Quick update on this issue. The print edition of the Observer today runs an article under the headline: Police share anger of protesters over spending cuts as union march looms. Here’s the online version:
I still have some problems with the way the police spokesperson describes the current situation for the police, for example:
“The great irony is that officers policing marches like the TUC are actually facing greater detriment than many of those protesting against the cuts”.
To me this implies that the greatest police concern (at least as it is articulated here) is their own terms and conditions. I hugely sympathise with all those who (like me) are facing worse terms and conditions of employment, or job losses, in the coming months and years because this government is making public services pay for the failings of the banks and their (government) regulators. But the March 26 March is not about individual terms and conditions, or even individual services and sectors. The march is about the future of public service in this country. This is the reason for the march:
Government spending cuts will damage public services and put more than a million out of work. They will hit the vulnerable, damage communities and undermine much of what holds us together as a society.
We shouldn’t be measuring whose cuts are bigger or smaller, whose cuts hurt more or less. This is about the society that we are. The society that we want to be. When a job is lost is it better or worse that it is a police officer’s, a nurse’s, or a family support worker’s? Let’s not play that game. Cuts in one service shunt problems into another service to be dealt with there. In this sense, we really are all in it together.
Some of the divisions between the police and other protesters have been played out in responses to my blog from last weekend.
some excellent points raised there. My concern is that you failed to mention the mindless thugs in the last protests who destroyed the real reason the genuine protesters were there for and that’s why certain tactics had to be used. You can’t stand there and sift out those causing trouble from those that are not because as you know, they disappear among the genuine protesters. #solidarity #ProtectOurPolice
so who do I as an officer complain to when bottles of piss, fence posts ripped up concrete fire extinguishers etc are thrown at me by people hidden amongst the genuine protesters? Do I run home to my mum? No, I have to stand there and take it. Is that fair? No!
I’m all up for suggestions. I would like you to give my management a better idea for controlling demos when they go badly wrong and if you can prevent the “rent a mob” who hijack lawful demos. As most cover the face they cannot be seen on cctv and therefore harder to trace. Trouble is, its difficult to work out whos who and most importantly….who can be trusted not to spoil it for those that are there.
@SaadaabJanaab replied firmly:
no-one’s saying you should! You go and arrest that bastard and there’ll be plenty of us willing to help…
I shouldn’t have to suffer for said individual and neither should thousands of innocent people… Even if you can’t spot the perp there and then, kettling huge crowds does nothing to increase the likelihood of you catching that person, and only turns more people against you. If anything, we’re all at greater risk by being contained and even if there is cctv footage of the criminal, and I accept that kettling could be a way to scour the crowd trying to find them – but police don’t enter kettles, you’re just as likely to find that person out of the kettle ie next day etc, the cost (I don’t mean monetary) of holding all those people is far less than what you’ll achieve.
I can see both points of view. But these disagreements need to be put to one side on 26 March. I understand that individuals and communities who have been on the receiving end of some of the gross injustices caused by poor policing in the past will find it hard, if not impossible, to stand up for the interests of a strong, well-funded, well-managed police service. But standing shoulder to shoulder with people we like and agree with is not #solidarity. It is tribalism.
Solidarity means standing side-by-side with people with whom we have disagreements, people we don’t like much, maybe even people we can’t stand, because the common interest that we share – at that moment – is bigger than the causes of our disagreements and dislike.
My own sector – children’s services – supports vulnerable children, young people and families. Children, young people and families are hugely, disproportionately affected by the current round of cuts, both to direct benefits that they receive and to the support services they rely on. Yet our young people represent and carry all our best hopes for a civilised future. I am marching in their interests, not my own, on 26 March.
I will resist any policing that infringes my democratic right to protest this injustice. But I will stand in solidarity with any member of the police force who is happy to stand by me in support of jobs, growth and justice.
See you there.
Postscript: @PoliceFedChair rather making my point for me this morning in these tweets:
@nick_clegg @lfeatherstone @MrCliveC Did the LibDem manifesto really promise 3,000 extra police? & the students think they’ve been let down!
@lfeatherstone Do LibDems support 20% cuts to policing that’ll hit the most vulnerable in society most. NHS 0%, Defence 7%, Police 20% Why?
Police pay review b’cos G’vnt & Winsor say we’re paid more than some in the public sector. Why no review then for judges, doctors & MP’s?
Instead of setting police up in ‘competition’ with other individuals or sectors facing cuts (and don’t believe the NHS is immune because of the technical 0% change in funding – there’s a catastrophe happening in the NHS right now) how about pushing for Jobs. Growth. Justice. that will benefit the nation through having good public services and infrastructure across all sectors.
It’s a strain to hold onto #solidarity when a potential partner seeks differentiation in this way. But we need to hang onto it.