More jobs for Alun's boys?
South Wales Police Commissioner advertises more top managers' posts
South Wales Police commissioner and former New Labour MP Alun Michael will be getting some help tending his sinecure, as the South Wales Evening Post reveals today he has advertised for the new positions of Deputy Polices Commissioner and Assistant Police Commissioner, both at starting salaries of £66,000 p/a plus benefits. The position of Financial Officer is also open at £81,505 a year – for part-time work. Mr Michael himself takes home £85,000 a year in his new job.
I suspect this is not what voters thought Labour meant when they talked about “job creation” in their manifesto.
The news comes two days after Tory Home Secretary Theresa May announced plans to slash starting police pay by 18% to £19,000 a year while at the same time preparing to attack police employment rights. Another part of the Home Office's plans make it possible for people from outside the police force to queue-jump directly into senior positions rather than the current system which requires police to work their way up from constable. UK law forbids police from organising themselves in trade unions, although they are represented by the Police Federation a professional body, and overwhelming majorities of police officers support the right to unionise.
The tokenistic quasi-democracy of the police commissioner elections has served a twofold purpose. On the one hand it provides an even easier retirement for already well-heeled and well-networked political grandees; before the post was established, many believed the undertaker-like Alun Michael would only leave Westminster in a box. On the other, the elections provide a democratic veneer for increased use of police against working-class protests. On Michael's first full day in office, South Wales Police violated the sanctity of Wales's 'Speakers' Corner', the Aneurin Bevan statue on Queen Street in Cardiff, in order to intimidate and try to break up a peaceful demonstration in solidarity with people in Palestine suffering from the latest round of Israeli bombing and shelling.
This heightened politicisation of South Wales Police follows on from its recent history of using undercover agents to infiltrate community groups, rounding up Occupy Cardiff protestors at the behest of Cardiff Council, and spending hundreds of thousands of pounds facilitating violent protest by the far-right, fascist English Defence League.
In a developed socialist world there would be no police. Rather than wishing the state away, socialists put forward a radical yet realistic programme for abolishing the underlying cause of the police force; first steps to this include on the one hand fighting for the right of all workers, including rank-and-file police officers, to unionise and to strike as a way to fight against the bosses and for their own rights, and on the other working for real democracy and accountability in all parts of the public sector, including rolling back a century of legislation which has taken the police further and further from control by the local community.
Capitalism, which is rule by a tiny minority, requires that some fraction of the working-class majority be economically conscripted into protecting property by fighting other working-class people. The police can never be apolitical – we can best weaken and split the ruling class's state by reminding working police that people must always come before property.
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