No Right Turn highlights the problem of police and security forces who often seem to consider themselves to be beyond the law. Their propensity towards excessive surveillance of people who are following peaceful and legal paths towards societal change without any evidence is rather legendary amongst activists on the left. The impression that most activists have is that some police just don’t like their politics. However surveillance of a councillor in the UK after they have been elected and while they are monitoring police activities as part of their job does mark a new low.
In 2000, Jenny Jones was elected to the London Assembly on a Green Party ticket. The moment she was elected, police started spying on her as a “domestic extremist”:
Two Green party politicians, including its candidate for mayor of London at the last election, have criticised police chiefs who recorded their political activities on a secret database that was set up to track campaigners deemed to be “domestic extremists”. Neither politician has a criminal record.
Official files show that the police kept a log of the political movements of Jenny Jones, a London assembly member and peer, over an 11-year period while she sat on the official committee scrutinising the Metropolitan police and stood to be London’s mayor.
They recorded a tweet she sent about possible police tactics at a pro-cycling protest, and details of public meetings she addressed about issues including police violence and Conservative cuts in public spending.
Police started recording the political activities of Jones and Driver after they had been elected to office. The files refer repeatedly to the elected positions the pair have occupied.
There’s no suggestion that Jones engaged in or advocated any unlawful activity. Instead, she did what we expect people who want to change society to do: pursued change by peaceful and lawful methods, by getting elected to office. And for this, she’s been treated like a criminal: tracked, surveilled, and databased, solely because the police didn’t like her politics. As she points out, its nothing compared to what they’ve done to others – “undercover police being sent to spy on a grieving family, and into the homes, lives and beds of women” – but its still a gross abuse of police powers. And it makes it clear who the real “domestic extremists” are: not the politicians who seek change through election, but the police who spy on them.
Its clear by now that the UK police are rotten to the core, and deeply engaged in political policing for their own purposes. They need to be cleaned out.