What a difference a mere month makes in the UK media. At the end of March The Independent newspaper produced this article in the wake of the huge TUC anti-cuts protest in London, where the British Home Secretary was castigated for considering greater police powers to prevent such “trouble” again, with particular reference to the forthcoming royal wedding.
At the time former assistant commissioner at Scotland Yard, Andy Hayman, who had served as the head of the Metropolitan Police Counter-Terrorism squad and was, umm, reportedly a much-esteemed officer before his early resignation, adopted a muscular tone by calling for “snatch squads” and “dawn raids” to be carried out by police against suspected troublemakers. How terribly un-British.
Perhaps I’m starting at shadows, but with the above in mind two interesting aricles appeared in that very same newspaper today.
The first article that caught my eye confirmed there was indeed just such a security crackdown against suspected dissidents in the UK on the eve of the royal wedding. Lynne Owens, the Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner in charge of the royal policing operation, is quoted as saying:
““We have to be absolutely clear. If anyone comes to London intending to commit criminal acts, we will act quickly, robustly and decisively.” She said the Met was working with forces across the country and would use “spotters” to identify those causing trouble.”
The article goes on to say:
“As police teams step up their process of “pre-event investigation” and “intelligence gathering”, reports have come in from protesters that plain-clothed police are turning up at their homes to warn them against attending Friday’s event.”
It seems that the poor old Met is having conniptions about potentially embarrassing protesters sullying the pageantry of the royal wedding and is putting our money where its mouth is. Last week The Telegraph also reported that counter-intelligence operations were being conducted against “anarchists” to prevent trouble on 29th April.
Interesting use of language, but I suppose that one newspaper’s “protester” will always be another’s “anarchist”.…
So what of the second article that concerned me? This described the brutal security crackdown in Syria, where the secret police were pre-emptively hunting down and arresting suspected dissidents:
“Syria’s feared secret police raided hundreds of homes yesterday as authorities stepped up attempts to crush the pro-reform movement.….”
UK Foreign Secretary, William Hague is quoted as saying that:
“Syria is now at a fork in the road… it can choose ever-more violent repression which can only ever bring short-term security for the authorities there.”
How much more need I say? Putting aside the fact that Hague seems to have acquired his very own fork(ed tongue), the only discernable difference at this stage is in the sheer scale of the brutality and repression, not the mind-set or intent.
It’s a slippery slope.….