Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Ian Blair, presented his ‘wish list’ of latest demands to the Labour government, when speaking to the Police Superintendents’ Conference on Wednesday.
He told these senior police officers: ‘We need to decide what constables can do which they are not allowed to do now. We need to decide what others could do now but only constables are allowed to do, or only constables are available to do.’
Blair spoke about the need for modernisation, reviewing changes in the NHS and Education.
He made it clear when he said: ‘One of the other ideas that can emerge from workforce modernisation is to have some police officers paid more, with more powers, to impose an interim ASBO, for instance, or suspend a driving license. We can go up an escalator of powers, as well as down and pay accordingly.’
The powers, the Commissioner is seeking, are those of the courts and magistrates, to convict and dispense sentences – for the police to become the judge, jury and executioner.
Beginning with an ASBO, he wants ‘an escalator of powers’ for the police, steps towards a police state. The Liberty civil liberties group spokeswoman Shami Chakrabarti likened Blair to ‘Judge Dredd’, dispensing ‘summary justice’.
Blair proposed to enlist troops and use them as firearms officers. He said: ‘Could we bring staff directly in from the armed services, give them a certain amount of basic training and then clear instructions as to their firearms duties, so that they would be partially warranted, on a fixed-term contract, to undertake only those duties?’
This is certainly ominous coming from the police chief who advocates a ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy on the streets of London and who justifies the murder of John Charles de Menezes at Stockwell Underground station by armed police, on July 22.
Labour MP John McDonnell was right to condemn Commissioner Blair’s remarks, saying: ‘This militarisation of the police will increase the risk that we run already, not just to our civil liberties, but to our very safety.’
He added: ‘This is not an issue for the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. This is policy and politics and not an issue for Commissioner Blair.’
Unfortunately times have changed. British capitalism is in a desperate crisis, with manufacturing industries decimated, imperialist adventures disintegrating and an escalating deficit in government finances.
These are times of war and an eruption of major class struggles.
The police chief is no longer behaving as a high-paid civil servant, carrying out policies decided by the government and parliament.
The nine tenths of the capitalist state (MI5, MI6, the army, police, judiciary, etc.), which is normally hidden in the background, behind the facade of elections and Parliament, is coming out into the open to defend capitalism against these threats to its existence.
Marxists understand that ‘the state is a product and a manifestation of the irreconcilability of class antagonisms’ (Lenin). The state is, in essence, ‘special bodies of armed men’ and their facilities.
Commissioner Blair is speaking up for these forces and outlining their political agenda to defend decrepit British capitalism and deal with the working class.
Over recent months, the Met’s chief has made clear that he is a political cop. Whatever he proposes, Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Labour government disposes.
When the Commissioner justified the fact that there had been a ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy in London since 2001, the Labour regime backed him 100 per cent.
The police chief called for new anti-terror laws to give police powers to hold suspects for 90 days without charge and Home Secretary Charles Clarke then presented this proposal as government policy.
Today millions of workers are driven into struggle against the destruction and privatisation of essential services, like the NHS, education and council housing. Millions are fighting for jobs and against poverty pensions.
As workers move into action to defeat the attacks of the Blair regime, it is clear that it is not merely necessary to bring down the Labour government. The police and army, the forces which protect this rotten and vicious capitalist system, must be disarmed and disbanded.
Only after this will a workers’ government be able to implement the necessary socialist policies, withdrawing troops from Iraq and restoring public services.