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Editorial: Functions of the secret state laid bare

THE undercover policing inquiry has moved on to look into the management of the spycops operation.

This will hopefully throw more light on the strategic thinking that guided Scotland Yard’s Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) and the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU), which between them infiltrated and surveilled more than 1,000 protest groups over four decades.

This spycops scrutiny is forced upon our secret state by the quite heroic stand of the women who were tricked into relationships with undercover cops. 

With their political and legal allies, and a tenacity and organisation that proved greater than that of the state, they have lifted a corner on its secret operations. They deserve our admiration and our gratitude.

The polite fiction is that the police are principally concerned with public order. An extra cloud of fiction is provided by the idea that the police are the guardians of a society threatened by the uncontrolled passions of the disordered masses or, alternatively, the disorder of masses manipulated by malign elements.

In truth, these concerns play a relatively small part in the thinking of the functionaries who the British state charges with doing its thinking.

The main focus of the state is in intelligence gathering the better to inform its interventions. It pursues this objective with a bureaucratic obsession with detail that astounds the casual observer when it is revealed.

The essential function of the secret state is to protect both its political institutions and the system of property relations on which these are founded.

To anyone surprised by the tenacity and energy with which socialist Germany’s Stasi discharged these functions would be equally surprised by the extent to which its industry was matched by the Teutonic efficiency of its US-supervised opposite numbers in defence of the constitutionally sanctioned West German capitalist order.

Britain differs from this example only in that its police/military doctrine is informed by a more extensive experience of colonial policing than Germany and by the size and reach of its electronic intelligence-gathering operation, which is even more deeply embedded with the US intelligence establishment.

Two lessons from the declining value of wages

THE Bank of England warns that Britain will go into recession this year as energy price rises push inflation above 10 per cent. 

When this information went public, sterling fell to a two-year low. Blithely predicting a severe fall in household incomes, the bank’s monetary policy committee voted to squeeze them even more and ramped up the interest rate.

This feeds immediately into a raise in mortgage-payers monthly outgoings and will drive further rent increases which are already 15 per cent up.

The bank’s boss, Andrew Bailey, said he was worried about inflation fuelling pay rises. Doing his bit, he said he would refuse a pay rise this year and scrape through on £575,000 (plus pension contribution).

The boss of Scottish Power has warned that energy bills throughout Britain with go up by another £1,000 in October.

From last month the shift from so-called “legacy benefits” to universal credit means more than a million will face cuts in their income while an additional twist in the knife is that the “transitional protection which maintains their old level of benefit will not be increased in line with inflation.”

Trade unions are already responding to the pressing need of workers to buttress their incomes against this almost unprecedented rise in the cost of living.

Two things we know about the declining value of wages. First, employers will resist pay claims. There will be disputes. Strikes will increase.

Second, if wages do not rise (or prices, interest rates and rents are not frozen or reduced) there will be more than disorder.

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