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From The Socialist newspaper, 31 May 2007

Stop and question

A dangerous kite to fly

NEW LABOUR'S departing Home Secretary John Reid has flagged up the possibility of introducing a new law giving the police unprecedented powers to 'stop and question' anyone in Britain. The law, based on Northern Ireland legislation, would be even more draconian than the current 'stop and search' measures.

At present, under the 2000 Terrorism Act, police can challenge people, whether or not they are suspected of breaking the law, in areas considered at risk of terrorist attack, such as Westminster and around political party conference meetings. The new law would give police an automatic right to question anyone anywhere about suspected terrorism.

But such intrusive laws do not reduce the threat of terrorism that has increased mainly as a result of New Labour's Iraq policy. Only 1% of people arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, brought in throughout Britain against the IRA in the 1970s, were convicted of any crime. The 'anti-terror' legislation brought in after the 9/11 and 7/7 bombings has a similarly low 'success' rate.

The vastly increased 'stops' under existing legislation have led to very few charges and most of those on non-terrorist issues. These new proposals would instead alienate more people, particularly Muslims, and would fail to stop the threat of terrorism.

It brings back memories too of the infamous 'SUS' (suspicion) laws that were jettisoned after the police used the legislation to arrest hundreds of people, mainly in black communities. These led to protests and rioting in the 1980s.

New Labour are flying a dangerous kite to see whether the climate of opinion would allow for 'toughening up' the laws even further. Don't let Reid and Co. strengthen repression. The trade union movement must campaign against repressive laws that will in the end be used against trade union and workers' struggles.

Roy Sanderson

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
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  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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In The Socialist 31 May 2007:

No to McJobs


G8 Summit protests

Protest against the G8 leaders

Protest at arrest and prosecution in Bolivia


Socialist Party campaigns

Campaign brings victory against cuts

Local campaign successes show effective leadership in action

National Shop Stewards Network founding conference


International socialist news and analysis

Southern Ireland general election: Smaller parties squeezed

Wales - Labour rule under threat

Talking about the 'real world' at Wales TUC


Socialist Party news and analysis

A double bonanza for big businesss

Fight against destructive school policies

Stop and question: A dangerous kite to fly

Unhealthy surpluses on NHS underspend


Socialist Party feature

Defend and expand public housing


War and terrorism

Refugee camp siege compounds Lebanon's deep political crisis

Protesters cleared


Marxist analysis: history

The Merthyr Rising 1831


Socialist Party LBGT

Repression of Gay Pride in Moscow

Homophobia: it's not over


Socialist Party workplace news

Hull UNISON takes historic step

Remploy try to close factories


 

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Related links:

Terrorism:

triangleStreatham attack: Johnson's bill can't stop terror

triangleProtesting is not terrorism

triangleUnite against terrorism, racism, war and austerity

triangleFar right pose increasing terrorism threat

triangleHow 'Prevent' training fosters racist paranoia

Police:

triangleIrish police use Covid-19 emergency powers to disperse Dublin shop workers' protest

triangleTV review: The Trial of Christine Keeler

triangleThe Socialist inbox

triangleEyewitness report: workers' struggle in France on the boil

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