FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Uproar in Police-State Britain

by DEEPAK TRIPATHI

The arrest and interrogation of Damian Green, one of Britain’s leading opposition politicians, by the counter-terrorism police (November 27, 2009) on ‘suspicion of conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office’ is an extraordinary event. Counter-terrorism officers searched his homes and offices in London and his constituency. He was questioned for nine hours and released on bail without charge, but must return next February for further questioning. The police action happened when the world’s attention was focused on the terrorist attacks in the Indian city of Mumbai.

The Conservative Party, the main opposition in the British Parliament that has been leading in opinion polls this year, is furious at the treatment of one of its star performers. In all probability, Green, a former journalist on the London Times, would be a minister if the Conservatives won the next general election. He had raised some uncomfortable questions for the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, and his government in the past year. In November 2007, he disclosed that the Home Secretary knew as many as five thousand illegal immigrants had been granted licenses to work by the Security Industry Authority, but decided not to make the information public.

In February this year, Damian Green revealed that an illegal immigrant had been employed as a cleaner in the British Parliament and raised questions over its security implications. Then there was a letter from the Home Secretary warning that a recession could lead to an increase in crime. He confronted the British government at a time when public concern over crime was rising. The Home Office later admitted that serious crime had been underestimated in official statistics. Green further made public the existence of a list of Labour MPs who could rebel against their own government’s draft legislation to extend the period of detention without charge to 42 days.

As I have already mentioned, the arrest and interrogation of Damian Green came on ‘suspicion of conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office’. This seems to be related to information passed on to him by a whistleblower in the Home Office – an official who saw government wrongdoing and brought it to the attention of a leading opposition MP. The episode has fuelled worries over the loosely-worded anti-terror laws pushed after 9/11 by Tony Blair, the previous prime minister, and their misuse to suppress information likely to embarrass the government.

A number of senior political figures were informed about the Conservative shadow minister’s arrest shortly before it happened. Among them were the Conservative leader David Cameron, the London Mayor who is responsible for running the Metropolitan Police Force and the Speaker of the British House of Commons. The Home Secretary and others in the government have flatly denied prior knowledge of the arrest. However, an ex-Home Secretary, Kenneth Clarke, says he cannot believe that ministers did not know in advance what was about to happen.

Reports and comments on how a prominent politician has been treated under anti-terror laws are all over the British press today. The London Mayor expressed his ‘trenchant concerns’ when told of the impending arrest. David Davies, former shadow home secretary who resigned in protest at the threat to civil liberties earlier this year, has called the situation ‘reminiscent to Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe’. The Conservative leader David Cameron has described the action as ‘Stalinisque’ and said the ministers have some serious questions to answer. “If the police wanted answers from him, why did they not pick up the phone,” Cameron asked.

The timing and possible motives of what has happened are worth considering?

Politicians, especially those in power, are very good at doing questionable things when there are bigger events taking place elsewhere. Damian Green’s arrest and interrogation happened when the British public was focused on the terrorist attacks in India – attacks in which there had been hundreds of casualties, including British. There were already numerous examples where anti-terror laws had been used against people who had nothing to do with terror. Journalists and researchers are under unprecedented pressure. Academics at British universities have all but surrendered to the shifting and arbitrary interpretations by the authorities of the meaning and causes of terrorism, to save their careers and to ensure funding for their projects. The picture is bleak. It shows that when governments are able to seize too much power, they abuse it to the detriment of citizens.
Was the arrest of one of Britain’s leading politicians, possibly a future minister, aimed at sending a message to lesser people in the country to close their eyes, ears and mouths? The good news is that the criticism of the police action has been swift, widespread and strong and has only begun. As a front-bench member of the British Parliament, Damian Green has ‘parliamentary privileges’ which would be hard to challenge. His actions are in the public interest. For this reason alone, the government would be foolish to prosecute him in court. Green says it is his job as an opposition politician to hold the government to account and he has every intention of continuing to do so.

DEEPAK TRIPATHI, former BBC journalist, is a researcher and an author. His works can be found on http://deepaktripathi.wordpress.com and he can be reached at: DandATripathi@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deepak Tripathi is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland. His works can be found at: http://deepaktripathi.wordpress.com and he can be reached at deepak.tripathi.writer@gmail.com.

May 04, 2016
Kshama Sawant
It’s Not About Bernie: Why We Can’t Let Our Revolution Die in Philadelphia
Conn Hallinan
Baiting the Bear: Russia and NATO
Joshua Frank
Hanford’s Leaky Nuke Tanks and Sick Workers, A Never-Ending Saga
Paul Craig Roberts
TIPP: Advancing American Imperialism
Ted Rall
Hillary to Bernie Supporters: Don’t Vote for Me!
Eric Draitser
Hillary Clinton and Wall Street’s Neoliberal War on Latin America
Leslie Scott
The Story of Jill Stein: Putting People, Peace and the Planet Before Profits
Ann Garrison
Building the Greens Into a Mass Party: Interview with Bruce Dixon
Tom Clifford
Crying Rape: Trump’s Slurs Against China
Lawrence Davidson
Getting Rid of Bad Examples: Andrew Jackson & Woodrow Wilson
Ellen Brown
Bank of North Dakota Soars Despite Oil Bust: A Blueprint for California?
Nelson Valdes
Is Fidel Castro Outside or Part of Mainstream Thinking? A Selection of Quotes
Jesse Jackson
Don’t Send Flint Down the Drain: Fix It!
Nathan Riley
Help Bernie Keep His Halo
Rivera Sun
Remembering Nonviolent History: Freedom Rides
Clancy Sigal
Rachel and the Isolationists: How Maddow Blew It
Laura Finley
Changing the Conversation About “The Woman Card”
CJ Hopkins
Coming this Summer … Revenge of the Bride of Sophie’s Choice
May 03, 2016
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Foreign Policy Resumé: What the Record Shows
Michèle Brand – Arun Gupta
What is the “Nuit Debout”?
Chuck Churchill
The Failures of Capitalism, Donald Trump and Right Wing Terror
Dave Marsh
Bernie and the Greens
John Wight
Zionism Should be on Trial, Not Ken Livingstone
Rev. John Dear
A Dweller in Peace: the Life and Times of Daniel Berrigan
Patrick Cockburn
Saudi Arabia’s Great Leap Forward: What Would Mao Think?
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Electoral Votes Matter: Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders vs Donald Trump
Chris Gilbert
Venezuela Today: This Must Be Progress
Pepe Escobar
The Calm Before the Coming Global Storm
Ruth Fowler
Intersecting with the Identity Police (Or Why I Stopped Writing Op-Eds)
Victor Lasa
The Battle Rages on in Spain: the Country Prepares for Repeat Elections in June
Jack Rasmus
Is the US Economy Heading for Recession?
Dean Baker
Time for an Accountable Federal Reserve
Ted Rall
Working for US Gov Means Never Saying Sorry
Dave Welsh
Hunger Strikers at Mission Police Station: “Stop the execution of our people”
John Eskow
The Death of Prince and the Death of Lonnie Mack
May 02, 2016
Michael Hudson – Gordon Long
Wall Street Has Taken Over the Economy and is Draining It
Paul Street
The Bernie Fade Begins
Ron Jacobs
On the Frontlines of Peace: the Life of Daniel Berrigan
Louis Yako
Dubai Transit
Bill Quigley
Teacher, Union Leader, Labor Lawyer: Profile of Chris Williams Social Justice Advocate
Patrick Cockburn
Into the Green Zone: Iraq’s Disintegrating Political System
Lawrence Ware
Trump is the Presidential Candidate the Republicans Deserve
Ron Forthofer
Just Say No to Corporate Rule
Ralph Nader
The Long-Distance Rebound of Bernie Sanders
Ken Butigan
Remembering Daniel Berrigan, with Gratitude
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail