27 October 2009

The REAL extremists in society go unchecked and unnoticed

Excellent articles by Mark Thomas and Henry Porter on the continued growth of the UK's police state - in particular, the use of a covert surveillance network to monitor "domestic extremists".

"Domestic extremist" is a new category which encompasses such "dangerous" people as anti-war demonstrators, climate change activists, and animal rights protesters.

As the Guardian reports,

Three national police units responsible for combating domestic extremism are run by the "terrorism and allied matters" committee of the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo). In total, it receives £9m in public funding, from police forces and the Home Office, and employs a staff of 100...

Surveillance officers are provided with "spotter cards" used to identify the faces of target individuals who police believe are at risk of becoming involved in domestic extremism. Targets include high-profile activists regularly seen taking part in protests. One spotter card, produced by the Met to monitor campaigners against an arms fair, includes a mugshot of the comedian Mark Thomas.

ACPO seems to be largely unaccountable to the public and is exempt from Freedom of Information requests as it's a private body - as this letter makes clear.

So what we have is a situation where unaccountable covert operations are taking place to monitor people who in most cases have committed no crime and have no criminal record.

Even if you do something as anodyne and uncontroversial as going to an anti-war or climate change demonstration, or attending a public meeting about airport expansion, you could be a candidate for tracking via the automatic number-plate recognition system.

When confronted with the notion that this surveillance of people who have done nothing wrong - and are very unlikely to do anything wrong, except if you call embarrassing the government being wrong - was unacceptable, Anton Setchell, national co-ordinator of domestic extremism operations for ACPO, retorted: "everyone who has a criminal record did not have one once."

Of course, that's an argument for 24/7 surveillance of the whole population. Which is where we're headed - by stealth. This country is becoming surveyed up to the eyeballs (or the camera-eye-balls) and we are making it easier for an authoritarian dictatorship to take over in the next few decades than you can possibly imagine.

Perhaps most annoying about this is that some of the biggest extremists in our society - for example, the kind of homophobes that beat up a police trainee in Liverpool earlier this week - aren't being tracked at all. Despite the fact that they are causing far more violence than any climate change protester. It's hard to avoid the conclusion that ACPO's definition of what constitutes a 'domestic extremist' is determined by its political agenda - which is extreme right wing.

Other dangerous groups who seem to have so far escaped surveillance as domestic extremists are:

  • the UK Conservative Party, which is a European alliance with neo-Nazi homophobes from Latvia and Poland;
  • the current leadership of the Roman Catholic church, which is forging an alliance of reactionaries by poaching the most conservative elements of the Church of England;
  • the war criminal Tony Blair.
It's a crazy world when innocent people are molested for going about their business, while the real nutters are allowed a free rein. But what can you do?


Van Patten said...

Lest we forget that the government appears to have taken Pyongyang aqs its blueprint. It is deeply and profoundly distrustful of any type of libertarian argument. People must not be free to drink/smoke or indeed do anything in the privacy of their own home, even.

In North Korea movement even between settlements is impossible without the necessary permits, and whilst it may seem far fetched to assume that would ever happen here, who would have thought in 1990 that smoking in public places or something like wild pest control (foxhunting) would be technically illegal?

I don't know about the incident in Liverpool - For me the motivation was largely irrelevant. The whole idea of a 'scale' of reprehensibility when dealing with crimes like assault or Actual Bodily harm struck me as ridiculous. If you're beating someone up, that is in of itself a crime. to add a greater tariff because the attack was motivated by 'race' or the linguistically atrocious 'homophobia' seems to me likely to encourage both racism or homophobia or even worse 'unwitting racism' or 'unconscious homophobia'. (Both quasi scientific terms invented to describe purely theroretical concepts and seen in the Guardian, which based on my reading of it last week is so far to the left it seems beyond satire) Assault and ABH remain criminal offences and to suggest that the old lady mugged because of her frailty is somehow less of a victim than a gy person is frankly insulting to both parties.

In terms of the threat they pose, we can see the real extremists are 'climate change' protesters, who appear to think that bypassing any type of law making process is justified by a frankly ludicrous theory, helpfully blown to pieces by the excellent Christopher Booker in his new book ' the real Global warming disaster'. The likes of 'Plane stupid', with ridiculous stunts at almost every London airport costing the country millions in terms of flight delays and lost prodcutivity need to be treated as the irritating little bugs they are. That someone is keeping an eye on them is a source of comfort, not concern.

As for anti war protestors,Based on the famed statement by the Respect mayoral candidate, Lindsay German, herself a Stasi agent of long standing, that George W.Bush was the 'least welcome visitor ever to these shores', a statement excluding both Nicolae Ceaucescu and Robert Mugabe (Sadly her idols Leonid Brezhnev and Josef Stalin nevere reached these shores) they need to be monitored for their sanity as much as the general safety of anyone else.

My correspondence with PETA consisted of me asking when the 'next phase' of their programme was to be implemented. Based on their previous policies (Barring foxhunting, harsh measures against fishermen , etc) which appeared to be a direct echo of the German NSDAP (the law on hunting in Germany to this day remains almost indentical to the one introduced by Hermann Goering in 1933), I assumed forced detention of undesirables (presumably meat eaters and pet owners rather than Jews) and Konzentrationslagerung were around the corner. This provoked a predictably furious reaction which only served to confirm my suspicions about the organisation's misanthropic bent.

Thus whilst I agree we appear to be sleepwalking into a surveillance state with technology that North Korea would be envious of, and that this is undesirable, the choice of targets, at least, is spot on in terms of the threat they pose - most of them would be quite at home in the North Korean Secret police.

giroscoper said...

One way of looking at foxhunting is 'pest control'. For me, the real 'pest control' would be setting the dogs on some of these wankers who go round in silly outfits terrifying wild animals. Let's see how they like it.

You raise an interesting point with the idea of a scale of reprehensibility. If a gang goes round beating up passers-by irrespective of race or sexual orientation are they any better than a gang that just beats up black people, for example? Probably not. Having said that, the fact that there are groups of people who target (for example) gay people specifically because they're gay, whereas there are no corresponding groups that target straight people specifically because they're straight, does mean that gay people are more vulnerable. Until the 'heterophobic' criminal gangs start roaming the streets, I'll continue to believe that gay people need additional protection from nutters like Nick Griffin and the far right.

Climate change protestors should really be receiving public funding in a significant quantity. They are one of the only groups of people who are increasing our chances of avoiding total climate catastrophe, however marginally.

Plane Stupid make a very important point about the need to reduce the amount of flying we do if we are going to bring carbon emissions down. You sound like you're looking forward to dying from the effects of climate change as quickly as possible. Christopher Booker is a professional contrarian who has seen that the terrible quality of the UK print media (e.g. Telegraph, Express, Mail) makes it possible to earn a living spouting nonsense. There are several blogs out there that point out in painstaking detail why climate change sceptics are talking crap.
Try here for starters.

I'd have put Pinochet ahead of Bush myself, and yes, you're right, Ceaucescu and Mugabe as well. But what's that got to do with being an anti-war protester? You think all anti-war protesters are supporters of Robert Mugabe? Get real.

Likewise, you seem to think that because someone opposes foxhunting they're a Nazi. It's a POV that's sadly, too ludicrous to engage with seriously.

Van Patten said...

Sadly I fear that the POV you refuse to engage with is part of an almost total flight from reality. The individual who is confounding the 'climate change sceptics' on the link you post is wearing a baseball cap and comes across about as effectively as William Hague circa 1999. His arguments appear wholly specious and prior to the taking over of the UK Education system by the Hard left, a skilled child could have taken the 'arguments' such as they ae to pieces. Booker is the one of the few journalists of any hue to expose the gigantic fraud that is the EU. Based on his record and the incresingly frantic squeals of the Global warming (see, you've even originally conned me into using their new terminology - climate change is the greatest example of smoke and mirrors I think ever perpetrated) lobby I know who my money's on in terms of their likely veracity.

You might as well say that Religious people need protecting from people such as yourself. The activities you suggest would be just as reprehensible if a gang went round terrorising Old ladies. Quite why we need a 'specific law' to protect homosexuals remains unclear.

The mindset of a PETA activist is at one with the mindset evinced in Pyongyang. Indeed all three of the groups you mention share in common a distinct desire to control people's free movement/ free thought (particularly acute in the case of the 'pro Global warming lobby') Indeed, the term 'Islamofascist' is certainly aplicable. The mindset of such people shares much in common with that of an Islamic fundamentalist.

In terms of 'pest control' one hopes that you seldom have occasion to encounter foxes or indeed a variety of other wild animals (Deers, Rabbits and Badgers for example) whose cost to the Uk consumer (and certainly the agricultural sector) is considerable.

In short, you fail to convince on any count, resorting to simply dismissing the argument made. You offer nothing beyond the usual inquantifiables as evidence of Global Warming and appear impervious to any argument against it. Sadly for you, it looks like this year's economic recession will mark the high water of the 'Global warming' lobby's influence, and hopefully this insane rush to control people's lives to the minutest degree can be swiftly ended - with any luck be judicious use of the surveillance (such as finding out if the 'Plane stupid' people are receving taxpayers' money and if so, stopping it completely) you decry can hasten the argument's demise.