British war profiteers Group 4

This is a British punk rock music video about Securicor, part of G4S. It says about itself:

CRASS – Securicor live

Feeding of 5000 Festival @ Shepherds Bush Empire November 24th 2007 UK London

Lyrics of the song are here.

From British daily The Morning Star:

The war profiteers

(Thursday 22 January 2009)

SOLOMON HUGHES on the MP making money from the ‘war on terror.’

DAVID Miliband said that the war on terror was an error, but some people don’t regret it.

Private security companies like Group 4 made a mint. Now, it wants to spread its good fortune – this month, Group 4 Security gave a £50,000 position to former Labour minister John Reid as an “adviser.”

Reid fits in this part-time job when he isn’t too busy representing the good people of Airdrie and Shotts as their Member of Parliament.

Group 4 has plenty of reasons to want access to the contact book of a former home and defence secretary – the firm now supplies the armed guards looking after British officials in Iraq and Afghanistan while locking up prisoners, asylum-seekers and “terror suspects” in Britain, so Reid is worth every one of the five million pennies that they are giving the man.

Reid was once a Communist Party member, but abandoned Marxism in favour of new Labour. This is odd, because his career seems to illustrate the crudest and most determinist kind of Marxism.

For years, Marxists have been grappling with the subtle and sophisticated ways in which the capitalist class dominates society, but Group 4 opted for a very unsubtle approach – the capitalists just hired Labour’s representative.

Reid hasn’t always hawked his brawn for the money men. Back in 1992, Reid signed a House of Commons motion calling on Sir Norman Fowler to resign from the board of Group 4. The motion said that the House “regrets that the right honourable Member for Sutton Coldfield (Norman Fowler), chairman of the Conservative Party, has not seen fit to resign his directorship of another Group 4 company, Group 4 Securitas, and urges him to do so.”

It added: “The government should suspend all further moves to privatisation within the criminal justice system.”

Reid’s call for Fowler to resign from Group 4 and for the government to shun the firm came after the company let a number of prisoners escape from their vans on the way to court.

Whizz forward a decade and a half and Reid, having demanded that Fowler abandon Group 4, has himself taken a job with the firm. In the meantime, Conservative and Labour governments have not stopped their “privatisation of the criminal justice system,” they have expanded it.

Group 4 has men with truncheons in Britain and men carrying guns in Iraq.

Nor has the firm become any less accident-prone. Group 4 Security prefers to be called G4S because, in ad people’s language, the brand is tarnished.

Group 4 was even described as a “national laughing stock” by the government’s own lawyers in court in 2003 after a riot at an immigration detention centre that it ran which was later burned to the ground. Things haven’t improved since.

Reid himself sent the firm to new frontiers, where the firm ran new fiascos. When Reid was home secretary, the Law Lords told him that just labelling foreigners “terror suspects” didn’t mean that he could lock them up without trial.

Reid turned to Group 4 for help. It cobbled together something called “control orders,” a house arrest for these “terror suspects” administered by Group 4 and other private firms.

Control orders were simultaneously too draconian and too lax – prisoners, including vulnerable men who had been tortured in their home countries, were tagged and monitored by Group 4.

Those who stuck by the rules were pushed to the edge of mental illness by the isolation of the strict house arrest. At the same time, Group 4 allowed another prisoner to simply disappear. This may have been embarrassing for the firm and for Reid, but they manfully hid their red faces and entered into a new relationship when Reid left government.

Group 4 has risen thanks to the crudest economic determinism – Reid, who authorised the signing of cheques for Group 4 as a minister, ends up getting cheques from the firm.

Reid is not alone. A small squad of politicians worked to get Group 4 where it is today.

First, Tory chairman Fowler helped the firm get into the prisons business in the 1990s. Group 4 tightened its grip on British jails last year when it took over rival private prisons firm GSL.

It bought GSL from an investment company called Englefield Capital, which employs another Labour ex-minister, former defence secretary George Robertson, as an adviser.

Group 4 then broke into the international mercenary trade by buying a company called Armor Group, whose armed men guard British officials in Iraq and Afghanistan. Up until this, Armor Group’s chairman had been another top politician – leading Tory MP Malcolm Rifkind.

Twenty years ago, the idea that a private company would run our jails and wars would have looked like science fiction. By hiring politicians, the “security industry” made it a reality.

You can read about this in my book War On Terror, Inc, available from all good booksellers.

4 thoughts on “British war profiteers Group 4

  1. Pingback: Crisis, but not for war profiteers | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Pingback: British ‘security’ thugs injure refugee | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Pingback: Setback for G4S corporate refugee killers | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  4. Pingback: Anti-human rights G4S mercenaries in charge of British human rights? | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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