Police federations and politics

In USA police “unions” are led by far-right protagonists.  Provocative rabble-rousing statements from USA police “union” leaders are infested routinely with support for police violence and with political bias; racism is the norm.

In UK police federations are becoming increasingly inspired by stance and power of their American counterparts.  The supposed aims of the federations – protecting their members’ job security, pay, working conditions, etc. – are being relegated to secondary considerations behind political activity.

The national police federation states an “aim” is “to influence internal and external decision makers at local and national levels on matters affecting our members and the police service.”

Among its activities Gloucestershire Police Federation includes

  • Act as a consultative body on legislative and political matters
  • Seek to influence the political agenda on policing

It is not incorrect for police officers to ask for assistance from the government but the wording above – “influence the political agenda” – is unambiguous.

Given the lack of mainstream opposition (in parliament and media) to Tory policy, UK police federations are now confident enough to declare their political position brazenly.  They know their political agenda will not be criticised by Tories, by Starmer’s obedient new New Labour or by newspapers, radio and TV.

USA police “unions” promote extremist politics similar to those promulgated by Donald Trump, Steve Bannon and Grover Norquist.  In UK there is only a slight difference in political perspective.  Police federations want Priti Patel and the Tories to go much further toward suppression and authoritarianism than they have so far.

Public servants?
Police forces are funded from council tax and there is further funding via the treasury from income and other taxes.  It would be a misnomer to describe police officers as “public servants” but they are paid by the public and, supposedly, act in the interests of the public by upholding the law.  The police are not supposed to be separate from the public.

Political desperation motivates current establishment onanism around statues and flags.  Distraction and dead cats are part of the intent of the flag noncery to cover emptiness of policy and no logical justification for government decisions.  The allowed environment of debate and discussion is narrowing so that everything is discussed within false commitment to patriotism.  Any deviation is uncritically depicted as unacceptable.  There is limitless absurdity of pseudo-patriotic exclamations and demands.

Language is being policed – no pun intended.  An example is a retort from Gloucestershire Police Federation Chair Steve James when police officers were described as “public servants.”  He said [1]technically we’re crown servants not public servants.”

Technically,” in terms of official wording of descriptions of police forces and their officers, James stated a fact but that wording is merely historical tradition.  His decision to assert the difference was informed by a desire to remove police from their commitments to serving the public.  He wanted to create separation between police and public.  He implied that police sit above the public as a controlling force that is commanded by bodies above the public.

Separation of police from public is a key facet of authoritarian control.  Often, the separation is hidden or denied but as desperation takes hold and backward patriotism pushes to the front any and all demonstrations of power and control are thrust into the public domain.

Cressida Dick, current commissioner of Metropolitan Police, former military intelligence officer and participant in death of Jean Charles De Menezes, said on the day of the head of state’s birthday that she remained the queen’s “humble servant.”  No pretence from the commissioner that she works for the public.

Declaration of political intent is welcome
Police violence is not new.  For over a century police violence is the norm when tackling effective political opposition.  When police declare their political intent behind their violence then some misconceptions disappear.  It is better to know where any organisations sit.  Let’s see and hear it, clearly.

[1] Steve James restricted access to his twitter account after posting his comments


Police federations and politics

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