Tag Archives: environmentalists

We’re Paying For Big Brother

In an extraordinary turn of events, the Metropolitan Police have not just decided to troll the internet for criticism of them in advance of this week’s Climate Camp protest in London – the first since the ill-fated G20 protest in April. Or rather they’ve outsourced it – that’s right Big Brother is watching you, and you’re paying him to do it:

Police worried about the force’s reputation are scouring Facebook and Twitter for criticism and rumours, ahead of the imminent Climate Camp protest.

The force has hired 6 Consulting*, a firm of “social media monitoring and engagement specialists” for a one-month pilot to monitor the web for relevant chatter.

It follows a series of reports criticising the Met’s policing of major events, including the G20 protest earlier this summer.

A spokesman said that the deal was not part of any investigative or intelligence-gathering programme. “We are increasingly looking to the internet to get our message out,” he said.

He said the G20 protests had seen “unhelpful” rumours spread fast online, and the pilot would help Met communications staff be more proactive in addressing public concerns. It would not however react to specific messages on Twitter, however, where a special Climate Camp account has been set up to release police messages.

(via Marc Vallee)

The Met can address public concerns by guaranteeing they won’t be violently attacking innocent protesters again. They say “unhelpful rumours” at the G20 protest – unhelpful in revealing their media-blocking, peaceful protester-bashing behaviour perhaps. Maybe they should consider that there would be no need to spend thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money in the name of spin if they actually policed in the name of protecting human rights rather than wilfully trampling on them. We will shortly find out if their pre-Climate Camp charm offensive is all mouth, or if the lessons of G20 have actually been learned.

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Police Are Creatures of Energy Firms

Evidence that the police are actively being used for political purposes against dissent is continuing to emerge:

Government officials handed confidential police intelligence about environmental activists to the energy giant E.ON before a planned peaceful demonstration, according to private emails seen by the Guardian.

Correspondence between civil servants and security officials at the company reveals how intelligence was shared about the peaceful direct action group Climate Camp in the run-up to the demonstration at Kingsnorth, the proposed site of a new coal-fired power station in north Kent.

Intelligence passed to the energy firm by officials from the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) included detailed information about the movements of protesters and their meetings. E.ON was also given a secret strategy document written by environmental campaigners and information from the Police National Information and Coordination Centre (PNICC), which gathers national and international intelligence for emergency planning.

At first officials at BERR refused to release the emails, despite a request under the Freedom of Information Act from the Liberal Democrats. The decision was reversed on appeal and although large sections have been blacked out, they show:

• BERR officials passed a strategy document belonging to the “environmental protest community” to E.ON, saying: “If you haven’t seen this then you will be interested in its contents.”

• Government officials forwarded a Metropolitan police intelligence document to E.ON, detailing the movements and whereabouts of climate protesters in the run-up to demonstration.

• E.ON passed its planning strategy for the protest to the department’s civil servants, adding: “Contact numbers will follow.”

• BERR and E.ON tried to share information about their media strategies before the protest, and civil servants asked the energy company for press contacts for EDF, BP and Kent police.

Last night the disclosures were criticised by environmentalists, MPs and civil liberty groups, adding to the growing controversy over the policing of protests.

We’ve already seen the effects of the government’s secret dealings with corporate energy at Kingsnorth, Bishopsgate and Ratcliffe-on-Soar. If anyone thinks that the latter two are coincidences after Kingsnorth think again – it’s increasingly clear that the police have been turned into a tool to support partisan corporate interests, significantly against climate/environment protest. George Monbiot reminds us:

Their treatment of the climate camp protesters at Kingsnorth last year was wildly disproportionate and repressive. They also appear to have misled the press on the power company’s behalf. The police claimed that if the protesters reached the power station, “there would have been a possible loss of power to over 300,000 homes”.

In fact E.ON had already shut down the power station, with no consequences for local people: hardly surprising in view of the fact that its electricity is sold on to the grid rather than supplied locally.

Now we learn that the police, the Department for Business and E.ON have been working together to thwart a peaceful protest, and sharing information obtained by bugging or informants. This is partisan policing: siding with one social sector against another. (I’ll examine the implications in my column tomorrow). Worse, both the police and the government appear to be taking their instructions from a multinational company.

Just who is running this country? And at what point do we decide that corporate power is making a mockery of democracy?

The almost identical lies presented as truth after the mass arrests at Ratcliffe-on-Soar are what we can expect in the future, particularly when now supine news organisations like the BBC repeat them as fact. The right to protest is being subverted by corporate interests, with the collusion of the government and the enforcement by the police.

Butchery

The Japanese government says it kills whales for scientific purposes only, and should be allowed to do so. This (along with other pictures) puts paid to that lie, I think. And the interesting part is, as this article states, that the photos weren’t taken by Greenpeace or other environmental activists, rather the Australian government itself. After so many years in the political wilderness, Australia really is now leading the way and are putting their money where their mouth is on the environment, as Kevin Rudd promised when taking power. If he really is prepared to piss Japan off more than this spat, he’ll be an example for all his contemporaries. I live in hope.