Workers' Liberty #54


Prosecute Paul Condon!

Only the naive or the foolish will look to the police to protect black people from racism. Black people need protection from the police. The Stephen Lawrence case proves that the police can not even be relied upon to investigate the foul murder of a young man of 18, who had his life savagely cut short by the knives of racist thugs at a London bustop.

The lessons of the Stephen Lawrence campaign

Stephen Lawrence is dead. His murderers, who are known, are free to strut before the TV cameras. They will never have to face a proper trial for the killing. Why? Because racist police officers made themselves accessories after the fact of Stephen Lawrence's murder. The police who helped the killers will face prosecution for it? No, they retire on police pensions!

The most hysterical or reckless of anti-state propagandists could not concoct a more terrible scenario to dramatise the realities of this system than what the police have done in the Stephen Lawrence case. Put no trust in the police! That is the first lesson of the Stephen Lawrence affair.

But consider for a moment the Stephen Lawrence case from the point of view of the legalities which the police are supposed to uphold. The Race Relations Act is 32 years old. It was brought in by a Labour Government alarmed at the growth of racism and at the way certain Tory politicians were using racism.

In the 1964 general election, Peter Griffiths defeated Patrick Gordon Walker, a front bench Labour politician, and won a Midlands seat for the Tory Party after conducting an uninhibitedly racist campaign. "If you want a nigger for a neighbour, vote Labour," was one of the slogans of this official Tory candidate. Fascists were feeding off racism, and fascism, though still a marginal force, was growing.

As part of the slow turn of the British establishment from the Commonwealth to the EC, the idea was being pushed, and none too subtly, by the establishment that black immigration was undesirable. A distinction was drawn between the white - Australians etc - "old" Commonwealth and the "new" black, Commonwealth. There was then virtually full-employment. Never mind that without black workers, the NHS and the railways would be in a very bad way.

Previous large scale immigration - Irish immigration in the mid-19th century, for example - had led to intra working-class conflicts because the newcomers, who were used to a much lower standard of living, undercut the wages and conditions of British workers. In the '50s and '60s nothing like that happened. The trade unions were strong. Black workers integrated into the unions; many had been staunch trade unionists in the West Indies. On the whole - though there were some shameful racist strikes - the labour movement acted as a force for assimilation. There was nonetheless a great deal of working-class anti-black prejudice.

In '68, and again in '72, dockers struck and marched in protest against the entry of Asians with British passports expelled from Kenya and Uganda. (A Labour government in '68 banned the Kenyans despite their British passports; in '72, the Tories let the Uganda Asians in.)

The 1967 Race Relations Act was supposed to regulate racial tension and conflicts and to outlaw overt racial discrimination. We were told by the liberals who led the Labour Party that we could and should trust to the law.

The Race Relations Act has played some positive role in education, occasionally triggering the prosecution of obstreperous racists. It has not, it seems, helped re-educate the police.

Thirty two years on the statute books - and after a third of a century what does the Stephen Lawrence case reveal? Active, rancid, all-pervasive, murderous racism in the police forces to which it falls - and for 32 years has fallen - to work the Race Relations Act!

In the last decade large number of cases have been uncovered in which the police have been shown to have framed up innocent citizens and sent them to jail - the Birmingham Six, Guildford Four and others. These cases show that the police and the courts are riddled with fraudulence and corruption. Routinely, in big things and small, the police lie in court. Judges and magistrates know this: they could not but know. They have experience and, it can be assumed, they possess average intelligence and average powers of observation. They know. Yet they have let it go on. It still goes on.

The idea that the responsible police authorities and senior police officers have not known that the police force is a cesspool of racial prejudice and racist practices - that idea is preposterous! Of course they knew! Many are themselves outright racists. Those who were not, know perfectly well how things stood. They did nothing, or very little, about it.

The police authorities charged with implementing the Race Relations Act, with prosecuting racist attackers, with taking action against day-to-day racial discrimination, are now revealed to be a gang of state-licensed racists, some of them capable of covering for racist murder. Bribery and corruption may have come into it; prejudice was nonetheless central.

Why has it taken so long for the Commission for Racial Equality to be given the power to investigate and prosecute the police? This proposal is now made in the Macpherson Report.

Sir Paul Condon is reputed to be a force for reform of the police and may personally be free from prejudice. Yet Condon has presided over this racist police force. Of course, he should resign! He symbolises this whole tainted and in large parts, putrid system. But is resignation enough? Condon has in fact colluded in a vast conspiracy by those whose job it is to uphold the 1967 Race Relations Act to perpetuate the racism it was supposed to outlaw.

The police who covered for the murderers of Stephen Lawrence should be prosecuted as accessories after the fact of murder. Paul Condon and other senior police officers should be prosecuted under the Race Relations Act.

We have no confidence in that Act. It is however the law. The neo-liberals of New Labour tells us to rely on the law. Let them show us the 1967 law in action.

Prosecute Paul Condon and his senior responsible colleagues! Force Home Secretary Jack Straw to resign!

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