Monday, September 28, 2015

Jeremy Corbyn and the New World Order

Careful what you wish for.

On 15 July the Daily Telegraph ran an article headed

How you can help Jeremy Corbyn win - and destroy the Labour Party

Sign up today to make sure the bearded socialist voter-repellent becomes the next Labour leader - and dooms the party forever

They failed to explain why 'bearded' is derogatory. Perhaps it's an allusion to the fact that beards have long been understood as tools of revolution.

Whatever, as Corbyn turned out to be genuinely popular - the Labour candidate most likely to win supporters from other parties including UKIP - the Telegraph changed tack with a range of increasingly silly stories.

Just five weeks after publishing heir step by step guide to getting Corbyn in power they told us of

Jeremy Corbyn’s plan to turn Britain into Zimbabwe

They matched that linguistic flatulence with this shocking news earlier this week

Jeremy Corbyn: 9/11 was 'manipulated'

In comments that will raise questions about his suitability to lead the Labour Party, Mr Corbyn appeared to blame George Bush and Tony Blair for using the September 11 attacks in New York to allow them to go to war

Whilst it's hilarious that a statement of bald fact can be seen as an indication of something deranged, there is a sinister undercurrent. It's an attempt to make Corbyn look like a conspiracist.

They cite the 'he said Bin Laden's death was a tragedy' tripe again (even though he didn't, as the clip of context proves).

They continue with

he wrote a series of articles which appear to have endorsed the conspiracy theory about the “New World Order”. The “New World Order” conspiracy is frequently linked to theories about the so-called “Illuminati” and claims about a “totalitarian world government”. 

This is worth looking at. Much of Corbyn's support comes from young people, many of them will not know that the phrase referred to something different to an older generation in the time when Corbyn said it.

In 1991, the Soviet bloc had just collapsed. The Cold War world of two superpowers had ended, leaving one remaining. The American establishment saw that it could bestride the globe unchallenged. The phrase New World Order was used to describe the American-led post-Soviet neoliberal momentum. President Bush used it in a speech to Congress in September 1990.

Corbyn's 'series of articles' is actually two and a half uses of the phrase in 1991-1992. Firstly

We now know that the Gulf War was a curtain-raiser for the New World Order: the rich and powerful, white and western will be able to maintain the present economic order with free use of all the weapons they wish for.


What is required now is a bold, democratic alternative to the New World Order. The US veto at the Earth summit in Rio...shows just who calls the shots in this New World Order and who will be asked to foot the bill

And finally, not even using the full phrase or capitals,

The aim of the war machine of the United States is to maintain a world order dominated by the banks and multinational companies of Europe and North America.

None of this comes anywhere close to saying there is a cabal of Jewish bankers and/or lizards who organised 9/11 as part of their plan for world government.

It is plain that Corbyn was using the commonplace, President Bush definition. In recent years, especially since 9/11, it has come to have the conspiracist meaning. The Telegraph seems unable to find Corbyn saying it since 1992, however.

Their sleight of hand in implying he means the latter definition is blatantly dishonest, as daft as someone thinking their nan calling her happy mood 'gay' means she's suddenly embraced her inner lesbian.

In case there's an residual doubt, Corbyn has specifically mentioned conspiracy theories this year.

Mr Corbyn wholly rejects the conspiracy theory and ‘truther’ theories about the terrorist attacks on September 11th 2001, which are distressing to the families and friends of those lost and hurt on that day and very often involve antisemitic views to which he has - and always will be - opposed.

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Important Information About Terrorism

When is civil disobedience violent terrorism? Whenever the police want it to be.

Not very funny is it? To be honest, it's even less funny than you might imagine.

The police's Prevent strategy for spotting extremism before it starts has long been criticised as overzealous, bordering on creating thoughtcrime. At a recent meeting for over 100 teachers in West Yorkshire, the Prevent officer cited environmental groups and named Caroline Lucas MP as an example of extremism.

Lucas was arrested in August 2013 at the Balcombe fracking site. I was in the same group that day. It was peaceful and stationary, sat in the road outside the fracking site on a Sunday. Police came and picked Lucas and her son off and arrested them, the rest of us were left alone. It was totally political. She was charged with minor offences and later acquitted.

Asked to comment on this recasting of Lucas, the assistant chief commissioner at West Yorkshire Police, Russ Foster, said:

The police acknowledge the right of people to protest in a lawful manner. However, should an individual seek to use violence in furtherance of their view, then Prevent would seek to engage with them.

Implication: To disobey a police officer is violence.

More interestingly Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers teaching union, adds

This is obviously a training session where the presenter didn’t follow his lesson plan properly, and was drawn into a very vague and ill-defined discussion of various forms of extremism, which he didn’t handle very well.

Sorry Mary, but this is the Prevent script. Across the Pennines, fracking activists and their parents have been visited by Prevent officers saying they are 'involved with extremists'.

Greater Manchester Police take the Prevent strategy into colleges, dishing out the All Communities Together Now workbook to students. Page 3 is headed Important Information About Terrorism. Seven examples are given.

  • Animal rights extremists planning to damage the house of a director of a laboratory which tests products on animals;
  • A right-wing extremist planting a bomb outside a pub used by the gay community;
  • Irish extremists planning to abduct a British soldier;
  • Left-wing extremist planning to assault a Neo-Nazi;
  • An environmentalist group disrupting air traffic control systems by blocking the runway at an airport;
  • An international terrorist group planning multiple co-ordinated attacks in crowded places;
  • A religious fanatic who is fed a distorted interpretation of an ideology over the internet and plans to attack government premises. 
Occupying a runway is terrorism.

The example is spiced up with 'disrupting air traffic control systems', which gives images of hacking computers and causing crashes. In real life, there are delays at airports all the time. Even an especially smelly turd can qualify for this definition of 'disrupting air traffic control systems'.

When climate activists have occupied infrastucture they've done so with full regard for people's safety. The Drax 29 stopped a coal train with a textbook use of railway protocol, right down to the red flag.

Among them was Mark Kennedy, a police spy whose authorisation papers from the head of the political spy units, barely two years after 7/7, said

This operation/deployment is focused on key areas of Domestic Extremism which I can say sit in the ‘priority area’ of DE for England and Wales

Yet a report into Kennedy and his unit said their targets

were not individuals engaging in peaceful protest, or even people who were found to be guilty of lesser public order offences. They were individuals intent on perpetrating acts of a serious and violent nature against citizens going about their everyday lives.

The Drax train action was was shortly after the Metropolitan Police had amalgamated their Special Branch - which ran the notorious Special Demonstration Squad - and their Anti-Terrorist Branch in 2006 to form Counter Terrorism Command. Within five years it had absorbed all the political policing units, creating a single unit for all forms of possible criminal dissent, whether you're sitting in a Suffolk lane or bombing a tube train.

One of those old units was the National Extremism Tactical Co-ordination Unit (NETCU). Founded in 2004, its aim was to advise organisations that were targeted by animal rights activists but, like all the political secret police, it rapidly developed mission-creep.

The man who effectively ran it, Detective Chief Inspector Gordon Mills, gave briefings to the illegal construction industry blacklisting firm the Consulting Association. Like so many others, this spycop was not a police officer upholding the law - he was breaking the law in order to uphold something more important. NETCU certainly regarded campaigners who threaten corporate profits as dangerous extremists.

In 2012 Mills wrote a paper for the International Journal of Police Science and Management on the difference between the two words at the heart of this.

the word 'activist' would normally come within what society and the courts tolerate as a determined protestor for social change, who might engage in acts of civil disobedience which may lead them to commit minor offences.

Such as Caroline Lucas sitting in the gate way of a closed industrial site and getting charged then cleared of Obstruction of the Highway. It seems an officer must retire and be writing in a trade mag before you'll hear them say 'civil disobedience'.

In comparison, the word 'extremism' or 'extremist' carries much stronger connotations as it is commonly associated with those that attempt or carry out acts of extreme violence to achieve their ideological aims, especially witnessed within acts of terrorism.

Violence, which we've seen includes disobeying a police officer.

Terrorism, which Prevent says includes occupying a runway.

There are continuing problems, however, in using such an emotive term when seeking to describe protest campaigns. Milne (2009) believes that, because no definition has been given to the term 'extremism' in the UK, it provides a much broader meaning than terrorism and therefore can be open to abuse by the state.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Jeremymandering the Labour Leadership Election

Leon Trotsky, Corbynite
The Labour Party is celebrating the 75th anniversary of Stalin's assassination of Leon Trotsky by having a purge of the party.

The whole Labour leadership election, especially the anti-Corbyn onslaught, has been fraught with contradictions.

Jeremy Corbyn will be unelectable said Gordon Brown, a prime minister who was never elected.

Corbyn's policies are unpopular, says Iraq-invading Tony Blair.

Corbyn would be a throwback to 1983, say the people who want it to be 1997.

Corbyn's too left wing to win, say supporters of Tony Blair, even though every Labour prime minister before Blair won with a greater share of the vote and more left wing manifesto.

Corbyn is dodgy for his links to Sinn Fein, say the same people who praised Mo Mowlam for talking to the IRA in order to bring about the Good Friday agreement.

He is evil for his links to Hamas, say the New Labour stalwarts who spent their time in government using public money to subsidise sending vast arsenals to Saudi Arabia.

We need to be tough on benefits says Andy Burnham, who claims £17,000 of public money a year to rent a flat whilst he owns one round the corner that he rents out.

Hillsborough justice campaigner Andy Burnham advertising The Sun

You can't join a party and alter its historic fundamental politics to suit you, say the people who came into Keir Hardie's socialist party and abolished Clause IV.

We need to win over people who didn't vote for us in May, say the whole party as they purge anyone they suspect of recently supporting other parties. At least, if it's parties from the left. Quentin Davies beat Labour candidates in seven general elections during his thirty years as a Tory MP. He defected to Labour and was eligible to vote in both the last and current leadership elections.

As Paul Bassett Davies said,

“I wouldn’t want to belong to any Labour party that would have me as a member.”
 - Karl ‘Groucho’ Marx.


I lose count of the number of times in the past when some Labour bod has seen my political enthusiasm and urged me to join the party. I have always replied that they don't reflect my ideas. Invariably, I was told that's exactly why I should join the party, to change it from the inside.

Now that people are joining up, Labour don't want them. Twenty years ago the newly elected leader Tony Blair promised a million members. He peaked at about 400,000. Since Corbyn has been a serious challenger membership has soared to 600,000, its biggest spike since 1951. They got 150,000 of those - the size of the entire Tory membership - on a single day last week.

Labour would have us believe that these are Trotskyite entryists. Half a million people in the UK will pay money to have a dictatorship of the proletariat. Who knew?

Mhairi Black's maiden speech went viral because it articulated so much of what people are consciously feeling, yet are not seeing in our elected representatives. She described growing up in a socialist Labour household but

we didn't leave the Labour Party, the Labour Party left us.

So many lifetime Labour people - either active supporters or 'lesser of the evils' voters - left because of the Iraq War, PFI, sticking to Tory spending plans, failure to build council homes, clampdowns on civil liberties and breaches of basic human rights like detention without trial (the Tories are worse, sure, but if Labour had won in 2010 we'd all be carrying ID cards by now).

The mushy merging of parliamentary politics into the same ideas spun by the same kind of people means there's nothing to choose from. If Labour agree with the mainstream parties that the problems are immigration, the deficit and benefit claimants then it's no surprise that everyone votes for parties who will deal with these 'problems' properly. It's notable that three of the Labour contenders are from the cosseted Armaniworld career path of Oxbridge > special advisor > safe seat.

The SNP, Greens and UKIP have benefited hugely from this, sharing six and a half million votes between them in May. With Corbyn polling as the Labour contender most likely to take votes from those parties, and his policies such as renationalisation of railways popular with the majority of voters of every party taken separately (even the Tories & UKIP), the idea that he is unelectable is yet another heehawing from the gullet of New Labour's pushmi-pullyu.

Under our absurd electoral system, adding more votes in Labour heartlands won't help Labour win more seats. But, irrespective of whatever they take back in Scotland, if they act in alliance with the SNP, Plaid Cymru and Greens (and the LibDems if they reject their neoliberalism and reclaim their position as a party that champions civil liberties) then a win in 2020 is more than feasible. More to the point, a win on a platform of social welfare and compassion.


It's about more than poaching votes from other parties, though. Perhaps the 5% Labour need isn't in the 24% who voted Tory, but the 34% who didn't vote. The biggest group of non-voters are young people. The biggest group of Corbyn supporters are young people. People who were 10 in 1997 are 28 today - Corbyn is the first time they've heard anything from a mainsteam party politician apart from oleaginous spin and focus-grouped management speak.

There is also something stirring beyond the ballot box. A sense of anger at the rich taking from the poor, a fierce will to defend beloved public institutions like the NHS and BBC, a desire to engage and actively create justice. There is a thirst for compassion so profound that an unrevolutionary old-school Labour centrist (Corbyn's policies are no further left than Neil Kinnock's) can seem like a messiah. This bodes well for the potential of more radical change that is never found in any party's manifesto.

A massive social movement millions strong is poised, asking Labour to lead it. The party is doing its best to fend it off. People whose only sin was to join the Greens for a few weeks in the run-up to the general election are being denied the chance to vote. The deregistering of people who have already voted Corbyn and the binning of their votes is blatant Jeremymandering.

As the person who sent Trotsky's assassin said,

The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything.

= = = =

If you have been knocked back in the purge, try calling the Labour party on 0845 0922299. They appear to be realising this is backfiring and say some people were sent the email 'by mistake'. 

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

7/7 - Ten Years On

7/7 Bomb factory, 18 Alexandra Grove, Leeds
Today is the tenth anniversary of the 7/7 bombings of London in which 52 random people and their four Islamist killers died. It's also Mark Kennedy's 46th birthday.

On 7/7 I was at the Horizone, a camp near Stirling in Scotland of several thousand people protesting against the nearby G8 summit. Mark had been central in the organisation of it, responsible for all the transport. He usually left us to spend his birthday elsewhere, presumably with the wife and kids that none of us knew about. But in 2005 he was at the Stirling camp, a much less cake and candles party.

The camp's model of direct democracy and minimising environmental impact were replicated for the following five years by the Camp for Climate Action. Mark was the transport guy for the first three. The policing escalated with each one. Initially they restricted themselves to searches under the Terrorism Act and riot police busting on site.


Then at Kingsnorth in 2008 there were riot cops coming to the perimeter every day at 5am, staying for half an hour while everyone got up and prepared for the worst, then they left. There were daily violent incursions, illegal stop-and-searches of everyone going to and from the camp including children, confiscating items such as toilet roll and vegetable oil, stories fed to the media about 'a cache of weapons' (a padlock and chain, with a block of kitchen knives). It cost around a million pounds for every day of the camp.

Remember that when Kennedy and his superiors give us that guff about him only being involved so they would know how to police a protest proportionately. This is intimidation of people whose ideas are politically unacceptable and in danger of becoming popular and effective.

We were targeted like this for the extremist demand of not wanting a new coal power station at Kingsnorth (something that was agreed in 2010) and we wanted the old one shut down (it's being demolished the day after tomorrow).


Back at Stirling in 2005, the action medics team included Lynn Watson. She lived in Leeds and was treasurer of the city's new radical social centre, The Common Place. She was, like Kennedy, an undercover police officer from the National Public Order Intelligence Unit.

When the Kennedy story hit the press he hired Max Clifford to hawk him round the tabloids. He says the G8 was one of the occasions when his superior told him his intelligence was being given directly to Tony Blair.

The then-Prime Minister was hosting a conference of some of the most powerful people on earth. Did he really go "Sorry, I must take this call..... wow, Mark's hired some minibuses, great stuff..... anyway, what were you saying, Vladimir?".

It's that, or Kennedy is a self-aggrandising narcissist. I leave it up to you to decide.


The following year I was part of the group who swooped in the night to occupy land and set up the first Climate Camp, near the UK's largest point of carbon emissions, Drax power station in North Yorkshire. I've never been involved in anything with tighter security. Even people involved did not communicate about it to one another. The briefing was given to me in strictest secrecy by its co-ordinator, Lynn Watson.

That was at her house in Ash Grove, Leeds. It was less than five minutes' walk from 18 Alexandra Grove, the 7/7 bomb factory. But neither Lynn, nor her colleagues, knew about that. They were too busy infiltrating us.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Equal Marriage is a Feminist Victory

For those of us who remember the power of the Catholic Church in Ireland before the last 20 years, the Yes vote for equal marriage can't be anything but astonishing.

In a secularising society accustomed to a slew of Church scandals, it's hard to remember how unusual it was a generation ago for anyone Irish not to go to mass. The country was effectively a theocracy, with Church representatives checking on you from the highest levels of government to your own living room.

Whereas now, the referendum emboldens LGBTQ status in Ireland. It helps make homophobia the thing to be ashamed of rather than homosexuality. In a generation's time, when most people have had out LGBTQ people running their pubs, on their board of school governors or whatever, people will be incredulous that it was ever criminalised.

It's a reaction already to be found among young adults in England, where homosexuality was decriminalised a generation earlier. It was still criminal in Ireland until 1993, a mere 22 years before Friday's equal marriage vote.

Complaints from the No campaign that they lost because Yes was well funded are risible. You guys have the backing of the Catholic fucking church. You are never in need of a fiver until Friday. This wasn't about publicity campaigns. This is about a huge change in social values far beyond marriage.


'We're getting married because we love each other' is a non-sequitur. What is romantic about saying 'I want you to sign a contract with the state so if you ever leave me it'll be an expensive process involving lawyers and stuff'?

But nonetheless, the institution of marriage continues to have great social significance. To exclude any group is not just to ban them from marriage, it demonstrates and entrenches the fact that they are not allowed autonomy or equality. So, even for those who don't merely choose not to get married but actively oppose it, the advent of equal marriage is something to be welcomed.

I fucking hate Fleetwood Mac. Their mogadon music is a waste of ears. But I wouldn't ban their gigs, and if there were laws preventing non-whites from going to Fleetwood Mac gigs then, even though it reduced the number of people hearing that execrable twaddle, we should oppose such legislation. In the same way, even those who challenge marriage can support the Yes vote.


Musical comedian is a profession teeming with mediocrity. It is a real challenge to be anything more than a passing chuckle-raiser. Whilst Mitch Benn - perhaps best known for his songs on Radio 4's Now Show -  is consistently worthwhile and puts social comment into his material, it's still nonetheless a largely superficial trade.

But social media changes our understanding of public figures. For every Billy Bragg who disappoints with their conservatism, there is a Mitch Benn who's actually even better on Twitter than the stuff they get paid for. He's not only a savvy thinker but his comic training gives him the pithiness needed to make Twitter come alive.

His series of tweets on Saturday as Ireland counted its votes were frankly the most insightful thing I read all day.

It's amazing just HOW much of the misery in the world, on every scale from personal to international, is all about men's need to OWN women.

When you unpack most religions, that's what you find; the codification and justification of the ownership by men of women.

It's no good blaming "religion" for everything; they're all human inventions. We created our gods in our own image. WE did it to ourselves.

Oppressive religious rules aren't the work of cruel gods; men wrote the rules and invented cruel gods to blame them on.

And it's not just religious cultures; every society finds ways to justify misogyny, whether it's women's "vulnerability" or "emotionality".

This is why feminism might actually be the most important movement ever; breaking that ONE bad idea would solve so many problems.

I think a lot of homophobia's tied up with misogyny; the idea that a man who has sex with a man is feminising - ie DEGRADING - himself.

Anyway, fuck all that today. Go Ireland!

This idea - that once you act on feminism then the patriarchal religions and associated values like homophobia inevitably start to crumble - is startling, huge, and rings true. It points to the victories we are heading towards, it acknowledges that the equal marriage referendum is a key milestone on that road, but also says that rather than letting this victory make us sit back, it should spur us onward.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Bringing Englishness to the English

I usually love Paul Mason's stuff, he's both radical and reasonable, credible enough to be given a job on Newsnight and, latterly, Channel 4 News.

In the wake of the SNP's march on Westminster, he's written about the lack of an English identity beyond the things that connect it to the wider world. His failure to see anything in English culture beyond 'public schools and the officers class... the tennis club belt around London' is frankly baffling.

Billy Bragg picked him up on it on Twitter and Mason replied that he felt

northern, British and proletarian [rather] than English. It has no resonance for me.

There's something of an irony there as he's from the Wigan area. The 'northern' he identifies with is northern England. If you look at Britain instead, as Mason says he does, that area is central.

People in socially oppressed groups are forced to be conscious of that part of their identity. Those in the privileged groups often don't even see the existence of their group, let alone the myriad mechanisms of oppression it foists on the rest. To them, they inhabit an unbordered blank, normal space that lets them act as they wish. A lack of consciously seeing yourself as English is, in some ways, a very English trait.

Someone may not think about, say, their cis-maleness and so would say it isn't part of their identity, but it has provided the norms that they embody, the behaviours they use every day. They are granted treatment and opportunities denied to people of other gender identity. They're playing the computer game on the easiest difficulty setting.

The three things Mason cites aren't English, they're class based. He sees them as salient because he's from the lower classes who are disadvantaged. Those actually in the tennis club, public school officer class are as likely to think of themselves as 'just normal' as any other socially dominating group. Seems implausible from down here, doesn't it? But remember the time when David Cameron said his wife was unusual for not going to boarding school? That.

The fact that English people tend not to see their cultural identity is a measure of its long-standing, unchallenged superior social position. As our immediate neighbours move towards terms of equality, we will start to see ourselves with the kind of depth that they have always had. We will begin to understand what we've been. And that's a lot more than public schools and tennis clubs.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Repealing Our Humanity

Six months ago it would have been quite a funny joke - if the Tories get a majority they'll repeal the Human Rights Act and replace it with a bill of rights drawn up by Michael Gove.

As axeman Education Secretary, Gove tore through at such a pace that by the time the opposition had mobilised his plans were all inked and in train. We can expect the same style in his new role as Justice Secretary. Already the Tories are making loud noises about prioritising their manifesto promise to repeal the Human Rights Act (except in Scotland) and having it in the forthcoming Queen's speech.

The tabloid press hate human rights because they protect us from the kind of breaches of privacy that make stories that editors salivate over.

Despite Tories, Ukippers and other right wingers using the blanket term 'Europe', the rights enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights are nothing to do with the EU. Leaving the EU wouldn't affect our human rights at all.

It's part of being a member of the larger, older Council of Europe. It was formed by the Treaty of London in 1949 as part of the rebuilding of Europe after the war and the effort to create stable structures that prevented such legal state horrors from being perpetrated again.

Far from being something imposed on us from outside, the UK was the first country to ratify the ECHR after years of enthusiastic input from someone who features on Tory and UKIP leaflets to this day.

Then there is the question of human rights… We attach great importance to this… we hope that a European Court might be set up, before which cases of the violation of rights in our own body of twelve nations might be brought to the judgement of the civilized world.

- Winston Churchill, Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe, 17 August 1949

The court came ten years later, in Strasbourg. It cost a lot of money to bring a case there. But in 1998 Labour brought in the Human Rights Act, which made the Convention enforceable in UK courts (and obliged government to ensure new legislation is compatible with the ECHR).

Repealing the Act doesn't actually remove our rights. It means that once again, you'll have to have the greater levels of time and money required to take a case to Strasbourg. So human rights will only effectively exist for the rich. The rest of us become not human, the rest of us become untermensch.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Sitting in the Spycops Priority Area

Further to the last post about police authorisation documents for Mark Kennedy's deployment for the Drax coal train action in 2008, there is a page in that sheaf by Anton Setchell, who was then the National Co-ordinator for Domestic Extremism (NCDE).

This was the person with oversight of three political policing units - Kennedy's National Public Order Intelligence Unit, the corporate advisory National Extremism Tactical Co-ordination Unit, and the National Domestic Extremism Team (if the tangle of units dizzies your brain, see this post).

That Setchell took the time to hand write a side of A4 just to be supportive of the renewal of Kennedy's deployment is significant. When they try to make out that Kennedy was some sort of rogue officer cut adrift, or lost in the murk of a shady unit nobody knew about, remember this detailed level of knowledge, oversight and approval from an Assistant Chief Constable.

I have today been briefed by [redacted] on this operation prior to it being forwarded to ACC Sampson [Assistant Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police John Sampson who gave authorisation for Kennedy’s deployment on the Drax coal train protest].

My role is not that of authorising officer, but as NCDE, to have the opportunity to comment on this deployment prior to the AO [authorising officer] reviewing the authority.

This operation has now had an SIO [senior investigating officer] appointed to help oversee it – [redacted]. The [redacted] aspect now has an investigative strategy developed which will seek to exploit evidential opportunities when they arise (amongst other things). 

[redacted] has reviewed this operation and some recommendations in his report (to be distributed soon) will be considered by [redacted], the SIO and the AO in due course.

This operation/deployment is focused on key areas of Domestic Extremism which I can say sit in the ‘priority area’ of DE for England and Wales and without this asset in place, our intelligence picture would be significantly reduced and I would seek to replace this asset very quickly to regain our understanding of the intentions of the DE groups that are listed.

I recommend that the authority continues.

Anton Setchell – National Co-ordinator DE

The authorisation for Kennedy's deployment on the Drax coal train action says it may lead to

involving Source [Kennedy] in actions connected to Climate Camp where the threat to the public is greater.

Yet the first official report into the spycops scandal was unequivocal about who Kennedy and his unit targeted. It said they

were not individuals engaging in peaceful protest, or even people who were found to be guilty of lesser public order offences. They were individuals intent on perpetrating acts of a serious and violent nature against citizens going about their everyday lives.

This is, by any measure, complete fucking horseshit.

Throw bricks or don't, it makes no odds as to whether your group is targeted as a threat by police. This could scarcely be more starkly illustrated by the Drax train action with its impeccable health and safety considerations, and Climate Camp which, try as they may, police couldn't get a riot out of, nonetheless finding themselves in the 'priority area' for the police's most intensive and intrusive infiltration. Meanwhile, a leaked email from Setchell's successor, Adrian Tudway, says that the English Defence League are not even considered extremists.

This is surprising not just because of the lack of threat to life and limb from Climate Camp, to some extent it's also what was represented politically. The primary target for 2007's Climate Camp had been Heathrow's proposed third runway, a plan that was scrapped in May 2010.

The Climate Camps at Drax and Kingsnorth were, like the Drax 29, trying to stop a new generation of new coal fired power stations. This is something that also became settled policy soon afterwards with the dropping of plans for a new station at Kingsnorth in October 2010, ending the age of new coal power in the UK.

In a peculiar twist, the announcement of the Kingsnorth plans being dropped came on 20 October 2010, the very day that Mark Kennedy was confronted and exposed. When that sort of thing is put in a film we think it's over contrived and wouldn't happen in real life.

In another, more predictable, turn of events Anton Setchell is now Head of Global Security for Laing O' Rourke, one of the construction firms involved in the illegal construction industry blacklist, which was illegally assisted by National Extremism Tactical Co-ordination Unit when it was under Setchell's command.

Rather than the terrifying 'threat to the public' that Kennedy's managers depicted, with the abandoning of airport expansion and new coal facilities Climate Camp can now be seen, by results, as heralds of the new orthodoxy.

There was a lot more radical intent behind Climate Camp politically, of course. It was always explicitly anti-capitalist, a position that seemed wackier when it started in 2006 but, since the crash of 2008, is another position that's proven itself more level-headed than its opponents. Yet, as the police response to fracking protests shows, such groups still 'sit in the priority area'.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

It's Not Just Activists

In June 2008 a group of 29 climate activists stopped a coal train bound for Britain's biggest source of carbon emissions, Drax power station. They were all convicted, but it was a miscarriage of justice as evidence had been withheld  from the defence - reports from one of the drivers, Mark Stone aka undercover police officer Mark Kennedy. The convictions were quashed last year.

Quite how many other wrongful convictions are being left to stand - hundreds? thousands? - is unknown. It's worth noting that Mark Ellison QC's report into it was projected to take a year and be published in March, yet we've still seen nothing, implying that it's turned out to be a larger task than aniticipated.

In the partially redacted papers that were disclosed in the overturning of the Drax 29's convictions we get an insight into the political secret police units' paranoia about political dissent and their cavalier attitude to citizens. with each authorisation they are forced to consider the 'collateral intrusion' into lives of those who aren't targeted, but in this instance it is blithely batted away.

On 24 April 2008 they write:

It is very rare for collateral intrusion to occur because [Kennedy’s name redacted] spends the majority of their time with likeminded people engaged in activism. [Kennedy’s name redacted] does have contact with ‘non activists’ (neighbours etc) which is unavoidable whilst appearing to live a ‘normal’ life but no product from these contacts is reported or retained.

[Kennedy’s name redacted] is an experienced UCO [undercover officer] well aware of their unique situation in the lives of members of the public and remains entirely focused on the objectives and subjects of the authority.

Kennedy's notebook describes dropping some of the Drax 29 on the protest and then glosses over 'a gathering' that he spends the next two days at. The word is 'gathering' common among grassroots activist groups that don't have hierarchical structure.

Friday 13th June 2008

I drove a van with a number of people in the back to a holding point for 0600 hours. A number of spotters were positioned along the train’s route to call in when a coal train was spotted.

At 0755 I drove to Gowdall level crossing. I pulled up and people got out the back of the van. I saw them walk up the track. I saw people in bright orange uniforms with a red flag walk along the track towards the Aire River rail bridge. I also saw a person using the telephone box linked to the signal box to warn the signal man that people were on the line at Gowdall and called C/O [probably ‘cover officer’ – Kennedy’s handler and link with the wider structure of the police].

I returned to Nottingham where I collected a number of marquees belonging to the ATC which were destined for a gathering in the Hope Valley. I travelled to the Hope Valley and co-ordinated the setting up of the marquees.

Sunday 15th June 2008

I co-ordinated the taking down of the marquees and returned them to the ATC in Nottingham store.

The 'gathering' was actually a wedding. Kennedy was the long standing friend of both partners, the following year he had a joint birthday party with one of them. There were many people there - children, partners, friends and relatives - who were not activists, and a number of them knew Kennedy well and had already formed significant friendships with him. He will forever be in the wedding pictures.

Did Kennedy tell his cover officer, with whom he was in contact numerous times a day, what was going on? Or are we expected to believe he made stuff up about it being a two day gathering of political discussion and planning? Essentially, was it approval or negligence by his managers?

He and his superiors were 'well aware of their unique situation in the lives of members of the public' and had no compunction about abusing it. There was no need for him to be at the wedding, apart from clocking up overtime. If this does not qualify as 'collateral intrusion' then nothing does.

As we already knew, you don't need to be an activist to have your life intruded upon by the political secret police.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Hillsborough: Why The Lie?

Former Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield
It's been an extraordinary week at the Hillsborough Inquests. The police officer in charge on the day of the disaster, David Duckenfield, gave evidence for four days.

Duckenfield was woefully inexperienced in 1989. With a poorly organised flow of fans arriving, there was a late build up of people outside the ground. Duckenfield ordered an exit gate open to give them access and that, combined with poor signage inside, led to the crush that killed 96 people.

Even as the disaster was unfolding, Duckenfield started lying. With their view from the press box down on to the terrace, Graham Kelly of the Football Association asked him what had gone wrong. Duckenfield said fans had forced the exit gate open.

In the hours that followed, he did not correct that. In the days after, he was part of the South Yorkshire Police's narrative that drunken, ticketless fans had caused the crush, an assertion that has since been comprehensively disproven.

There was a concerted effort to protect Duckenfield and the other senior officers. Officers were told not to write in their official pocketbooks and not to have clear memories before writing notes. Hundreds of police witness statements were altered to remove phrasing critical of the police.

When West Midlands Police were brought in to examine the South Yorkshire investigation, they harassed and threatened fans into retracting criticisms of the police. One fan who persisted had an officer question if he'd even been at Hillsborough, saying he could have got his bruised ribs anywhere.

All this stood for 24 years until the Hillsborough Independent Panel's report established a clear picture in 2012. There was no drunken mob of ticketless fans - the size of the crowd matched the number of tickets issued. The original inquests' assertion that everyone was dead of traumatic asphyxia by 3.15pm (thus preventing examination of anything that happened after that time) was nonsense. Many fans could have been saved.


The Panel's titanic work is not the end of the story. The new inquests are part of the ongoing process of uncovering the truth. To the surprise of many, this week David Duckenfield gave an unreserved apology to the families of those who died. Michael Mansfield QC, representing 75 families whose relatives were killed, asked why he had remained silent for 26 years.

Duckenfield said that he had been prompted to finally tell the whole truth after the publication of the report by the Hillsborough Independent Panel in 2012 and a television programme he had seen about the disaster’s effect on the families.

He said he had post traumatic stress disorder, and “hid myself away and could not bear the word Hillsborough” after the report was published, but then said he had begun to face the truth two years ago, with the help of doctors.

Whilst we must reserve our strongest sympathy for the victims and their families, whose pain has been prolonged by Duckenfield's silence, nonetheless it's obvious that anyone in his position would be highly traumatised and cannot be blamed for the impulse to hide from their actions.

But if he accepts responsibility he lays himself open to prosecution. So even now, after his appeal for sympathy and declaration that he's ready to tell the truth, he is avoiding basic admissions.

Coroner Sir John Goldring asked: “You are saying, are you, that a reasonably competent match commander would have foreseen where fans should go?

Mr Duckenfield said: “Yes.”

The coroner asked: “You are saying that a reasonably competent match commander would have closed the tunnel?”

Mr Duckenfield said yes.

The coroner asked: “Does it therefore follow - tell me if I have misunderstood - that on the day you did not act as a reasonably competent match commander?”

Mr Duckenfield said yes.

From this bald admission Rajiv Menon, lawyer for 75 families, tried to get an admission of gross negligence. Duckenfield, aware of his legal position, prefers trivialising terms for the 96 deaths that he is primarily responsible for.

Sir, my view is, it was an oversight, a mistake. I don't view it as negligence, and certainly never gross negligence.

An oversight. A mistake.


He went on to explain that fans were partly to blame for their own deaths. What evidence does he have?

I cannot say from first hand evidence that drunken and ticketless fans attended at the stadium. What I can say is I have heard various stories and I have picked up things as things have gone along, but my first hand experience is, I did not see any drunken ticketless fans... I hold the view that football fans played a part.

This unquoted, unattributed, unspecified assertion of stories and 'picked up things' is apparently enough to convince him that he's not to blame. It is a slap in the face for the people to whom he has said he will speak frankly and honestly. He still can't tell the truth.

Going back to the start of this, why did he lie on the day of the disaster? He told the inquests

I said something rather hurriedly, without considering the position, without thinking of the consequences

We all say wrong things in moments of panic. But that's not what Duckenfield did. He lied, then he repeated the lie.

After lying to Kelly, Duckenfield acknowledged he went to the boardroom at Hillsborough, where Tony Ensor, Liverpool football club’s solicitor at the time, has testified Duckenfield told him and others that Liverpool fans “forced open a gate”.

Duckenfield said he could not recall saying that, but agreed with [counsel to the inquests Christina] Lambert that he missed a “golden opportunity” at that meeting to correct the lie he had told Kelly. He said it was “a terrible fall from the standards that one would expect”.

But instead of any climb back up to decent standards, he chose to accelerate the fall. He actively, persistently wove the lie into a narrative that blamed his victims.

Last week he said

I’m an honest person, I don’t lie, I set high standards. Nobody can understand my behaviour least of all me.


Many of us really can understand his behaviour. The more power we hold, the more we have to lose. The first job of authorised power is to protect its position. There are few places that illustrate it more starkly than the police.

Even without Duckenfield's distraction from honesty and civic duty due to his personal position and loyalties (he was promoted to the masonic position of Worshipful Master the year after Hillsborough), this deflection of blame is second nature to police. We see it in routinely colluded statements that all give the same false story of an event, that exaggerate the threats they face.

Ian Tomlinson was killed by a police baton strike whilst standing in as unthreatening a position as humanly possible, yet the immediate police story was a complete lie claiming he had a heart attack whilst brave bobbies tried to save him under a hail of bricks and bottles.

Even after the footage came out showing the lethal attack, police refused to admit responsibility or even basic facts. The officer leading the investigation, Detective Superintendent Anthony Crampton, suggested to Tomlinson's family that the assailant was an anti-capitalist protester in a stolen police uniform. The Independent Police Complaints Commission said the idea was credible.

Imagine the gall, the overconfidence and the level of personal denial it takes to do that. Imagine how marrow-deep they must be. This isn't a family liaison numpty saying something off the top of their head. This is a high ranking officer with machinery and accomplices around him to fortify the lies that armour his - and, by extension, the police's - near-impregnable power.

It's exactly the same as Duckenfield and the officers of all ranks who collaborated in the lies, intimidation and destruction of evidence that formed the Hillsborough cover-up.

This is the inevitable result of a default tendency in the power of authority. Until that is consciously understood and addressed, automatic lies will continue.