As many of you in the UK will be aware, it was revealed in Monday’s Guardian and Channel 4 Dispatches that Peter Francis (alias Pete Black), a police officer from the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS), had infiltrated Youth Against Racism in Europe in order to undermine the far left and smear the family of Stephen Lawrence (the victim of a racist murder), if he could come up with any “dirt” on them – including involvement in demonstrations (also utterly scandalous that that would be considered “dirt” to be used against them; I recall that a family member was due to speak at the demo outside the BNP HQ but pulled out due to an anti-racist organisation offering instead to arrange a meeting with Nelson Mandela).
Watch the Channel 4 programme at http://www.channel4.com/programmes/dispatches/episode-guide/series-130/episode-2
I have posted the following comment on the Guardian website at http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2013/jun/26/stephen-lawrence-inquiry-david-cameron?commentpage=1
I was a “domestic extremist”, as a member of the Militant Tendency (now the Socialist Party) from 1990-98. I attended the demonstration outside the BNP HQ, jointly organised by Youth Against Racism in Europe (the YRE) and Panther, both set up by Militant, that took place shortly after Stephen Lawrence’s racist murder.
Militant (despite the name which had to be changed due to its use in the media as a by-word for terrorist) was a democratic peaceful organisation – but I wouldn’t deny that we were subversives or “extremists” since we were striving to replace capitalism with socialism (using “entrism” within Labour and later as an open independent party).
Some of us suspected that there were infiltrators in our midst (although I suspected MI5 rather than the police and “Spies, Lies and Whistleblowers” author Annie Machon who went on the run with David Shayler told me MI5 had 50 infiltrators within Militant at its height). Somebody in the Manchester/Lancashire region I was in attended our “aggregates” (open to all our members) and kept writing notes without speaking, and a leading member once commented to me about the fact that he always sold the same number of newspapers each week which seemed suspicious.
I left the Socialist Party in 1998 due to believing that the infiltrators had become too dominant, and its opposition to the setting up of the Scottish Socialist Party (or putting down too many conditions which would have meant being halfhearted about the SSP).
I am now involved with Left Unity, an initiative of film director Ken Loach that has attracted the interest of over 8,000 people (more than the rest of the far left put together). It could become the UKIP of the left or the equivalent in the UK of Syriza (which nearly won elections in Greece).
A full inquiry should investigate whether “domestic extremists”, including Left Unity supporters, are still being targeted by the police – and MI5 if possible. I’m not so naive to think that our communications are not being monitored by GCHQ and PRISM, and believe that however much talk is about terrorists and organised crime, preserving capitalism is the main aim of such surveillance.