The exposure in yesterday’s Observer that the blacklisting of 3,200 construction workers via the building employers’ front body, the so-called Consulting Association which had previously been known about, was actively aided by the police and security services raises alarming questions about the rise of a police state in this country because this is only the latest of several sinister developments in policing.
Thatcher used the police in in a highly partisan manner as a paramilitary force to break the miners, and again to beat down by force the Wapping strike a year later. More recently top-level police officers have been found colluding with News International over extensive phone-hacking or accepting bribes for the supply of newsworthy information. The Macpherson report in 1999 uncovered institutional racism within the police, particularly the Met. And the repressive use of force against the G20 demo, the repeated use of kettling against non-violent protestors, and the use of under-cover policing which was allowed to get completely out of hand with agent provocateur tactics and even extra-marital lisisons all point to a police role, not as protector of individual rights, but rather as instruments in any authoritarian crackdown which the government or its corporate associates want.
But even against that background of highly partisan policing these latest revelations are still deeply shocking. There is no threat of violence which might justify police involvement, only the desire of building emplyers running dodgy sites to escape prosecution for health and safety infringements when building work is the most hazardous of all occupations. In effect here are police conniving with the employers in the breach of the law and depriving over 3,000 workers whose details were found on the Consulting Association database from obtaining their most fundamental right to a job.
I have put down a PQ demanding a public inquiry into the involvement of the police and/or MI5 in the supply of clandestine information designed to prevent certain individuals, nearly always trade unionists, from getting work. I have also put down another PQ asking the Home Secretary to refer to the DPP for investigation and possible prosecution the 44 construction firms found on the Consulting Association database as having used the services of this body to blacklist up to 3,200 building workers in order to deny them work on building sites. There also needs to be a debate in Parliament on this shocking abuse of basic individual rights, though no doubt the government will do everything it can to prevent it.