On the 27th of January, MPs voted 363 to 267 to remove restrictions put on the Covert Human Intelligence (Criminal Conduct) Sources Bill. Restrictions had been put on the bill by the House of Lords, these restrictions removed from the bill the legal right to commit serious crimes such as murder, torture and sexual offences and the disgusting use of vulnerable people and children as state operatives, ensuring that they are at grave risk. The reversal of these restrictions means that the state (including the police, the National Crime Agency, MI5, the armed forces and Prison service) are now legally allowed to commit such crimes and abuses of human rights.
This is clearly another example of how we do not live in a free society and in fact are now living in what is increasingly a police state. This bill has been rushed through parliament so it could deliberately escape necessary scrutiny. It has been helped along by the majority of the Labour Party, with its current leader, Sir Keir Starmer, whipping MPs to abstain on this repressive bill.
The Spycops scandal has revealed the disgusting and outrageous lengths to which the state is willing to go, in abusing innocent campaigners in the UK for decades, from environmental activists to trade unionists and campaigners for race equality. Even the grieving family of Stephen Lawrence did not escape this reach by the agents of the UK state.
Previously, prosecutors decided whether it was in the public interest to trial undercover police crimes. But this SpyCops Bill bypasses prosecutors entirely, allowing state agencies the unprecedented power to declare serious breaches of UK law ‘lawful’, as long as agents have an internal authorisation. As the law stood prior to this bill being passed, any prosecution against undercover police, etc., was in the public interest. Further, there has been no single instance of so called ‘rogue’ prosecutors going after police officers or MI5 agents for minor crimes that were committed in the course of their work, meaning that the supposed reason for this bill is unnecessary and false.
This is an attempt by the ruling class to make themselves and their state untouchable and it is only necessary for that purpose. This law gives legal loopholes and license to agents of the state to commit serious abuses of power. This bill encourages state agents to be instigators and agent provocateurs and to abuse people’s human rights.
Sir Keir Starmer, meanwhile, has made the arrogant, false and absurd claim that “there is no bigger advocate of human rights, me”. However, it is clear from Starmer’s record as Director of Public Prosecutions, Head of the Crown Prosecution Service and his appointment as Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath where he stands – firmly on the side of the ruling class and its oppressive state. Starmer upheld the decision not to prosecute the officers who killed Jean Charles De Menezes, and the police officer Simon Harwood, whose unnecessary and unprovoked physical assault caused the death of Ian Tomlinson. His record as Labour leader also shows which side he is on, whipping MPs to abstain, not only on this bill, but also on the Overseas Operations Bill, which makes it much harder to prosecute members of the military for human rights abuses such as torture and murder. Such a bill actively encourages such abuses.
Starmer claims that the Spycops bill guarantees that human rights abuses cannot be allowed, but this is not the case, as proved by the removal of restrictions and the capability and likelihood of loopholes to be used. In any case agents of the state have already proved (with the Spycops scandal) that they simply cannot be trusted not to commit such abuses. It has been proven that they can get away with it, with the approval of the British state.
The passing of this law shows the complete moral bankruptcy and failure of bourgeois democracy. It highlights the total failure of reformism and the capitalist system to uphold human rights and to protect people in the UK. It makes all agents of the state above the law. It shows us clearly and urgently that the only valid strategy against capitalism is that of militant revolutionary organising and upheaval. The state must be smashed and capitalism abolished.