THOUSANDS of workers and young people in cities throughout the country, peacefully protesting against the Tory Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, were met with violent and brutal attacks from the police for the second weekend running.
In Bristol on Friday night, over 1,000 people holding a peaceful demonstration outside a police station were faced with riot police and charges by mounted police in a determined assault by the state to smash any opposition to the Bill – which was given its Third Reading in Parliament yesterday.
Thousands of protesters gathered in London, Manchester, Nottingham, Sheffield, Bath, Brighton, Cardiff and Bradford as outrage grows over a Bill that gives police powers to ban non-violent marches and static protests and introduces a new offence of ‘intentionally or recklessly causing public nuisance’.
Anything causing a ‘serious annoyance’ or ‘serious inconvenience’ or causes a ‘serious disruption to the country’s economy, political life and free speech’ will become illegal and result in massive fines and jail time. Such is the sweeping draconian nature of this Bill that it has clearly worried even some sections of the capitalist state.
In The Guardian newspaper at the weekend, Michael Barton, former chief constable of Durham, warned that the Bill is a dangerous move towards ushering in ‘paramilitary policing’ in Britain, and that the Tories are ‘flexing their muscles via their police forces’ similar to repressive regimes around the world.
Barton told the paper: ‘I’m not in favour of even more restrictive measures,’ and asked if the Tories are ‘happy to be linked to the repressive regimes currently flexing their muscles via their police forces?’
He lamented that the Bill represented a change from the police being ‘citizens in uniform’ into a ‘paramilitary-style police force’.
Barton is not the only former, very senior, police officer to be scared about the Tories unleashing paramilitary policing on the working class and youth and provoking revolution. He was joined by Sir Peter Fahy, the former chief constable of Greater Manchester and vice-chair of the police chiefs’ body, who said the proposed protest laws are a mistake and pose a danger to policing.
Fahy told The Guardian: ‘It reminds me of the miners’ strike when policing was mobilised for a political reason.’ In fact, there can be no ‘return’ to the supposed good old days where the bobby’s main job was to help the elderly across the road.
The Bill is a recognition by the ruling class of the necessity of the state to gear itself up to take on a working class that will not accept having the crisis of a bankrupt capitalist system dumped on them.
With the UK economy crashing into massive crisis, workers and young people are not prepared to passively accept mass unemployment and a vicious wage cutting regime to ensure the profits of the bosses – making a paramilitary-style police is exactly what capitalism requires today.
What is worrying these former officers is the fear of workers rising up against being driven into poverty in a revolutionary struggle for power.
In this confrontation between the classes, the Tories are relying on the leadership of the Labour Party to fully support them. While individual Labour MPs have stood up and condemned police violence in Bristol, Labour leader Keir Starmer attacked demonstrators blaming them for the violence saying: ‘I hope that the perpetrators are indentified and prosecuted.’
The Labour Party leaders are acting as the main social prop of British capitalism while the Tories are preparing to unleash its main physical prop – a police/military dictatorship to beat the working class into submission.
The only way forward is for workers and youth to break with these treacherous leaders and those in the trade unions who refuse to fight the Tories, and build the revolutionary leadership of the WRP that is prepared to mobilise the huge strength of the working class in a general strike to kick out the Tories and go forward to a workers’ government.
A workers government will disband the police and army replacing them with a workers state as part of building a socialist society.
This is the way to defeat the Bill.