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Undercover cops prefer to stay undercover

Anti-Fascist Action coppers in action

Politics can make you paranoid.

While involvement in so-called ‘fringe’ radical politics most certainly will, particularly if you have been following the public inquiry into the undercover policing of perfectly legitimate (and legal) organisations in the UK since the late sixties.

Apparently, over one thousand groups were monitored from 1968 onwards, though secret state involvement in UK political groups and parties is nothing new, until the secret police outfit behind the infiltration was disbanded. However, only 120 have been named, almost all of them ad hoc left-wing and environmentalist groups around a specific issue or cause. A number of far-left parties were also infiltrated, including the trotskyite communist SWP and Militant/SPEW, as well as numerous communist splinter groups.

The aim of the undercover cops was to gather information and inform their superiors of any potential threat to public order. However, it seems many of them went further than that by forming sexual relationships with activists, which was against the rules, or ending up in leadership roles and effectively keeping the group alive. Accusations have also been made that some undercover cops engaged in criminal behaviour as well. And local police also recruited informers, which is beyond the remit of this inquiry.

One interesting facet of this secret police deployment was their involvement in various fake left ‘anti-fascist’ groups. Many of these groups actively called for violence against political opponents on the so-called ‘far-right’, which included right-wing Conservative party activists as well as those involved in the skinhead music scene. The violence was also directed at legal political parties such as the British National Party, which itself was infiltrated by undercover cops, one of whom found himself in the BNP bookshop at Welling during a far-left riot against both the police and bookshop.

Although a number of individuals in the ‘anti-fascist’ movement have been identified as police spies, including the notorious Mark Kennedy, many more state informers remain unidentified, hence the nervousness of the judge, Sir John Mitting, running the inquiry, to reveal the full extent of the state’s involvement.

Perhaps people will then start asking questions about who really runs the fake left ‘anti-fascist’ movement and that would never do.

Mark Kennedy pictured during a protest against the BNP