Monday, October 21, 2013

Plebgate Proves You Are What You Own

The Plebgate affair, in which police stitched up MP Andrew Mitchell, has provoked a storm of criticism about police lying and corruption. You'll get that sort of support and outrage if you're a public school educated banker turned Tory MP. The rest of us, even when attacked en masse, find it's the perpetrators who get all the help the desire.

The construction industry blacklist is a major scandal any way you look at it. Thousands of people had their details held on an illegal database, used by most of the major construction firms to vet workers. People were denied a living because they wanted to unionise a workplace, or even because had tried to get workplaces to adhere to proper health and safety practices including those dealing with asbestos.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission says that gathering information for the construction industry blacklist seems to have been a normal, ongoing part of Special Branch work. Pete Francis, the whistleblowing ex-undercover Special Branch cop, said in August that as well as infiltrating protest groups, he believes his intelligence was used in the blacklist.

It reflects what was revealed in the McLibel trial, where a large corporation used illegal methods to stifle fair criticism from activists. More than this, both cases show that a two-way illegal exchange of information between police and corporate spies was a matter of routine.


Secret operations, by their nature, are not often exposed. Does anyone think McDonald's is the only corporation to use spies in such a way, or just the only one well documented thanks to legal disclosure? Is construction the only industry to use a blacklist, or just the only one that's been caught?

Why would other industries not use such proven effective tactics to defend their power and profits?

In the summer we learned that the police's Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) had a list of over 100 blue-chip companies that had employed spies who used illegal methods (and that number was described as 'the tip of the iceberg').

It followed in the wake of the tabloid phone hacking scandal, but none of the companies on the list are in the media. It's banks, oil, construction (of course), pharmaceuticals - mostly household names, all giants.

SOCA had known about all this criminality for years yet had kept it secret. Its chair, Sir Ian Andrews, explained that revealing these crimes would

substantially undermine the financial viability of major organisations by tainting them with public association with criminality.

There. Right there. That is a bald admission that protection of corporate profit is more important than bringing known corporate criminals to book, or letting the public know what crimes are being committed against them.

Andrews is right - people would be put off a company if they knew how devious and criminal it really was. The same applies to individual citizens who commit crimes, yet they are all publicly named despite the impact it will have on their lives and livelihoods.

But very few citizens can compete with the importance of corporate profit in the eyes of the powerful and their protectors in the police. The automatic, unthinking, active protection of power extends to the watchpoodle bodies that are supposed to keep the police in check and, in turn, the public figures who watch the watchpoodles. It takes a Tory MP being fitted up in Plebgate for the Opposition to say the Independent Police Complaints Commission needs to be replaced.

Last week, the Mark Duggan inquest and the partners of undercover police were in the Royal Courts of Justice, but they are just ordinary citizens to be treated like, well, plebs. So when the IPCC has colluded with the police in those cases, and to cover up crimes in the cases of Hillsborough, Jean Charles de Menezes, Ian Tomlinson, Leveson and untold instances of individual violence and racism, it is fine. The victims aren't rich enough. You are what you own.

Not only will corporations do whatever they can get away with to increase profits, but they will be assisted by the agencies of the state that claim to protect us.

People ask why Mark Kennedy and the secret police infiltrated groups that were no physical threat to anyone. It is because there is no distinction made between the threat to life, the threat to corporate profit or the threat to police credibility. All of them are perceived as dangerously subversive and they must be stopped, in the words of the motto of the secret police's Special Demonstration Squad, 'by any means necessary'.

No comments: