British secret police against democracy

This 4 April 2013 video from the USA says about itself:

On Tuesday the advocacy group Partnership for Civil Justice Fund released new documents that show the Department of Homeland Security is conducting surveillance on peaceful protest groups, like Occupy Wall Street. DHS is claiming it has every right to keep track on peaceful demonstrators, but critics say it’s an abuse of their power.

According to the documents it turns out, DHS has been spying on peaceful, law abiding citizens since 2006, and they say it’s legal. For more Michael Brooks a producer for The Majority Report joins us.

By Solomon Hughes in Britain:

Britain’s ‘subversives’ were proved right by history

Friday 20th October 2017

SOLOMON HUGHES fears MI5 and Special Branch can’t and won’t put an end to their ineffectual, irratating and life-destroying tactics

ARE Britain’s security services going to play daft games when Jeremy Corbyn becomes prime minister? The signs suggest they will.

Former MI5 boss Stella Rimington gave the Daily Mail, the Times and the Telegraph a thrill last week, telling the Cheltenham Literary Festival that members of “various subversive organisations” she monitored in the 1980s are “familiar names” who “are now grown up and advising our would-be prime minister Mr Corbyn as to how to prepare himself for power.”

The right-wing press had a little reds-under-the-beds frisson. But to do so it had to pretend to forget the “subversive organisations” Rimington and the security forces “monitored” back then weren’t “subversive” at all. They were democratic campaigns which rightly challenged the Establishment.

Rimington’s spy targets from the ’80s included the Anti-Apartheid Movement, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and any number of trade unions.

A member of the Cheltenham audience questioned Rimington’s assertion that she only spied on “subversives.” But our national newspapers are less critical than the average punter at a literary festival.

Rimington’s admission reflects badly on MI5, not Corbyn.

The security services have an embarrassing record of spying in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s.

MI5 — which does the posh bits of spying — and the police Special Branch — which did the bulk of monitoring — wasted time that should have been dedicated to chasing terrorists or criminals by spying on legitimate protest movements.

In the 1970s MI5 even spent time spying on the well-known subversive John Lennon. Much of the time the “radicals” who were spied on by the security services were proved right in the longer term.

The campaigners who wanted to fight apartheid or show that the Birmingham Six were innocent or cut nuclear weapons were all on the right side of history. The telephone tappers, mail openers, bugging enthusiasts and infiltrators were in the wrong.

Most of what MI5 and Special Branch did was ineffectual. They built up files on “subversives.” Some of it was, and is, irritating: they used their files to spread nasty rumours and fake stories through friends in the press.

Some of it really hurt individuals. Both MI5 and Special Branch worked with the Economic League to draw up “blacklists” of trade unionists that kept good people out of work. These blacklists often picked out good safety reps, so they made some workplaces more dangerous.

In the dirtiest trick, Special Branch’s “special demonstration squad” sent undercover officers into many political campaigns, and encouraged officers to form long-term sexual relationships with activists as their cover. They even fathered children in their false alter-egos.

This was disgraceful and damaging for the women. But the campaigns they targeted, like those fighting against the many miscarriages of justice, were often vital grassroots groups.

At the same time, both MI5 and Special Branch helped to cover up sexual abuse of children by Cyril Smith MP, so their record from these years is pretty grim.

In the run-up to the last election, we had a few leaks from ex-MI5 or ex-Special Branch officers about how they monitored people around the Labour leader — or even Corbyn and shadow chancellor John McDonnell themselves.

Each time The Telegraph or The Times or the Daily Mail went through contortions to avoid saying this was part of wider scandalous behaviour by the security services in the ’80s and ’90s. I expect more of these stories will float up.

The bigger question is will the security services also actively spy on and leak against a newly elected Labour government? I think it is likely they will.

Scotland’s Sunday Herald reports that Eleanor Jones, a British artist based in Berlin, was arrested and questioned by police before she could board a flight from Edinburgh back to Germany.

Jones had taken part in the G20 protests in Hamburg in July. However, Police Scotland detained her at Edinburgh Airport under Section Seven of the Terrorism Act.

Jones is clearly no terrorist. But the police used the Act to interrogate her about her political views and get access to her laptop and phone before releasing her without charge. Eleanor Jones is twin sister of Labour-supporting Guardian columnist Owen Jones.

To me, this looks like opportunism on the part of the “political police,” a fishing expedition aimed at those connected to Labour’s leadership. It suggests to me that the security services are going to pick and poke at Labour now, as well as reviving old tales of the ’80s and ’90s.

This isn’t going to stop Labour getting into power. But a new set of leaks and rumours and small disruptive acts by the security services will be an irritation.

The inquiry into the really dirty tricks of the undercover “spy cops” may well be unearthing old tales of security service misbehaviour just when the security services misbehave again.

Ultimately, this discredits the security services themselves. But I fear they just can’t stop themselves.

ONE of the Birmingham Six, wrongly convicted of the Birmingham pub bombings in 1975, branded the British legal system as unable ‘to spell the word justice’, declassified government documents reveal: here.

2 thoughts on “British secret police against democracy

  1. Pingback: Secret police released thousands of American mink into British countryside | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Pingback: Police sexual spying on British women | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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