A state of change

A COUPLE of years ago the City of Brighton and Hove was forced to fork out £500,000 to pay for the policing of a march of fascists — mainly members of the Islamophobic English Defence League — called the March for England. Hundreds of police, many brought in from neighbouring forces, filled the streets along with 10-foot temporary barrier walls to protect a handful of racists from thousands of angry local anti-fascists. It was not the first time the people of Brighton had been forced to pay this.

Even then there were clashes between fascists and anti-fascists in the side lanes, some arrests but no serious injuries.

The Yorkshire town of Rotherham had to meet a similar bill, several times over — as did other towns and cities throughout the country. The fascists even boasted that they would bankrupt the local authority by threatening to come back to Rotherham over and over again. Since then the Tory austerity cuts have significantly hit policing budgets.

Last week in Liverpool a group of hardline neo-Nazis planned to march through the town in spite of strong opposition from local people. This time the policing level was comparatively modest.

The police were unable to control the huge numbers of anti-fascist protesters and the fascists were unable to even leave the railway station because the police could not guarantee their safety. There were some scuffles inside the station, some arrests but no serious injuries.

Late last year London’s Metropolitan Police declared they would no longer police London political marches unless there was a probability of unrest. They would leave the organisers of demonstrations to pay for private stewarding for basic traffic control.

There was outrage as this would make most political demonstrations unaffordable. But some protests went ahead anyway, with or without police or traffic control. The Met was forced to step in. But in much lower numbers than before.

Public events now are policed much more lightly than before except where the organisers (like premier league football clubs) can afford a small army of private stewards.

This is how security companies like G4S are starting to take over traditional policing roles with a service geared to those who can afford it — while the workers are left to fight among themselves. Law and order is becoming a commodity. And it’s not just the police. Park keepers, train guards and other traditional protectors of public safety have been cut.

The British Transport Police has just reported a huge surge in sexual assaults on the railways. Rail unions say this is because of the cuts in number of train guards and station staff. Mick Cash, general secretary of the transport union RMT said: “These horrific statistics, showing that sexual assaults on our railways rose by nearly 25 per cent over the year, expose the shocking complacency of the private train companies who are still pressing ahead with plans to de-staff our stations and remove the safety-critical guards from our trains in line with Government instructions.

“We note that there has also been a major increase in crimes of violence against the person, including racially-aggravated assaults, which is all consistent with our railways becoming a haven for thugs and racists as staff cuts are bulldozed through.

“RMT has pledged to step up the fight to retain guards on services currently under attack, including Northern and First Great Western, and the union will be reinforcing the message that our campaigns have public and staff safety right at their very core.”

The nature of the British state is changing. The ruling class is giving top priority to protecting itself and its interests while withdrawing funding for protection for the general population, who are being left to fend for themselves. Criminals will be encouraged and those who can will be more likely to take the law into their own hands to protect themselves.

It also suggests that strong working class organisation is more necessary than ever to protect working class communities.

The founders of Marxism-Leninism said the organs of the working class state of the future would begin to emerge from within dying and chaotic capitalism as did the Soviet workers’ committees in Russia in the early 1900s.The unions, the anti-fascists and the peace and anti-austerity campaigners all together could create the structures that will one day chase the ruling class parasites out of our country as the anti-fascists drive the fascists out of Liverpool last Saturday