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article imageOp-Ed: Press TV duped by race agitators again

By Alexander Baron     Sep 11, 2011 in Politics
The Iranian television channel Press TV has been duped again, this time by race agitators posing as political analysts and civil libertarians.
The programme, which is available on YouTube, begins by posing a question: what do Baha Mousa, Ian Tomlinson, Smiley Culture and Mark Duggan have in common? The answer is they have all died as a result of tactics used by the British police or in the case of Baha Mousa, the military.
The Baha Mousa case is beyond the scope of this article, but for those who want an official view – in both English and Arabic - it can be found here.
The bald statement is then made that excessive and disproportionate use of force was employed by the police during the recent civil unrest; the word “riots” is avoided like the plague throughout the entire 26+ minute programme. It is not clear at this point if this is an allusion merely to the riots or to the earlier protests, but it soon becomes clear the programme has a much wider scope than the events that were ostensibly triggered by the shooting dead of Mark Duggan last month, an incident that is alluded to as the murder of Mark Duggan by the police.
This is irresponsible reporting, and an error – accidental or otherwise – that no British TV channel would have made because of the clear risk of prejudicing any future legal proceedings against the officers concerned.
Having said that, there are genuine concerns about the way the police acted here, and someone should be held to account, although it remains to be seen if any individual(s) will be. The latest update from the IPCC can be found here.
The cases of three people who died in incidents involving taser and pepper spray are also mentioned, and the heavy handed treatment meted out to the earlier and largely peaceful student protesters. This treatment of protesters – not all of whom were students – provoked widespread controversy, and was in stark contrast to the way the police dealt with the later rioters, with whom they went out of their way to avoid confrontation, at times allowing the looting and wanton destruction of property, preferring instead to give them enough rope and then both appeal to the public for information and trawl through CCTV to pick out the guilty parties.
After some further comment, this time about stop and search, the analysts were introduced: black activist Lee Jasper, Trotskyite Chris Bambery, and a third commentator who need not concern us here because he was and is concerned primarily with allegations of torture, etc, by the British Army.
Bambery was introduced as an author and journalist, not as a lifelong member of the far left. It appears that this champion of the workers has never had a proper job; after leaving university he became a full time organiser for the International Marxist Group then joined the Socialist Workers Party, for which he was Glasgow organiser in 1981. In April this year, the time server resigned from the party after a thirty year tenure due to one of those perennial factionalisms that bedevil the far left even more than the far right.
Bambery has appeared on Press TV before; this time he kicked off with a statement that was both inaccurate and dishonest; in the past twenty years, some 1400 people have died in police custody, and the majority have been black. Utter piffle. Let us refute this claim with a left wing or at worst left of centre source. According to the Guardian of December 10, 2010, since 1998, there had been a total of 333 deaths in police custody, which sounds horrendous, but a breakdown of the figures reveals the following:
“The majority were from natural causes, with nearly three-quarters relating to drug or alcohol abuse...Those who died in custody were mostly white (75%), male (90%) and aged between 25 and 44.”
The truly shocking figure here is the age range, between 25 and 44, ie young or youngish men dying because of alcohol and drug abuse.
The use of the term “police custody” in relation to most such deaths is wilfully misleading, because the implication is that these people died because of the way the police treated them or were even murdered by the police, when clearly this is not so. A road accident victim may technically be in police custody. In August last year, Raoul Moat died while in police custody; having murdered one man and shot two other people (including blinding a police officer) he was cornered by police, and after a stand off lasting several hours, he shot himself. He died while the police were transporting him to hospital.
Earlier this year, Smiley Culture committed suicide during a police raid on his home. He was facing a long stretch for importing class A drugs, and evidently couldn’t face it. The police were criticised because he was allowed to move freely into his kitchen while they searched the house. If instead he had been handcuffed, the same people would have been whining about the racist police routinely handcuffing “black people” while searching their homes.
Statistics for April 1997-March 1998 can be found here; again, the overwhelming majority were not black, and 26 appear to have been suicides.
Finally, a year by year breakdown from 1990 has been made by Inquest; while every such death is of course a tragedy, it remains to be seen how many can be blamed on the police, and how many were avoidable.
After some discussion about the use of torture in Iraq, Chris Bambery turns his attention to the police use of stop and search, which of course is part and parcel of this campaign of racism by the police against blacks. Before anyone is taken in by this rhetoric or that of his fellow traveller Sarah Sachs-Eldridge, they should familiarise themselves with the case of Rio Andre, or of the 70+ teenager victims of knife crime in 2008 who are no longer around.
Bambery brings in his class war rhetoric, and rants against Imperialism, which he says led to the British occupying “their” countries. What he doesn’t mention though is since the end of World War Two, Britain has been subjected to wave upon wave of unassimilable immigrants, and that many native born ie white Britons regarded this as a form of colonialism, but were shouted down by cries of racism from the likes of the SWP – or racialism as it was then generally known - by the International Socialists.
Bambery’s concern for civil liberties is touching, when he is talking about people – especially young blacks – being stopped and searched in the street by the police. His concern for the victims of the riots though is noticeable by its absence. Not once does he allude to the people who lost their homes, the three young Asian men who were mown down on a Birmingham street while attempting to defend their community, nor Ashraf Rossli, who was victimised by two separate groups in quick succession. The second attack was caught on film, and shows the young Malaysian being targeted by a multi-racial gang; had he been attacked by an all-white gang under other circumstances, this would have been grist to the mill, and Bambery and his fellow travellers would have been outraged.
Lee Jasper gets his oar in on stop and search. Jasper is one of a small group of non-whites including the polemicist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown and Darcus Howe who have made a comfortable living out of the supposedly so racist white mainstream media by whining about how oppressed they are.
He claims stop and search has resulted in massive tensions between (young) blacks and the police, but although it can be tiresome, is stop and search such a terrible ordeal? Certainly the police have better things to do, but like Bambery, Jasper makes no mention of the reality of knife crime, or of gun crime, much less Operation Trident, and the fact that while young blacks are being stopped and searched by the racist police, they are also being murdered, mostly by other young blacks. Having said that, Jasper shows that in some ways he is more red than black by echoing the class warfare rhetoric of Chris Bambery – one law for the rich; another for the poor.
The programme ends with no real conclusions, certainly nothing positive, but as Bambery has in effect wasted his life peddling the Gospel of Comrade Trotsky, and Lee Jasper is riding high on bashing the police and the establishment, why should it?
When Bambery left the SWP, he joined and/or formed yet another “socialist” organisation, the International Socialist Group Scotland. It would be impertinent to ask where the money came from, but just as Leon Trotsky never had any problems raising capital for his revolutionary activities, neither do his successors.
Though it was courteous of Iranian TV to give him and his chum Lee Jasper the time of day, it remains to be seen what Iran’s rulers think of his support for gay marriage and just how tolerant the Iranian police would be of thugs who rioted in their streets, burned down shops, and attacked innocent foreigners.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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