way or other, and most of their budget is mandated from the centre, they’ve only got about £10million of discretionary spend total, to cover a massive amount of provision. Utterly farcicle.

Change that, and while the media culture might take awhile to catch up, it’ll make a difference.

Back to the topic.

Regardless of all the McBride of Satan stuff, the agenda we need to be back on – Left, Right and Three-DImensional, is picking up the Modern Liberty agenda and applying it to the coming elections. We don’t want to lose momentum.

We are begining to see a lot of chinks in the door – on the policing and teh terrorists, but also on databases, surveillance, ID cards and other areas. And also on the “Open Politics” agenda – MP Expenses (is the Paul Flynn change of view sigificant?) and “sunlight on the spin doctors” (which I think is a strategic favour to the Reform of Labour movement, but I don’t expect anyone to admit it).

It’s taken a couple of years and more of trench-warfare to have even this impact, even all working on parallel tracks.

Is it perhaps tIme to put the shoulder back to the wheel on these common agendas, even if other disagreements continue. We are probably going to start looking at the downside of “Safeguarding” and link it in.

Could we start with the Freedom Bill or whatever we are going to call it, again?

Matt

In the spirit of my last comment, do you have anything mapped out, Guy?

Guano @36:

yes: that’s why they covered their numbers, and their faces, and indeed (reportedly) switched numbers with officers posted on other pickets specifically to create plausible deniability and reasonable doubt.

The issue with the way police deliberately obfuscated their own (legally required) identification numbers is one of the best pieces of evidence that at a fairly high level, orders had been given that meant officers were going to break the law.

Chavscum @38:

#15 Nobody has defended the unprovoked attack on Ian Thomlinson.

But this is simply not true. Lots of people have, including you for precisely as long as you thought he was a protester.

The attitude of yourself, and various fellow travellers on here, has consistantly been that firstly had he been a protester he’d have bloody well deserved it and secondly, since he may have had a drink he was clearly antagonising the police. By wearing plain clothes. … whatever that means.

For this reason the Police have lost the respect of many ordinary working/middle class people.

Isn’t it interesting how the middle-class are ok as long as they putatively agree with you? Otherwise they’re just ‘trustafarians’…

Matt Wardman @43:

Distribution of autonomy from the core of the network to the edge. Absolutely! Hear, hear.

Matt GB @45:

No; take the example of London where I live in a different borough from where I work. It’s still a lottery; in order to live next to work I might have to move to a much less pleasant borough to live in. As it happens, I’ve got the opposite problem: I can’t move nearer to work because someone on my salary can’t afford to live in the area where I work. The area I live in is considerably shoddier. The government may think it’s reasonable to expect people to commute for 1.5 hrs a day, but it isn’t when they frequently finish work at 2am and have to be back in by 10 the next day. So, yes, it is still a lottery; people don’t live in one parish their whole lives any more, and if the basic necessities of life are determined entirely locally, without any sense of communal standard, then there are too many ways that a normal (i.e. not rich) person is just going to get screwed.

FreethinkerUK @48:

We’ve been hanging on a pendulum swinging across that line since the Peterloo Massacre in 1819. Regarding the Met, particularly: the modern issues with policing of dissent specifically grew out of the discovery by Thatcher in the 1980s that as long as you pick your targets you can win by direct violence in British politics and the rest won’t care. Trustafarians are the group currently being slated, so you can fuck them up with impunity but as soon as it’s a “real” person, you have to have an inquiry… etc.

53. DisgustedOfTunbridgeWells

#38

Genuine Conservatism is fairly easily defined as whatever US republicans espouse when they find themselves out of office, usually after 4/8 years of doing the exact opposite.

If we had more than half a dozen Conservative MP’s with a spine, Clarke would likely be PM.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    New post: Rightwing response to police brutality http://tinyurl.com/d264za

  2. Gareth Winchester

    RT @libcon: New post: Rightwing response to police brutality http://tinyurl.com/d264za I agree completely

  3. Liberal Conspiracy

    New post: Rightwing response to police brutality http://tinyurl.com/d264za

  4. Robert Sharp » Blog Archive » Filming the Police, Filming Us

    […] the CentreRight blog (via LibCon), Graeme Archer has posted some ideas for reform of the police in light of the appalling Ian […]





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