No lawbreaking required: Secret police are spying on students to repress political dissent

Caught with his trousers down: Herr Flick from 'Allo Allo' - possibly the last secret policeman to be revealed in quite such an embarrassing way.

Caught with his trousers down: Herr Flick from ‘Allo Allo’ – possibly the last secret policeman to be revealed in quite such an embarrassing way.

So now not only are our students facing the prospect of a life in debt, paying off the cost of their education (thanks, Liberal Democrats!) but they know they can expect the police to be spying on them in case they do anything radical, student-ish and treasonous like joining UK Uncut and occupying a shop to publicise the corporate tax avoidance our Tory-led government encourages.

Rather than investigate and solve crimes, it seems the police are embracing their traditional role (under Conservative governments) as political weapons – targeting suspected dissenters against their right-wing government’s policies, trying to undermine their efforts and aiming to apprehend key figures.

They are behaving like secret police, in fact. Allow this to go much further and we will have our own Gestapo, here in Britain. Before anyone starts invoking Godwin’s Law, just take a look at the evidence; it is a justifiable comparison.

According to The Guardian, police have been caught trying to spy on the political activities of students at Cambridge University. It had to be Cambridge; Oxford is traditionally the ‘Tory’ University.

The officer concerned tried to get an activist to rat on other students in protest groups in return for money, but the student turned the tables on him by wearing a hidden camera to record a meeting and expose the facts.

The policeman, identified by the false name ‘Peter Smith’, “wanted the activist to name students who were going on protests, list the vehicles they travelled in to demonstrations, and identify leaders of protests. He also asked the activist to search Facebook for the latest information about protests that were being planned.

“The other proposed targets of the surveillance include UK Uncut, the campaign against tax avoidance and government cuts, Unite Against Fascism and environmentalists” – because we all know how dangerous environmentalists are!

Here at Vox Political, it feels as though we have come full circle. One of the events that sparked the creation of this blog was the police ‘kettling’ of students demonstrating against the rise in tuition fees, back in 2010. It was a sign that the UK had regressed to the bad old days of the Thatcher government, when police were used (famously) to intimidate, annihilate and subjugate picketing miners.

Back then, BBC news footage was doctored to make it seem the miners had been the aggressors; fortunately times have changed and now, with everyone capable of filming evidence with their mobile phones, it is much harder for such open demonstrations of political repression to go unremarked.

In response, we see the police being granted expanded powers of arrest against anyone deemed to be causing a “nuisance” or “annoyance”, and now the infiltration of groups deemed likely to be acting against the government, even though they may not have broken any laws at all.

This would be bad enough if it was a single incident, taken in isolation – but it isn’t. It is part of a much wider attack on the citizens of this country by institutions whose leaders should know better.

The UK is now in the process of removing the rights it has taken nearly a thousand years for its citizens to win.

It is a country that abuses the sick and disabled.

And it is a country where free speech will soon be unheard-of; where the police – rather than investigate crimes – proactively target political dissenters, spying on anyone they suspect of disagreeing with the government and looking for ways to silence them.

Who voted for that?

14 thoughts on “No lawbreaking required: Secret police are spying on students to repress political dissent

    1. M.E. In The 21st Century

      I’m beginning to wonder if there is actually going to be another election.
      There is provision in the law to suspend elections during certain crisis situations.
      I’m no legal whizz but someone is might be able to find the exact wording and consider how such a crisis can be manufactured.

      and remember, it was done before in Germany after Adolf’s landslide win.

  1. Thomas M

    This government is starting to get scared of being overthrown. Maybe if they didn’t give the disabled the choice of slave labour or homelessness, weigh down students with debt and try and make it illegal to talk about politics anywhere near election time, they would not need to be so worried. If you block the steam coming out of a kettle, it would explode.

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  3. noneoftheabove1

    I vaguely recall another incident when police tried to infiltrate universities by recruiting or posing as students to spy on other students’ I think it was about 40 years ago, am I imagining it?

  4. Joseph smith

    It’s hardly a shock and probably means the establishment is running scared. Students were lied to in a most disgusting way in the run up to the last election, conned defrauded are words wholly appropriate in this instance. We as a group need to publicise ALL of the lies spouted by senior lib cons during the spring of 2010. Cameron’s on another jaunt abroad paid for by us the taxpayers. We have problems in this country never mind swanning off to some holiday Island and parading on the world stage. This man is using the PMs position to gain his next job. I’m so angry with this shower I’d probably vote Joseph Stalin in just to get rid of these scumbags.

  5. beastrabban

    Reblogged this on Beastrabban’s Weblog and commented:
    In this piece, Mike discusses the increasingly political use of the police to infiltrate and gather information on opposition and protest groups. This follows revelations in the Guardian that a policeman approached a student at Cambridge University and tried to get him to provide information on student activists at the university. He was asked for the names of those going on protests, their leaders, the vehicles they used when they went on demonstrations. Other groups targeted for police surveillance included UK Uncut, Unite Against Fascism, environmentalists and the campaigns against tax avoidance and government cuts. Mike points out this marks a return to the policies of Thatcher’s government, when the police were used, in the words of one chief constable, as ‘Thatcher’s army’ against the miners. The BBC also joined in their campaign by doctoring images of the battles between the police and miners so that the strikers appeared to be the instigators of the violence. He also states that these revelations have made the blog come full circle, as he was partly moved to set up this blog by the police ‘kettling’ students protesting against the imposition of tuition fees. Mike argues that the police are becoming Cameron’s Gestapo, and that their use as a secret police marks an assault on over a thousand years of hard-won political freedoms. This is certainly a real danger, but it has been going on for a very long time. The radical, parapolitical magazine Lobster was launched to examine and publicise the political use of the intelligence services – MI5 and MI6 – against left-wing opposition groups in the UK and abroad. Since the fall of Communism in the 1990s and the flood of information on the activities of the security services, it has changed its focus to examining the role of covert funding groups, think tanks and highly influential individuals in promoting Right-wing policies in the UK, including within the Labour party. One senior member of MI5, according to Lobster, once boasted in an interview with the BBC, that there wasn’t a Left-wing or opposition organisation in which their man either wasn’t in charge, or was in a position to send one of their members off and bring their man on. This was duly cut from the broadcast version of the interview. Lobster also considers that MI5 actively promoted the smears that Harold Wilson was a Soviet spy, and conspired against his administration in collusion with the Conservative party. The political infiltration and surveillance of protest groups has been going on for a very long time. The only difference it seems is that the police are joining the intelligence services. The information revolution means, however, that such operations may also become increasingly difficult. The student approached by the policeman, ‘Peter Smith’, turned the tables on him by secretly filming him with the camera in his phone. It’s one way in which the world of the internet and the mobile phone can be used to defend and promote freedom against the establishment forces of oppression. Unfortunately, as this article reveals, this may not be easy as police increasingly join the intelligence services as the secret police of Cameron’s Tory Britain.

  6. Chris

    I fear this may actually work. Eventually, the police and other services will likely be privatised, meaning the owners will get richer as unrest gets worse.

  7. aussieeh

    A few years ago on TV, I think it was in the 80s, was an excellent British drama the title, A Very British Coupe starring the late great actor, Ray McAnally. Based on a novel by Chris Mullin, and more recently, Secret State starring Gabriel Byrne,based around Chris Mullins novel. Both are first class dramas and give you the insight into the shadowy world of the people hiding behind the politicians, trying to pull their strings. I would say that both dramas are very close to the truth and well worth a watch. Although the original 80s version shows how deep these agents will delve into ordinary peoples lives, even to the level of threatening one female characters children, and the murder of a scientist. Basically if you rock the boat, tell the truth, make waves and get noticed, they will try to infiltrate you and your friends.
    About 25 years ago myself and a few friends went to a local illegal pop festival. Although it was near a small local village, it was in the middle of nowhere on the top of a very large hill. We drove there in a friends van filled with fire wood and booze and had a really good day. Around 2am a rented van drove on site with a couple of hippy looking types inside, and parked up at the far end of the field.
    Myself and one of my mates that hadn’t gone to sleep, were stood around a small camp fire, it was drizzling but it was a warm night and pitch black. We heard a noise behind us, and as we turned we could see around half a dozen figures just cresting the top of the hill,it was one hell of a climb and must have taken them a while to do it. They clocked us and made a beeline for us, then came the questions, they did try not to look like the police. Alright lads, how long you been here?,how did you get here?, have you got any booze?, have you got any smoke? this went on for about 10 minutes. So myself and my mate stood there looking really pissed off, wet, sharing a bottle of Newcy brown and a ciggy told them.We came with a mate in his van,we don’t know where the hell we are, and he’s pissed off somewhere, we’ve no money or sod all, we gave them a really sob story. It all lasted about 20 minutes.
    I couldn’t believe my eyes when this copper pulled a lump of Black out of his pocket, broke off what must have been about an eighth and gave it to us with the words, “here lads have a smoke on me”. They then all disappeared into the dark in the direction of the hired van. People had been turning up all day, it was an alternative site to the Deeply Vale site in Bury, there were a few hundred people there.
    Around 4am just as it was becoming light, we saw this hired van hurtling towards the main road with all the windows smashed and the words, PIGS,SCUM and other derogatory remarks scrawled all over it, and about a hundred people chasing it, throwing whatever they could get their hands on, and a couple of people trying to escape, trying to jump into the back of the van.
    We had a belting weekend there, one hell of a party, with no complaints and the local village shop doing probably six months business in two days.
    The thing is when you’re doing something the man doesn’t agree with, illegal or not, you have to keep your wits about you, and stay on your toes. Suspect everyone you don’t know, and as someone once said ” treat them like mushrooms, feed them shit and keep them in the dark”. We are not all as stupid as they seem to think we are. Know your enemy,

  8. Joseph smith

    They can’t win and cannot be allowed entertain the dream they have that they can. Remember the picketing of refineries some years ago? Collectively the government of the time was s…….g its self. Then, the spineless ones in government pass a law to render that kind of action as terrorist, that’s how panicked they were. So now our fuehrer find 10 million of our quids to give to the philipines. And The EU gives 7 million euros, are we stupid or what? Now the philipines need all the help the rest of the world can give, but arnt we skint? With a huge deficit? With 2.6 million unemployed, with youth unemployment at its highest level ever? With needy people losing homes because of the bedroom tax? With seriously ill and disabled people losing benefits because we can’t afford it. With many people worrying about increasing energy costs.
    So whose benefit was this generosity for? Cameron’s next job?

  9. Roger Gough

    This course of action merely serves to support the surveillance of just about everyone as detailed by Edward Snowden’s revelations. He may well become one the most imoportant and famous men in history, ever.

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