When the police march against job losses – we should join in #solidarity


5:52 pm - January 12th 2011

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contribution by Steve Sumpter

I have been very vocal in condemning the police for their actions at the student protests late last year. I wrote in some detail about police violence and about their alleged use of an old van as bait for protesters.

But if and when members of the police go on strike and march in protest against budget cuts and loss of jobs, I think those of us in the anti-cuts movement should be protesting alongside them.

The police do an important job in our society. They aren’t all that effective, they aren’t without their defects, but I believe that many police joined up to help people. Yes, some police are violent thugs, some go looking for violence. Since violence is what sells the news, that gets talked about, but most police aren’t like that.

Some police procedures are unjust and illiberal. Apart from kettling and stifling the right to protest, they also have Forward Intelligence Teams taking photographs of innocent people for unofficial police records.

They arrest people for the sole reason of taking their details which they would not otherwise be allowed to do, then “de-arrest” them but keep the details.

They keep DNA and fingerprints of those cleared of crimes. I think it likely that those procedures are a result of orders from the top, and to counter them needs a change in the attitudes of police administration, or perhaps simply a change of those at the top.

The few nasty police, the ones that like violence, they are likely to be the ones doing things like hassling photographers when they have no right to and making up laws on the spot to support their way of thinking and intimidate. Those are the bullies. Those are the ones that we want out, but right now our fight is elsewhere.

The anti-cuts movement should march and protest in support of the police. Those police are ordinary people with families and rents and mortgages.

At previous protests the crowd have shouted “Your jobs are next!” to try and gain police support. Well now their jobs are next, and it’s time to do for them what they wouldn’t do for us.
#solidarity

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A longer version is at Latent Existence

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Reader comments


Well I for one will not be marching with them. They were quite happy to align themselves with the Thatcher Right and help destroy the mining industry and massively destroy the power of workers rights through the Trade Unions. They were also quite happy to do the bidding of the right wing fuel protestors, letting them block motorways and bring city centres to a stand still.

Yet, while all the time they have had such distain for other workers, and been the private army of the bosses, they have refused to reform themselves, and have continually protected the bad apples within their ranks. If some of them are going to lose their jobs, (which I doubt) I for one will not care a jot. Fuck um!

I too have no intention of supporting the police should they find themselves on the receiving end of cuts. They’re perfectly happy to do all they can to disrupt others’ right to protest so I see no reason why we should be expected to rush to their aid when they decided to protest. Let us not forget the kettling of thousands of people for hours in freezing conditions or the brutal treatment that many peaceful protesters received.

What Sally and George said!

” . . . To try and gain police support.”

Whatever world do you live in? The police may indeed march against cuts to their jobs – when Nelson gets his eye back – and by the same unlikely token – the Household Cavalry may march against cuts in Brasso allowance. It’s all bullshine and moonshine. But while we are fantasising thus – who would be likely to march in support of the police – who are their natural allies? I merely ask. The BNP? The Women’s Institute? The Monday Club? The Empire Loyalists? The Barbara Cartland Appreciation Society? The Countryside Alliance? The Freemasons? The Antediluvian Order of Kettlers? The brain boggles with possibilities!

5. Prince Hamlet

Sally is spot on. Sorry, but the police are rotten to the core & it’s not just one bad apple it’s the whole stinking orchard.

A police march should be kettled by students.

I agree mostly with the OP. I’m not naive enough to think that by marching with them the police are suddenly going to change the tactics they use to police demonstrations (although it might give the occasional individual pause for thought). The limited political gain on offer is probably more with showing wider society that protesters are nice people who care about others, even those who persecute them.

I also think there’s value in and of itself in showing solidarity, and I don’t like the idea that we choose who to defend based on whether we like them or not.

Tim F @ 7

Nicely thought out Tim – We shouldn’t base our choice of defence for protesters on whether we like them or not – should we? Or should we? Shall we march for free speech for Neo Fascists? – It wouldn’t mean that we like them – merely that we are upholding a lily-white principle – without prejudice.

I will absolutely be supporting the police if they choose to protest.

We can’t turn around now and start picking and choosing which cuts to oppose – that’s motivated by self-interest, which isn’t what this movement is meant to be based on. Whatever your thoughts about the police, letting people be put out of work as the result of unnecessary cuts by the government is something to which we’re supposed to be ideologically opposed.

Generalisations that suggest that all members of the police are in some way “the enemy” are exactly the sorts of divisions that lead to violence at protests. On December 9th, long before any kettling, or horse charges, or any real violence on either side, I watched a kid pick up a small stone in parliament square, and threw it right at the head of a mounted police officer. And it hit the officer, who fortunately was wearing a nice big riot helmet, and barely flinched. But that sort of pre-judgement, that all people in uniform are the enemy, is toxic to a movement based on pluralism and inclusivity.

(particularly when the first grievance you list against the police is something that took place almost thirty years ago – how many beat officers were on the force back then?)

I make no excuses for individuals who are violent toward protesters without cause. But those people need to be dealt with individually, rather than writing off all police officers. Not to mention civilian staff, working in offices, or on the 999 phone line, who will also be affected by these cuts, and who certainly don’t get involved in kettling etc. Personally, I can’t condone the damage done to the livelihoods of one group while protesting alongside another.

10. George McLean

The police haven’t asked for solidarity, so the question doesn’t arise. If they did, we should ask “solidarity over what?”. I suspect it won’t be over more reasonable police tactics than were displayed at the student protests recently, or over abandoning the use of agents provocateurs in green protest groups.

Similarly, @ 8. Mulligrubs. Why on earth would socialists want to march in support of a neo-fascist’s right to spout racism and division? While you may wish to oppose what they say but defend their right to say it, I suggest a better position is to oppose what they say and recognise we have no obligation to give them a platform for doing so.

We could march in solidarity with the police – the police of the kettling, the infiltration, the beating of peaceful protestors to (literally) within an inch of their lives – and they might be grateful for the support.

But come the next demonstration, they will go back to being effectively the politicised paramilitary force that they (more or less willlingly) became in the 1970s.

The wisest course of action might be to sit on our hands and see what happens to them.

BTW, who would police a police protest? The EDL?

I believe in the right to protest. So if the police do march, I won’t try and stop them. However, I will be very tempted to attend and hold up a sign saying “we told you so”.

@11 Robocop, if poor sci-fi movies from the 80’s are to be believed.

@Steve Sumpter

I am 100% in agreement with you.

The kind of us-and-them thinking proposed by many above is only going to escalate violence.

After the student protests on the day of the tuition fees vote, I read a very powerful post suggesting that we could learn from the work of the South African Independent Electoral Commission in trying to build a new model based on dialogue not confrontation:

Their starting point was: Everyone is a human being. Simple. All talk of ‘fascist pigs’/ ‘kaffirs’ was forbidden. It is impossible to manage (as opposed to oppress) a large group of people if their humanity has been forgotten. Another starting assumption was that most people do not like committing violence. Including policemen.

http://langtrygirl.blogspot.com/2010/12/demonstrations.html

The police are people too.

Whatever terrible things have been done in recent memory by members of the police force – and there are many – we reduce ourselves by refusing to recognise a shared humanity and a shared status as victims of the cuts.

George Mclean @ 10.

Sorry George – I was being sarcastic about the comment @ 7 – tim f. I couldn’t resist it – please read 7 and see what I mean. I will have to carry an irony warning on any future posts. Yours for the revolution. Mulligrubs

Most people especially the young go into the Police Force to do good and most believe that they can make a difference. The reality is that they find themselves submerged into a profession where they are faced with pure evil day in and day out, they see things that have a real psychological impact on their lives and how they think, in some cases the job does change them and that is understandable. They live in a world where truth and trust is non existant but the reality is, they put their lives on the line for us, no matter who we are, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week and all we have to do, is pick up the telephone and they are there to protect all of us, no matter who we are. I am not in the Police Force but I know many people that are, please believe me when I can say with my hand on my heart ” 99% of Police Officers are good Honest Brave women and men and they mean well but have a job where there is no sympathy or thanks”. The Police have to protect Politicians and Police Demonstrations, it is their job and they would rather prefer having an easy day and not being Piggy in the Middle as to speak. We all need to rise above our differences if it means standing upto this Evil Coalition, we all need to speak with one voice and be heard loud and clear. I for one would hold my head high and March with the Police.

George W Potter @ 12.

Now, now George – you must resist temptations of this outrageous sort. You know that the Lib Dems must keep to the middle of the road and face both ways at once – you mustn’t become politically committed and provocative or your ‘moderation in all things’ licence will be withdrawn. This time it will be a caution only. Consider yourself bound over.

I know that in the 1920’s or so a law was passed so that the Police are prohibited by the law to strike. Seeing as chaos ensued when they did so. But can the Police actually protest? And how would such a protest even be policed itself?

To be honest, I more foresee the Police not protesting but looking in some other means to promote their own goods, although what currently evades myself.

I also completely agree with the comments above, the police are rotten, if they were to protest they should be treated in their own in-humane way, however illiberal that sounds it may cause such a feeling in them as “empathy”. However more likely would be further revenge.

19. Daniel Factor

Those on the Far-Left (the SWP etc) see the police as fascist pig tools of the state who are there to protect the property of the rich minority from the poor majority.
They want rid of any kind of police force so any kind of cuts to policing would be welcomed. Also they don’t see working class people who join the police as workers at all but “class traitors” who have sided with the oppressive forces against the working class.
I wonder how many of them would never ever ever call the police if they were a victim of crime. Mind you they would probably see the person who commited the crime against them as a victim of society and would conclude that to call the police would be an act of betrayal of solidarity.

James @ 9

“We can’t turn around now and start picking and choosing which cuts to oppose – that’s motivated by self-interest, which isn’t what this movement is meant to be based on. Whatever your thoughts about the police, letting people be put out of work as the result of unnecessary cuts by the government is something to which we’re supposed to be ideologically opposed.”

Completely agree. Are people so short sighted that they’d rather gloat than take a golden opportunity to show the public at large that we (the small we) are actually all in this together against this government’s agenda?

I agree with the OP. If we are anti-cuts, we should oppose the cuts wherever possible.

But if and when members of the police go on strike and march in protest against budget cuts and loss of jobs, I think those of us in the anti-cuts movement should be protesting alongside them.

A touch academic this, as the police in the UK are prohibited from taking strike action.

Paul @18

“To be honest I more foresee the Police not protesting but looking in some other means to promote their own goods, although what – currently evades myself.”

There is at least one precedent of Police ‘looking at some other means’ (of protest) as you put it. When Merlin Reece was Home Secretary – the police fed. were revolting – ha! – over some point of high principle – important at the time. When Merlin Reece addressed the Police conference – the flat-foot delegates sat and ignored him defiantly – some even read newspapers as he addressed them! The country was shaken to it’s foundations, all systems of transport ground to a halt. The church called for a state of calm as the government of the day fell to be replaced by an emergency administration led by Bow Street Moseley of the Yard. Order was eventually restored and the ring leaders were presented at court and given the Royal Victorian Order of the Daily Mail. Strangely this seems to have been written out of history – presumably to save the blushes and otherwise unswervingly loyal record of the Police.
So beware Joe Public – next time you ask Constable Plod for the time of day he may wilfully give you the wrong time as an act of protest. Do not underestimate their resolve.

The opportunity to take the piss and say, “We told you so” must mitigate pretty strongly in favor of joining the police in solidarity against the cuts.

More seriously, the gulf any officer will have had to cross in order to even consider joining an anti-cuts protest is huge. Their heads would be spinning! When someone’s concrete world view has been shattered they are more likely to look at other “certainties” and reconsider them.

For some reason I can’t help thinking of Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin.

@6
I totally agree. 🙂

Tim J @ 22

If you follow the link to the guardian by clicking on the words that you quoted, you will see that the police have marched on a previous occasion and the prospect of them doing so has been raised.

From the Guardian article:
“Paul McKeever, the Police Federation chairman, told MPs today that he could not rule out a repeat of the police protest marches three years ago when 20,000 angry officers brought Westminster and Whitehall to a standstill over a failure to backdate their pay.”

Mulligrubs @ 4

“Whatever world do you live in?”

This one. Which world do you live in?

Many members of the police were against tuition fee rises and are against the cuts. I have seen several people mention that police at recent protests told them they supported the protesters.

The only way to change things is to gain support from the public and to put pressure on government ministers to change their policies. Holding grudges and vitriol like that seen in the first two comments will not help convince anyone to oppose the cuts.

‘Nicely thought out Tim – We shouldn’t base our choice of defence for protesters on whether we like them or not – should we? Or should we? Shall we march for free speech for Neo Fascists? – It wouldn’t mean that we like them – merely that we are upholding a lily-white principle – without prejudice.’

I support the police’s *right* to protest much as I’d support the *right* of Islamists or the EDL to protest – but no fucking way would I stand beside them.

Policing is one area we can afford to cut back on – so long as we cut back on the illiberal laws they have enforced, often brutally.

‘I agree with the OP. If we are anti-cuts, we should oppose the cuts wherever possible.’

Would you oppose the scrapping of ID cards and the National Database on the same grounds?

“Policing is one area we can afford to cut back on”

I just don’t understand how it’s possible for somebody to willingly allow unnecessary cuts to bring about their longer term ideological objectives.

Isn’t that *exactly* what the Tories themselves are doing?

If the police need reforming, then push for reform. But don’t stand by while their funding is cut, and jobs are lost, thinking that this will somehow bring about the improvement you’re after.

It boils down to this – if you use the cuts to further your own aims, then you’re no better than the government.

‘It boils down to this – if you use the cuts to further your own aims, then you’re no better than the government.’

So if the government proposed bringing our troops home from Afghanistan you’d oppose it just to oppose the cuts? You’d oppose the early release of prisoners on the grounds being liberal might save money? How about cutting back on consultants? Wasteful spending on the royal wedding?

Is a knee-jerk opposition to each and every cut the best you can come up with?

Steven Sumpter, the police marched, they didn’t go on strike. Tim said they are prohibited from striking – he didn’t say they are prohibited from marching. The word “strike” is not mentioned in the Guardian article.

34. George McLean

@15. Mulligrubs – guess I picked the wrong week to stop recognising irony!

#29

I appreciate where you’re coming from here, but cutting the numbers of police will not stop them from bashing protesters over the head, intimidating them outside meetings, collecting information on them or infiltrating campaign groups. Those things will always be prioritised over, you know, actual crime. It will just result in an even shabbier response to crime and anti-social behaviour inflicted on vulnerable groups in unfashionable communities.

Mulligrub – a bit disingenuous to bring freedom of speech into it. My argument wasn’t based on free speech.

ukliberty – My mistake. I assumed the marching would be while striking.

@ 9

We can’t turn around now and start picking and choosing which cuts to oppose – that’s motivated by self-interest, which isn’t what this movement is meant to be based on.

Cobblers!

The fact is that we need more cuts. Getting the troops out of Afghanistan is a cut. Scrapping Trident is a cut. Stripping down the DNA database is a cut. Scrapping the ID card scheme (one of the sensible things this government has done) is a cut. There are plenty more where those came from.

@37 – every single one of those things is some sort of project, rather than an existing public service. I don’t really see how they’re comparable.

Any anti-cut movement that picks and chooses which causes based on its own internal ideology will never win broader support. Without reciprocal solidarity, every narrow-interest group will just continue to act alone.

Anyone ever seen a breakdown of police voting intentions? My guess would be that they are pretty reflective of national trends, so that over a third would probably vote Labour (they are normal people you know, and prone to the same mistakes… (couldn’t resist, sorry!)).

But it says a lot about some (so-called – it’s a bit unfair on the real ones) socialists that the idea of treating people as individuals rather than as someone who does a job seems beyond them. You do realise that there is no difference between classifying someone simply by their job and classifying someone simply by their skin colour – it is stupidity, ignorance and prejudicial, and designed to allow the person doing to express their own superiority…

40. Prince Hamlet

@38

So if the gov decided to scrap Trident tomorrow, putting 100s (1000s?) out of work, would you protest for them to keep it? Get real.

#40 – actually I oppose many defence cuts. Some towns are dominated by the defence industry and cuts would create the kind of long-term unemployment that destroyed ex-mining towns for a generation. If there was a strategy to create new jobs in the same areas, appropriate for the people who’d lost theirs, I might change my mind.

You do realise that there is no difference between classifying someone simply by their job and classifying someone simply by their skin colour

Wow. I’d hear the jokes about how police officers were specially bred, but I’d never taken them seriously before…

I’m totally on-board with the idea that the vast majority of police officers are perfectly decent people and that we shouldn’t tar them all with the same brush, but you can’t reasonably claim that there is “no difference” between judging someone on their choice of career (with the emphasis on the word “choice” there) and the conditions of their birth, and to attempt to do so is massively disrespectful to all the people who have ever suffered because of the latter.

I’ll go out on a limb here and state for the record that I think professional torturers are all bastards (psychologically damaged bastards, maybe, but bastards nonetheless). I think that’s a perfectly reasonable assumption based on the available evidence, and not in any way comparable to racism.

Police Officers are not beamed in from another planet they are ordinary members of the public the vast majority of whome join the force to make a difference. Most of them have family who will be subjsct to a lot of the cuts that are coming, wives, brothers, sister etc. Just because they cannot belong to a polictical party does not mean that they dont have political views and when they protested in London a cpl of years ago it was not about pay it was about a home secretary that had broken a promise and renaiged on a deal, sound familiar?

Of course there are bad apples but they exis thatt in all walks of life. My concern is about the career police officers who are driven and join the force for an altogether different motive. ACPO are the body that draw up public order tactics and the plod are following their orders. Talk about vested interest ACPO are the ones who deserve the public distrust and hostility. And lets be honest there are protagonists on both sides who just love to spoil for a fight, its the innocent ones caught in the middle who suffer unfotunately.

44. john p Reid

Dunc,Alot of working calss people go into policeing or the Army not as a career ,but theres no other jobs,and that its not a career ,but a job that they don’t always enjoy for a couple of years.
Actually most police i know voted labour or stayed at home at the last election due the laobur governemnt breaking the law and arbitration and go back on the pay they were promised.
As for kettling police ,if a small minority infultrated a polcei protest with petrol bombs ,snooker balls,fire extuingishers and started throwing them at people ,yes the police should be kettled.
it 27 years since the miners strike and it was only police officers who’d done their probation 2 years who could leave london etc, to go to the miners strike, so that only the police who’ve done 29yrs of their 30 years ,you should be angry at over the miners strike

1 Sally, why do you say the polce were happy to seefuel protesters block roads, I know polcie who went out of their way to stop em, but its easier to stop a flying picketr from stoppin someone who’s demcratically not going ion strike and is crossing apicket line, than stopping a vehicle thats got a right to be on a raod ,even if its driving slowly.As Blair said in his autobiography ,it was the fact he was out of the country for 4 days and there was no law in place that made it dificult to get around to stopping hte fuel protesters, tehy wen’t lose their jobs as tehy can’t be made redundant, as for not having police reform, the PACE laws,mcpherdon, PCSO’s, police mergers, more than 1000 new laws under labour, the police have been changing for years.

4the mulgrub- the police have the countryside alliance as their ally-Not at the fox hunting protest they did’nt, who do the polce have as their Ally maybe the people on council estates who want crime down.

georgemcgreen- A socailist can be a racist and a fascist and there was lots of anti white raicsm by black labour people to keith Baleklocks family,Why do yuo assume that the polce are racist,Trevr philips and PaUL Boateng even say that the polce arent ‘institutionally# racist anymore.

MRgrunt ,Daniel Facor well said

Actually I Know a Tory who’s pro the polcei who said that he has sympathy with the police and agasit the tory cuts, but would lose sympathy that hte public would never give back if the police were alolwed and went on strike.
It sn ot proved that Alfie meadows was hit by a P.C ,but would it really make sense to see crime rise in council estates due to police cuts just becasue of the stupid actions of P.c HArwood pushing ian tomlinson over.and not supporting the police if the cuts go ahead

When arbitration (a union discussing right) ,said the police should have a pay rise and the labour gov’t went against the law and broke it (in2008) who marched along side the police when they went on their protest, Tony Benn, Diane Abbott and Ken Livingstone

46. double karma

http://www.redpepper.org.uk/policing-in-the-age-of-austerity << people should read the last paragraph. but I quote it for you here

"Finally, those expecting a change in attitudes as, for the first time, the cuts hit the police too will almost certainly face disappointment. It’s important to remember that in general, the police do not institutionally share public perceptions of the importance of dissent. Protests are seen as a nuisance, a distraction from the maintenance of order and, as an episode of the Channel 4 series ‘Coppers’ showed in November 2010, demonstrators are often viewed with contempt. The naïve idea that the police can somehow be ‘shamed’ into better treatment of protesters by actively opposing cuts in their numbers – what one campaigner recently called ‘proving our moral superiority; – represents a failure to understand the deep-rooted prejudices against dissent that exist within the culture of the police."


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    When the police march against job losses – we should join in …: But if and when members of the police go on st… http://bit.ly/gGdJ2T

  39. Kevin Blowe

    "The anti-cuts movement should march and protest in support of the police" http://bit.ly/eaNddM <- taking the idea of solidarity way too far

  40. piombo

    RT @copwatcher: "The anti-cuts movement should march and protest in support of the police" http://bit.ly/eaNddM <- taking the idea of …

  41. HarpyMarx

    RT @copwatcher: "The anti-cuts movement should march and protest in support of the police" http://bit.ly/eaNddM <- taking the idea of …

  42. Rachel Hubbard

    When the police march against job losses – we should join in #solidarity | Liberal Conspiracy http://goo.gl/Ql26n

  43. Why The Police Will Not Be Getting My Solidarity-by Phil Dickens « Norfolk Community Action Group

    […] years. The question is, especially given recent events, how do we respond to this? Already, on Liberal Conspiracy, Steve Sumpter has written that “those of us in the anti-cuts movement should be protesting […]

  44. Policing in the age of austerity | Red Pepper blog | Red Pepper

    […] 2010, demonstrators are often viewed with contempt. The naïve idea that the police can somehow be ‘shamed’ into better treatment of protesters by actively opposing cuts in their numbers – what one campaigner recently called ‘proving our […]

  45. sunny hundal

    @aaronjohnpeters that has little bearing on argmnt. @latentexistence said same http://bit.ly/fCDpe6 which many incl @misselliemae agreed





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