Tag Archives: police violence

UK repression

UK mounted police beat bystander

The recent furore about China’s introduction of “new” legislation for Hong Kong (albeit agreed in principle by the British for over two decades) dealing with Treason, Sedition, Secession and other national security measures and the anguished squeals from many in the West about the destruction of democracy there, simply reminded Grumpy that the UK has one of, if not the, most repressive state regimes in the world for a supposed democracy.

As Grumpy has noted before, Britain ruled Hong Kong as a colonial power, resulting from acts of war by the UK state to allow lethal narcotics dealing by a private company. From that point, in over a century and a half, no Hong Kong subject ever had the opportunity to vote for his/her leader, who instead was imposed by edict from 6,000 miles away by their overseas masters. It must have surely irritated the Chinese in recovering their own illegally annexed territory to then have the the UK government seek to enforce on Chinese subjects a regime with suffrage (albeit limited), having themselves denied this to the citizens for 150+ years.

As part of the hand back of the territory, Article 23 of Basic Law (the Hong Kong ‘constitution’), placed an obligation on the Hong Kong Legislature to enact laws to sanction and prohibit any act of “treason, secession, sedition, subversion against the Central People‚Äôs Government, or theft of state secrets, to prohibit foreign political organisations or bodies from conducting political activities in the Region, and to prohibit political organisations or bodies of the Region from establishing ties with foreign political organisations or bodies”. When The Hong Kong Legislative Council failed to do so for 17 years the Chinese government stepped in to enforce the agreed laws.

It surely cannot be unreasonable that the Chinese government sought to fill the gap in legal structures following the handback of Hong Kong to protect itself – as every state does – against those citizens who seek to usurp or overthrow legitimate government. Any objections must surely therefore be matters of implementation, and not of principle; but for political reasons the USA and UK have seized on this to undertake a bout of China bashing.

Much has been made of the key elements of “treason, secession, sedition, subversion” and the fact that, amongst other things, some offences carried life sentences. Grave warnings have been given that the City / State would be subject to surveillance, random searching, and property search without warrant. Right leaning conservatives huffed into their copy of the Daily Telegraph either ignorant of, or unconcerned by, the equally repressive structures of British law, subjecting citizens to a controlling and surveillance regime which not even the USA of Donald Trump would even dare to contemplate. A few examples might serve to highlight this.

As an example, ‘Treason’ under the new laws has been made an offence and has a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. <gasp!> But wait, Treason is an offence in UK law and carries the same penalty. Lest it be thought that wartime Lord Haw-Haw was the last person charged, as recently as 2014 Philip Hammond (as Secretary of State for Defence) considered charges of High Treason against UK citizens considered to be islamic extremists. In July 2020, Safiyya Amira Shaikh was sentenced to life for planning a terrorist attack on St Paul’s cathedral; the simple fact is that the British penalties for seeking to attack or overthrow the state are no less severe than those introduced into Hong Kong.

In Part II of this post, Grumpy will highlight how ignorant, disinterested and cosseted politicians allowed repressive legislation to be introduced – some of which was twice struck down for breaching human rights by either the High Court or the European Court of Justice.