British secret police spying on Parliament


This video from London, England says about itself:

Labour MP Paul Flynn asks about the criminality of GCHQ and the British government on spying on people.

Recorded from BBC Parliament, 10 June 2013.

For the CIA, United States domestic spying on anyone is illegal. Nevertheless, in practice it turns out that the CIA spies even on the United States Senate committee monitoring their torture and other activities.

Now, to Britain. By Luke James in London:

SPIED-ON MPs DEMAND TO SEE SPOOKS‘ FILES

Friday 27th March 2015

Furious Labour politicians call for the release of secret reports on their personal and political lives

LABOUR MPs targeted by police spooks demanded the release yesterday of secret files compiled on their political and personal lives over 10 years.

… Police Minister Mike Penning faced an urgent question over the covert surveillance of MPs on the final day of parliamentary debate before the election.

Only hours earlier, spook-turned-whistleblower Peter Francis had revealed that Special Branch spied on 10 Labour MPs during the 1990s.

Prominent MPs such as Dennis Skinner, Diane Abbott, Jeremy Corbyn and the late Tony Benn were all monitored by Special Branch, he told the Guardian.

Deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman, the most senior MP targeted, demanded to see an uncensored copy of her file.

Mr Penning told MPs that their cases would be considered by the Pitchford inquiry into secret policing that was established earlier this month.

But Ms Harman argued that he was kicking the issue into the long grass, saying: “I would like you to assure me that you, the government, will let me see a full copy of my file.

“I was campaigning for the rights of women, for the rights of workers and the right to demonstrate — none of that was against the law, none of that was undermining our democracy.”

Jack Straw said that the evidence suggested he was being spied on even while he was home secretary between 1997 and 2001.

During the urgent question, Mr Skinner asked why the spooks “only seem to pursue socialists?”

Mr Corbyn also pressed Mr Penning to secure the release of the “full, unredacted version” of his file.

“If I was under surveillance, or the late Bernie Grant or any of my friends, then presumably the police were at whatever meetings we attended and recorded whatever phone calls we made,” he said.

“I think we have a right to know about that.”

The minister promised the pair that he would “make sure that as much as can be released is released” but added that there may be security reasons for material being withheld or censored.

A Home Office spokesman told the Star that the final decision on whether to redact information would be made by the Metropolitan Police, which holds the files.

The Morning Star contacted the Met to ask whether it would release the files in full.

In a statement, a Met spokeswoman said: “While talking openly about undercover policing is challenging because of its very nature, the upcoming inquiry represents a real opportunity to provide the public with as complete a picture as possible of what has taken place.”

She added that Operation Herne, the police investigation into misconduct by Met officers, was “very willing to engage” with Mr Francis about his claims. Operation Herne maintains that without speaking to Peter Francis it is simply not possible to fully investigate allegations he makes,” she said.

But Labour MP John McDonnell said that the government should first guarantee Mr Francis immunity from prosecution under the Official Secrets Act.

Mr McDonnell tabled an early day motion last week calling on the Pitchford inquiry to examine evidence given by Mr Francis that the Met also spied on trade unions, the family of murder victim Stephen Lawrence and anti-fascist groups.

This video says about itself:

Labour MP Dennis Skinner asks about the criminality of GCHQ and the British government on spying on people.

Recorded from BBC Parliament, 10 June 2013.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Unjustified Intrusion

Friday 27th March 2015

DENNIS SKINNER hit the nail on the head yesterday as Parliament discussed revelations that the Met Police had been spying on MPs – and even, it seems, at one point the Home Secretary.

“Why is it they only seem to pursue leftwingers and socialists?” the Beast of Bolsover asked Police Minister Mike Penning.

The Tory’s response – that since he had once been an FBU member who stood on picket lines he may himself have been snooped on- was hardly reassuring.

From Edward Snowden unmasking in 2013 the vast international surveillance conducted by the US National Security Agency to this year’s finding by the Investigatory Powers Tribunal that GCHQ’s information sharing with the agency was illegal for seven years, British citizens have got used to the idea that the state is always watching.

Few will be surprised that this surveillance extended to MPs, and years of expenses fiddling and corruption scandals have done such damage to Parliament’s reputation that many may not care.

Certainly the news that Blairite warmonger Jack Straw, who as home secretary increased police powers and tried to restrict the right to trial by jury, was being spied on himself by an organisation he was supposedly in charge of has a touch of the comic.

But as Mr Skinner points out, this is not simply a case of MPs being subject to the same unjustified intrusion to which the rest of us are subjected.

Special Branch was highly selective about who it spied on. Among the names revealed by whistleblower Peter Francis are well known socialists familiar to this paper’s readers. Mr Skinner himself of course, Jeremy Corbyn, Ken Livingstone, Tony Benn – as well as veterans of the anti-apartheid and anti-racist movements such as Peter Hain and Diane Abbott and peace campaigner Dame Joan Ruddock.

By contrast, as the Bolsover MP eloquently puts it, “all those paedophiles managed to disappear into thin air.”

The appalling abuse of children perpetuated by MPs such as Cyril Smith and allegedly also by members of Margaret Thatcher’s Cabinet were evidently of less concern to the police than legitimate political campaigning.

The picture this paints of the British state is not an attractive one. But it is sadly familiar.

State power in this country is exercised by a ruling capitalist class. That doesn’t change depending on election results.

Labour has often proved a tame servant of that ruling class in office, but the party does represent the aspirations of millions of ordinary workers and its MPs include socialists who do fight for a Britain governed in their interests.

Hence the Establishment’s continued suspicion of the party, displayed in the fact that all the names released by Mr Francis were Labour MPs just as it is seen daily in hysterical attacks on Ed Miliband in the pages of newspapers owned by tax-dodging tycoons.

This alone is an indication that those on the left who see no difference between Britain’s biggest parties are missing something. If Labour were just another bunch of neoliberals, the rich wouldn’t care wheter it won May’s election or not.

So this scandal is not ultimately about the rights of MPs or the extent of parliamentary privilege.

As Mr Corbyn said yesterday, MPs can at least grill the Home Office about why they were spied on – “but many, many others unknown to us do not have that opportunity.”

Clearly the state has been treating trade unionists, socialists, peace and anti-racism campaigners as “the enemy within,” whether they’re ordinary citizens, MPs or ministers.

Lord Pitchford’s inquiry into undercover policing must expose the whole rotten business. But only revolutionary change, for a Britain run by its people and not by a shadowy elite, can hope to end it.