SACC rejects Snitchers culture

SACC Press Release
8 July 2007

Our new, unelected, Security Minister Alan West has got off to a flying start. Just as you'd expect from a security minister, he has announced that he wants a security state. He says people must learn to "snitch" - his word - on friends, family and neighbours.

We hope people won't follow this advice. Under current anti-terrorism laws, you can be prosecuted on the basis of rumours, suspicions, or having the wrong friends. You can spend a long time in jail waiting for a court to weigh rumours and gossip in the balance. You might even be convicted for the offence of becoming a victim of suspicion. Even if you aren't convicted, you could still be electronically tagged, or placed under partial house arrest, or - if you are a foreign citizen - deported.

In these circumstances, snitching on your neighbours is very anti-social behaviour indeed.

SACC will continue to keep people informed of their right not to snitch and will continue to fight any legislative threat to that right. And we'll continue to remind people of the possible consequences of snitching.

Those consequences go a lot further than landing your friends in jail. A snitchers' culture will destroy community cohesion, destroy trust and destroy political activity. And then how will we stop our government spreading war and terror across the planet? And if we can't do that, how can we expect to live in peace at home?

Alan West says he doesn't like the phrase "war on terror". It's true that it's an ugly label. But the stuff inside the tin is a lot uglier. We don't really care if he wants to call this deadly mix of war and repression a banana. We just want it to change.

The "war on terror" - let's call it that until the re-branding is official - has brought apocalypse to Iraq. One reason why the carnage hasn't yet spread to Iran is that the US and British governments haven't yet stitched together the minimal level of public and inter-governmental acquiescence that they think a war would need.

If we are to prevent this catastrophe we need our freedom and we need it now. We need to build solidarity between the people of Britain and the people of the Middle East. We don't need a fake solidarity with the warmonger in Downing Street.

This is no time to throw away freedom and trust, however compelling the justification. To do it because of a small fire in the porch of Glasgow airport would make us the laughing stock of the world. It would be even sillier than giving Prince Charles a place on Scotland's Guardian group of top defenders against terror - a thing that actually happened last week.

There's a crumb of comfort in Alan West's comments. He says that it will take 10 or 15 years to turn Britain into the police state he wants. It's nice that he credits the British people with some capacity to resist tyranny. Let's hope we can do even better than that and resist tyranny for ever.

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