The decision by the current Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley not to ban the pro-Palestine demonstration in London on November 11th – Armistice Day – caused consternation in 10 Downing Street, with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak promising to hold Rowley to account if it turned nasty – which it inevitably did.
The spat also brought home to the general public – if they are still interested in such matters – the fact that neither the Prime Minister nor the Home Secretary have the powers required to protect the city.
Such decisions are taken by public servants, in this case Rowley.
If the decision to allow the Pro-Palestine demonstration to go ahead against the wishes of the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary, and also, clearly, against public opinion, seemed strange, then Rowley’s decision to initially declare Whitehall off limits to the general public on the day, only to then announce that a “far-right” counter demonstration – alongside the Cenotaph itself – could take place, appeared somewhat odd to say the very least.
Or does it?
The Metropolitan Police has transformed itself, since the Blair years, from a highly respected police force into a left-wing pressure group.
Whilst seemingly ignoring street crime and burglary – knife crime in the city is now at epidemic levels and burglaries are rarely, if ever, investigated – woke officers ruthlessly police social media for any hint of questioning over the realities of transgender issues, for example, thus earning themselves widespread contempt and condemnation in the process.
Given that the Trotskyist Socialist Workers’ Party (SWP), always a strong supporter of the Palestinian cause, or indeed any cause that undermines western democratic values, appears, judging by the number of placards visible at any pro-Palestinian demo, to have “sponsored” events on the 11th, one might be forgiven for suspecting that, if not Rowley, then other officers at senior level may well have strong sympathies with the group.
Certainly the Home Secretary has suggested bias on the part of the Met towards not only pro-Palestinians, but other fashionable left-wing causes.
Writing in The Times on October 8th she said “I do not believe that these marches are merely a cry for help for Gaza. They are an assertion of primacy by certain groups — particularly Islamists — of the kind we are more used to seeing in Northern Ireland. Also disturbingly reminiscent of Ulster are the reports that some of Saturday’s march group organisers have links to terrorist groups, including Hamas.
“There will be time for proper discussion about how we got to this point. For now, the issue is how do we as a society police groups that insist their agenda trumps any notion of the broader public good – as defined by the public, not by activists.
“The answer must be: even-handedly: Unfortunately, there is a perception that senior police officers play favourites when it comes to protesters. During Covid, why was it that lockdown objectors were given no quarter by public order police yet Black Lives Matters demonstrators were enabled, allowed to break rules and even greeted with officers taking the knee?”
“Right-wing and nationalist protesters who engage in aggression are rightly met with a stern response yet pro-Palestinian mobs displaying almost identical behaviour are largely ignored, even when clearly breaking the law? I have spoken to serving and former police officers who have noted this double standard.”
If we accept the Home Secretary’s analysis of the situation as fact, and it is certainly the case that Hamas regalia was in evidence during the demo on the 11th, despite being banned in the UK – Hamas is a proscribed terrorist organisation and such displays are a criminal offence – then it is not beyond the realm of imagination to suggest that the physical confrontation between the “far-right” and the police was, in fact, set up deliberately by the Met in order to discredit all opponents of the Palestinian cause by labelling them as facists and football hooligans.
Certainly the Prime Minister, despite the apparent limits to his powers, appears somewhat displeased with Rowley’s performance on the 11th.
Following the disturbances he issued the following statement: “I condemn the violent, wholly unacceptable scenes we have seen today from the EDL and associated groups and Hamas sympathisers attending the National March for Palestine. The despicable actions of a minority of people undermine those who have chosen to express their views peacefully.
“Remembrance weekend is a time for us to come together as a nation and remember those who fought and died for our freedoms. What we have seen today does not defend the honour of our Armed Forces, but utterly disrespects them.
“That is true for EDL thugs attacking police officers and trespassing on the Cenotaph, and it is true for those singing antisemitic chants and brandishing pro-Hamas signs and clothing on today’s protest. The fear and intimidation the Jewish Community have experienced over the weekend is deplorable. “
“All criminality must be met with the full and swift force of the law. That is what I told the Met Police Commissioner on Wednesday, that is what they are accountable for and that is what I expect.
“I will be meeting the Met Police Commissioner in the coming days.”
The behaviour, indeed the very presence, of Tommy Robinson, a far-right activist and founder of the English Defence League (EDL), named by Rowley as major instigators of Saturday’s violence, also bears scrutiny.
Having allegedly started a confrontation between counter-demonstrators and the police, he slipped away in a taxi before the service at the Cenotaph. Job done?
In 2020, before Robinson conducted a media tour of Russia, three of his associates reportedly told The New York Times that part of his agenda was kept secret — to seek accounts with Russian banks.
“Why else would you visit Russia?” said Andrew Edge, a former senior figure in the English Defence League and another far-right group, Britain First, who said that he discussed moving money to Russian banks with Mr. Robinson and Britain First’s leader, Paul Golding.
“In many ways, Mr. Robinson is now useful to the Kremlin — which has often encouraged fringe political figures who might destabilise Western democracies — for the same reasons he was welcome in Mr. Trump’s Washington,” the NYT reported.
It is a fact that Russia has provided significant funding to Europe’s far-right, and in some cases openly Nazi, political groups, and has long sought to interfere in more mainstream UK politics, particularly recently during the Brexit campaign.
Mr. Robinson’s Russian links have been widely speculated upon in the media for some time. Was he working for Russia on November 11th?
In recent months he has taken to Tik Tok to disseminate Russian propaganda, including a claim that Ukraine’s President Zelensky has “shut down all the Christian churches.”
Zelensky is of course Jewish, and Robinson has been widely labelled in the past as an anti-Semite.
The UK Government’s independent antisemitism adviser Lord Mann told Jewish News: “There should be no place for Robinson or any of his friends at any Jewish community event. He should be excluded at all times.”
But why such support for the Palestinian cause from the SWP?
The sheer number of professionally produced banners and placards bearing the SWP’s name distributed at demonstrations across the country suggest a well funded and highly professional organisation.
Russian influence? Highly likely, but not channelled directly.
However the SWP’s fellow travellers and useful idiots carrying the banners would likely neither know nor care where the funding comes from. Jew baiting and a good punch-up with the police is what it is all about.