ON TUESDAY, Norman Tebbit, former Tory minister in the government of Margaret Thatcher, proudly announced that while he was employment secretary from 1981-83 he regularly received briefings from the police and special branch about trade unions and the activities of trade unionists.
So detailed were these reports that Tebbit boasted he even knew where trade unionists went on holiday.
Tebbit made these revelations at a parliamentary meeting organised by Labour MP Richard Burgon about the ongoing Mittings Inquiry into state spying on trade unions.
Tebbit freely admitted that during his time as employment minister he held frequent meetings with Frank Chapple, the right wing general secretary of the electricians union, the EEPTU.
The EEPTU was expelled from the TUC in 1987 for its strikebreaking activities against printworkers during their year-long strike against the newspaper empire of Rupert Murdoch.
According to Tebbit these meetings discussed how to deal with ‘activists’ in the unions.
Chapple and the EEPTU may have been kicked out but the state’s police spies continue their work in the trade unions and are continuing to report to the Tories.
On November 6th last year, the Undercover Policing Inquiry, chaired by Sir John Mittings, was told that infiltration by undercover police of trade unions dated back to at least 1973.
The use of undercover police infiltrating trade unions became public in 2009 when the offices of the Consulting Association, a blacklisting organisation used by construction industry bosses, were raided and it was revealed they held information on workers that could only have come from the police or other security services.
This led to further revelations about the role of the Special Demonstration Squad which ran these undercover cops and the infiltration of unions, left wing organisations and other campaigning groups.
The outcry over the ‘spy cops’ scandal forced the Tories to set up the Mittings Inquiry which has been limping along since 2015 determined to whitewash the state spying. From the very outset, the trade unions have insisted the inquiry must include an investigation of spying on the unions, pointing out that Peter Francis, a former undercover officer, had admitted personally spying on six unions – CWU, FBU, NUS, NUT, UCATT and Unison.
The only new thing about Tebbit’s revelation is that he has confirmed what every trade union member already knew, namely that these spies are reporting directly back to government ministers.
Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said: ‘The Mittings Inquiry into undercover policing has a clear duty to investigate exactly what information was passed to the government, about whom and for how long. Former ministers including Norman Tebbit need to account for their actions and explain why they approved of spying on entirely lawful organisations.’
The Mittings Inquiry has only one clear duty and that is to protect and cover up the state’s illegal activities against the unions and perfectly legal campaign groups.
Last year, the Tories with the support of the Labour leadership, passed the Covert Human Intelligence Sources Bill that gives the police and security services the legal right to commit any crime, including the right to kill, free from prosecution.
This week, the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill passed its second reading in the Commons.
This Bill will give the Tories and police sweeping powers to stamp on any protest or demonstration that threatens the ‘security’ of capitalism.
The Mittings Inquiry is becoming largely irrelevant as the Tories give police spies not just a licence to infiltrate but to kill at the same time, as the state has assumed the powers to outlaw any demonstrations, including strikes, that threaten to disrupt capitalism.
The capitalist state is desperate to protect its apparatus of police spies as it prepares for an all-out war against the working class and their unions to impose the full weight of the economic crash firmly on the backs of workers.
There is only one way to defeat the spies of the capitalist state and that is to smash the capitalist state itself with a socialist revolution that will expropriate bosses and the bankers and replace bankrupt capitalism with a socialist planned economy.