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Cop Advisors Admit Anti-Cuts Protests Can Win!

Sun Tzu | 03.05.2011 20:53 | Health | Policing | Public sector cuts | Workers' Movements

Policy Exchange UK published a You Tube video of a symposium in which policing experts and former police infiltrators offer frank assessments of government responses to the threat they face from anti-cuts protests. These experts advise that the protests can succeed, and their primary advice to the government is to "kettle the political debate as efficiently as the Met kettles rioters". What strategies can protestors adopt to make sure that doesn't happen?

Today's announcements that (quoting the BBC TV news text service) "the government is scaling back plans to use the private sector to deliver public services", and the announcement of the unlawful killing verdict against Ian Tomlinson's killer, Metropolitan Police serial-thug PC Simon Harwood, are the latest evidence of the deep impact that anti-cuts protests are having on the coalition government, and of how portable video cameras and citizen journalism are helping to undermine the authorities and to empower protest movements. In January 2011 Policy Exchange UK published a You Tube video called "The Rise of Street Extremism", documenting at a symposium in which policing experts and former police infiltrators discussed (according to the video description) "riots over student tuition fees, the forcible closure of high street stores by flashmobs and... growing demands for industrial action to undermine the Coalition administration". The video warrants analysis as a serious, direct and frank assessment by major State / capitalist players of government responses to the threat they face from anti-cuts protestors.

Speakers at the conference were: Peter Clarke CVO OBE QPM, former Head of the Counter Terrorism Command and former Police Borough Commander in Brixton during the "1995" (presumably 1985) riots; Rt Hon David Maclean, former Tory Minister of State at the Home Office and Parliamentary Adviser to the Police Superintendents Association; Paul Mercer, former CND infiltrator, author of Longman's Directory of British Political Organisations and political advisor to un-named corporations; and Henry Robinson, community activist and former IRA prisoner (someone who's not best placed to offer moral judgements about alleged extremists). Paul Mercer's quip that injuries sustained during "six days of skiing in the Alps had actually caused more injuries than 29 years of attending riots" (8:00) sums up alot of this video, and what the video refers to as the "feral underclass" (10:35) are what everyone else refers to as the poor.

Paul Mercer confirms that on demonstrations the ability of the police to use kettling to "contain large numbers of people using considerably smaller numbers of police officers"(11:28) relies on the police's ability and willingness to (quote) "hit people" (11:54) - in other words, to commit criminal assaults (based on the unspoken assumption that in the past the police used to be confident they were immune from prosecution under the laws they ask everyone else to follow). The video confirms that police effectiveness is being seriously eroded by protestors using camera phones (12:55), whose use means the police know their actions are likely to be filmed, and know therefore "they will be prosecuted if they do something wrong" (13:00).

The video description states that "there are increasing signs that significant sections of the extreme left have little intention of confining their opposition to Coalition policies to peaceful, democratic protest", omitting to mention (either in the video or its description) that the Climate Camp protestors the police brutalised at G20 were not "extreme left", and that the assaults carried out against them were neither "peaceful" nor "democratic" (not to mention the police killing Ian Tomlinson, assaulting disabled protestor Jody McIntyre and nearly killing Alfie Meadows), and omitting to mention the role that police thuggery plays in pushing protestors towards greater militancy or (to use their language) "extremism".

Former Tory Police Minister David Maclean asks "will law breaking, direct action and violence succeed?" (15:30) and (bearing in mind my own belief is in non-violent direct action) his honest assessment is "YES IT CAN" (15:40).

Having stated that the ability to continue effective kettling is vital to police attempts to stop protests from succeeding, David Maclean goes on to advocate aggressive policing and a "decapitation strategy" (18:50) for ring-leaders of disruptive protests (ie - recommending they be arrested promptly) in order to combat perceptions of State weakness and to pay lip-service to the idea of facilitating peaceful protest. In doing so David Maclean neatly avoids the point Paul Mercer made about how kettling doesn't work when police feel they're no longer free to hit the people they're "facilitating" and/or free to break their own laws!

Most interestingly, David Maclean goes on to say that the government must "KETTLE THE POLITICAL DEBATE as efficiently as the Met kettles rioters" (23:05), meaning that, in order to avoid "another Poll Tax defeat for the government" (23:45) the State must prevent the anti-cuts movement achieving "critical mass" by crossing-over and engaging the majority of members of the public who aren't previously active in or traditionally sympathetic to activist culture or sympathetic to militant protest.

The specific group David Maclean discusses are lorry drivers, because their protests have the ability to paralyse basic infrastructure (and it's interesting that some Trades Union activists have, very unwisely, been hostile to lorry-drivers as they're often non-unionised and self-employed, while the only group to have targeted lorry drivers and self-employed working-class people specifically have so far been the BNP). One of the main reasons we're all protesting is because the largest group of disaffected "ordinary" people are (like ourselves) the nation's NHS users - an enormous group, and this fact suggests a self-evident strategic focus for the anti-cuts movement.

The lessons we can learn from the Policy Exchange UK symposium are...

1. To remind protestors that (with the obvious caution to NOT publish videos of protestors faces online) we all need to use camera phones and hand-held video recorders against the police at every demo, and that protestors need to keep moving, keep watching out for police forming-up behind them and never get kettled. The citizen journalism that documented the death of Ian Tomlinson has exposed a killer cop whose crimes would have been swept under the carpet without video evidence, and that video evidence has kept the G20 protest in the headlines years after the State hoped all talk of it would die down; but, even in less serious cases, making sure the police know their actions are being filmed can be an effective deterrent to police brutality even if the images and videos aren't given to the media or posted online (in fact, I've even managed to get protestors de-arrested by pretending to film cop ID numbers with a camera whose battery had gone flat).

2. If anti-cuts activists are willing to shed the ideological baggage and LISTEN TO (rather than lecture) non-radicals in context of mutual dialogue, we can prevent the State and right-wing media from politically kettling us into the confines of activist culture, and we can cross-over to achieve critical-mass in alliance with mainstream society. No disrespect to anyone who has strong ideological positions, but please, for the time being at least, leave the Communist and Anarchist flags at home - we need the TV and newspapers to show images of uniformed Nurses protesting against these vicious cuts, not uniformed Black Block. As protest movements become increasingly successful the State WILL try to discredit protests by trying to encourage the most naive and politically inexperienced among us to acts of violence or (if they can) even terrorism, so, no matter how angry you are, DON'T fall for any violent bullshit pushed by undercover journalists and State agent provocateurs. WE CAN WIN.

Sun Tzu


Display the following 25 comments

  1. The Art of War — Maxim
  2. Clarifications — Sun Tzu
  3. I Call Bullshit! — Normal Guy
  4. as far as my opinion is worth two pence, — anarcho-revolutionary-family-guy
  5. Between the lines — Klamber
  6. Criticism from someone who hasn't read or understand what was said — Sun Tzu
  7. None of the groups this idiot mentions were actually Anarchist — Sun Tzu
  8. Agent Provocateur — Sci-Tech
  9. FT article — Sci-Tech
  10. @ Sun Tzu — Normal Guy
  11. @ Sci-Tech — Normal Guy
  12. Good, we agree then — Sun Tzu
  13. @ Sun Tzu — Normal Guy
  14. Agreement? — Sun Tzu
  15. Extremism — John P
  16. @ Klamber — Francesca
  17. @Francesca — Klamber
  18. @ Sun Tzu — Normal Guy
  19. Increased violence will not work — Sun Tzu
  20. @ Sun Tzu — Normal Guy
  21. Terrorism still won't work — Sun Tzu
  22. No shit Sherlock — Sci-Tech
  23. @ Sun Tzu — Normal Guy
  24. Yay Non-violence! — LOL
  25. Over and out — Sun Tzu