The December 2013-January 2014 issue of the Freelance
, the newsletter of the NUJ's London Freelance Branch, contains a small article entitled Are you on a 'domestic extremist' database?
One person who was and is found himself targeted by the Metropolitan Police because he was "observed cycling along VICTORIA DOCK YARD..." And? He was wearing a high visibility vest - always suspicious for a cyclist; carrying a black and red rucksack — two of the colours that make up the Nazi flag; and carrying a press card.
This was in 2007 during or near a demonstration in London's Docklands. That clinches it, a journalist at a demonstration spells trouble.
This sort of nonsense is not new, nor is it unique either to the government or to the UK. There used to be an organisation called The Economic League, which was formed shortly after the First World War. It maintained a blacklist of "left wing" workers in certain industries. After being exposed in the mainstream media it was wound up, although there are those who claim it still exists
under another name.
It is well known that during the Hoover era, the FBI kept masses of information on all manner of people identified as subversive, left wing, right wing, etc. Likewise there are other agencies in and out of government that monitor or profess to monitor extremism. They need not be named here, but their labelling anyone organisation they don't like as "hate groups" says more about them than it does about their targets.
In recent years there have been attempts in the UK to challenge the legality of these sort of databases, including this successful one
by a man named John Catt, who at the age of 88 could just be considered a mite too old to be hiding under anyone's bed, much less throwing Molotov cocktails at our wonderful boys in blue.
Another consideration which is apparently never considered is that for all the information gathered on all of us — legally and not so — the authorities have done little or nothing to stop terrorism, which is really the only kind of extremism any self-styled democratic government should ever have a mandate to oppose.