Pigs, Plebs and Tory scum
If you are a Tory government facing talk from trade union leaders of mass co-ordinated strike action - possibly even a general strike - in the coming months, then it might be a good idea to at least try and make sure you have the police on your side - they after all are going to be the people you might be using to help break strikes, maintain 'law and order' etc in the near future. Unfortunately for Cameron, the unconditional support of the police has been rather difficult to rely on recently amidst his plans to cut their numbers and raid their pensions - and the police have even organised marches in protest. Given this context, the words of Tory chief whip Andrew Mitchell to the police guarding Downing Street - 'Best you learn your fucking place ... You don’t run this fucking government ... You're fucking plebs' - not only epitomised the disgusting ingrained ruling class elitism of Cameron's government - and was not only particularly insulting to the police in question given the recent deaths of two cops in Manchester - but critically also appallingly bad strategy and tactics in the wider class war the Tories are currently waging on behalf of the rich against, er, us plebs. The fact that Mitchell's rant was leaked to the Sun tells you much about the bad tensions between the rank and file of the police and the Tories currently (though the current corruption exposed by the phone-hacking scandal reminds us of the pre-existing close connections between News International and the London Met Police...)
Yet the fact that Mitchell was not immediately arrested by the police officers in question for using 'foul and abusive language' also highlights the class nature of the law and the role of the police in society. The whole incident reminded me of a time I was arrested almost a decade ago 'for using foul and abusive language' during the Iraq war while taking part in an anti-war protest. A group of anti-war activists had got up early and were now lying down in a 'die in' outside the local BBC (in protest at their craven pro-war stance) in a fairly main road, blocking rush hour traffic. I was not actually involved in the 'die in' but was handing out leaflets nearby and joining in the chants of 'BBC - Propaganda TV'. Eventually a series of police riot vans showed up and about forty or so police leapt out of them. No doubt annoyed at having had their leisurely morning cooked breakfasts rudely interupted by reports of this protest, the police were not in a particularly good mood and started indiscriminately arresting protesters lying down in the road, with all the characteristic politeness and gentility one has come to associate with the British police (1429 deaths in police custody from 1990-2011). Together with another anti-war activist I began remonstrating with the police from the sidelines along the lines of 'Well done', 'What heroes you guys are', 'What a great democracy we are living in' etc.
This line of sarcastic commentary did not earn me the warmth of the police as they were going about arresting those involved in the 'die-in' and dragging them into police vans, and one massive police officer came up to me and told me to leave the area. I say told me to leave the area, essentially he started pushing me back - indeed nearly pushing me over. Though I did not argue at all and was slowly moving back, I was clearly not going back fast enough for the cop who then nearly shoved me over backwards. I remember saying something like 'What the f**k are you doing - I am moving back okay?' at which point he said 'If you swear at me again I will arrest you under Section 5 of the Public Order Act [or something along those lines]'. I was sceptical that nearly pushing someone over backwards and then threatening to arrest them for accidentally swearing was really fair - and so said 'What the f**k?' again - at which point I was promptly arrested by the cop for using 'foul and abusive language in a public area'. I was not ultimately charged - the police statement about what I allegedly had said was so manifestly self-evidently bullshit that I think they realised it was best not to pursue it in a court of law - but the point remains - the police are there to protect the interests of the rich and powerful - which is why even when a rich millionaire Tory like Mitchell openly acts like the absolute arrogant tosser he is there is no talk of him facing any kind of criminal charge. It seems a timely moment nonetheless to plug the following event:
Defend the Right to Protest 2012 National Conference
AUSTERITY, INJUSTICE & THE POWER OF PROTEST
Sunday 14th October, 2012, 11:30am – 5:30pm, University of London Union, Malet Street.