Just because you’re paranoid…

Oh dear, the police are getting bored. They’ve started enforcing arbitrary rules on the myriad leafleters delivering outside of the Labour Conference secure zone, forcing them to stand behind invisible lines that, remarkably didn’t exist yesterday.

Of more concern, I’ve just watched half a dozen police officers spend half an hour filming an anti-vivisectionist handing out flyers. The lad didn’t exactly look very dangerous (his 60-something female colleague on the other hand seemed somewhat unhinged), and the flyers they were handing out were relatively innocuous (questioning the validity of vivisection but not using the usual emotive photos of bleeding monkeys, etc). With animal rights activists taking ever more extreme action, I can understand why the police may have wanted to photograph any activists they come across, but why film him for half an hour? And why does it take 6 PCs to do the job?

When you see this sort of just-plain-weird police activity, it gives you a jolt because it makes you realise quite how arbitrary police powers have become in this country. And of course, those powers were introduced by the very people inside the conference secure zone.

Personally, I’m very suspicious of the need for a secure zone altogether. The whole thing is paid for by the taxpayer, which on one level is fair enough. But of course, Labour can charge higher room booking fees for organisations inside the zone. In short, regardless of the actual security implications, they are making a packet out of creating a ring of steel around their conference, inconveniencing locals and ensuring that a large number of conference goers only get exposed to the lobbying organisations with larger paychecks.

Funny how, even after the Brighton bombing in 1984, it was a decade and a half before such security was deemed neccesary.

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