Police don’t serve the public–they oppress it


ON the eve of yesterday’s 15,000 strong Police Federation demonstration through London, against the staging of their 2.6 per cent pay award, reducing it to 1.9 per cent for the year, the General Secretary of the TUC, Brendan Barber, sent a letter of support to the chairwoman of the Police Federation, Jan Berry.

He wrote: ‘Dear Jan, I am writing with a message of solidarity and support for the Federation and all of your members in your campaign for pay justice.

‘All public servants (NL emphasis) deserve proper reward and recognition for the vital jobs they perform and the Government has made a disastrous mistake in refusing to honour, in full, the decisions of the Police Arbitration Tribunal.

‘The Government is plain wrong in seeking to impose across the public services (NL emphasis) below inflation pay rises, undermining in the process the integrity of the independent pay determination machinery that has contributed so much to industrial relations stability.

‘Other public service workers and their unions (NL emphasis) are, like you, determined to press Government for a new approach.

‘Today your members are showing their resolute determination to win fairness. All good wishes in your campaign.

‘Yours sincerely, Brendan Barber, General Secretary.’

In this letter Barber describes the police force repeatedly as public servants, and states to the police federation leader that ‘other public service workers and their unions are like you’ pressing the government ‘for a new approach’.

The message is that we are all the same, that the police federation is a trade union, and a public sector organisation along with other trade unions.

The unstated implication is that we are the same, that we should unite, and that the police federation might even think of becoming part of the TUC.

Here Barber is peddling the line that the police force are public sector workers who just happen to be wearing a uniform.

Once on that slippery slope it is not long before it becomes ‘evident’ that the armed forces are also made up of workers in uniform, and that the TUC should be sending messages of solidarity to them.

Of course the police are not public servants. In fact they are the enemies of the public, that is the working class, and are a central part of a machine of oppression, the capitalist state.

This capitalist state is made up of bodies of armed men whose duty it is to maintain capitalism and the rule of the capitalists and bankers through force of arms. In the UK in the last 25 years there have been plenty of examples of organised police attacks on the working class and on the public sector trade unions.

We have seen the concentrated police violence against the miners in 1984-85, with thousands of miners injured, with a number killed on picket lines.

This was followed by the year-long printers strike from January 1986-87, when after Rupert Murdoch sacked 6,000 printers, there were daily police attacks on the printers for a whole year.

In 1990 there were the massive marches against Thatcher’s Poll Tax, complete with riot police attacks on the demonstrators.

This role has been developed with the emergence of police death squads, who can kill without the risk of facing a murder trial. Two of the most notorious of these are the Harry Stanley and Jean Charles de Menezes killings.

The first was on September 23, 1999, when the 47 year-old Stanley was shot dead by police because they thought that a coffee table leg he was carrying in a plastic bag was a shotgun.

The second was on July 22, 2005, when Jean Charles de Menezes had seven bullets fired into his head from close range while another policeman was holding him down.

The police are a central part of the capitalist state. Far from being public servants, they are the oppressors of the public.

Very shortly they will be ordered to use violence against the many public sector trade unionists who will strike against Brown’s three year wage cutting pay policies – and they will do it!

In fact, to go from capitalism to socialism the police forces of the UK will have to be broken up and disbanded with the rest of the capitalist state and replaced with a workers state that will defend the interests of the working class.