British State Terrorism

It is now almost a year since the London bombings of July 2005 and, as we predicted, these bombings have provided the pretext for a further assault on civil rights and an escalation of repression. On the one hand, acts of parliament have been used to provide the legal basis for repression while, on the other hand, the forces of repression have been used to create a climate of terror. An example of the legal changes made is the 2005 version of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA)1. This act continues the trend of detention without charge. Suspects can now be held for 28 days without charge while certain “terrorist” suspects can be held in indefinite detention without charge or trial if the Home Secretary sees fit. The act also introduces a new type of “thought crime” called “glorifying terrorism” which is reminiscent of Orwell’s 1984. The most recent example of generating a climate of terror was the police raid on the London suburb of Forest Gate.

Forest Gate raid

The Forest Gate raid saw 250 police seal off an area of the capital at 4.30 in the morning. They even declared an air exclusion zone for civilian aircraft over this part of London! They then smashed their way into a house where two brothers were asleep, and when one of them came to investigate they shot him. The brothers, were carted off, one to prison, one to hospital, and held without charge while the police pulled their house to pieces. The police claim that they thought the house contained “Weapons of Mass Destruction” (WMD) but, as in Iraq, no such weapons were ever found. Since the police did not even bother to evacuate people from the neighbouring houses, who would have been, one might have thought, in grave danger if WMD were let off, it appears that this claim was part of the usual sequence of lies which are used to obscure the true purpose of these events. Similar tactics were used to confuse the situation when police shot and killed an innocent Brazilian electrician, Charles de Menezes, on the Stockwell tube train nearly a year ago.

State Terror

As always, our leaders disguise their terror in a smokescreen of chatter about “human rights” and the “rule of law.” This is complete humbug. The bombings of 7th July 2005 would never have occurred if Britain has not invaded Iraq. This invasion was against the will of the UN and contrary to the existing system of international law. The love of human rights is exposed by simply repeating the list of places where massacres and atrocities have been carried out by the invaders against Iraqi civilians, with Abu Ghraib and Haditha2 at the top of the list. The murders of Iraqi civilians by British forces, though less dramatic than those by the US forces, remain murders nonetheless. The fact that British courts always find soldiers, who supposedly carried out the murders, innocent, while admitting all the while that those in the custody of the soldiers were murdered, does not in any way alter the case. We should remember that the number of Iraqi civilians killed by the coalition forces is somewhere between 40 000 and 100 0003. This is the scale of killing which the guardians of human rights and the rule of law have themselves carried out during their three years of protecting human rights and democracy in Iraq!

However, the real reasons why the capitalist class enters into wars such as those in Afghanistan and Iraq are material reasons, not ideological ones. These reasons are derived from the imperatives of imperialism which in their turn spring from the contradictions of the capitalist system itself4. To get the population to acquiesce to the demands of imperialism, especially when there is opposition amongst the working class, state terror is necessary. The most obvious examples of this were in Fascist Germany and Stalinist Russia, but the so-called bourgeois democracies are no less adept at carrying out campaigns of terror when this becomes necessary.

Labour: guardian of British imperialism

The fact that these policies are being carried out by a Labour government should surprise no one but the most politically naïve. The Labour Party has always been the faithful servant of British imperialism. This was demonstrated definitively in their support for the war effort in World War I. The recent announcement that Labour will renew the Trident nuclear weapons system is completely consistent with this role. It was a Labour government which developed the British bomb. The fact that renewal of Trident violates the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the very thing for which we area threatening to attack Iran, shows again how power and imperialist interests, not legality, are the real issues at work behind all the claptrap. Blair and his henchmen, Reid, Clarke and the rest are nothing more that the chosen management team of the British capitalist class. The fact that they are accomplished liars and hypocrites makes them even more suited for that role.

It is not, however, this or that politician, or this or that political party which is the problem. Like chameleons, political parties and bourgeois politicians change their colours as they metamorphose into whatever the current needs of capitalism demand. Labour metamorphosed into “New Labour” which was essentially a variant of the Thatcherism, that is, a variant of the Tory party. Now the Tory party is metamorphosing into a variant of what “New Labour” has evolved into. All this means is a new ruling team is in the making because the present one has outlived its usefulness. These changes are nothing more than spectacles which are used to try and keep the working class committed to the bourgeois democratic fraud.

What is needed is to change the capitalist system from which spring imperialism, its administrators and their reign of terror.


(1) We discuss this in Revolutionary Perspectives 38. See “Anti-Terror - Smokescreen for State Repression”

(2) Abu Ghraib was the notorious prison where US violations of human rights were videoed and circulated in the US military for entertainment. At Haditha US marines murdered 24 civilians in an orgy of killing which lasted about 5 hours

(3) The Invaders’ love of human rights and hatred of terror does not extend to counting the numbers of civilians they kill so we have no accurate figures for the civilian death total

(4) See “Iraq - Shipwreck of US ambitions.” in this edition

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