Big Brother isn’t just watching you, he’s also got a very high-tech rifle pointing at your head

Guest UK,

– By Sophie McAdam

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey at TUC demo, Manchester, October 2015

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey at TUC demo, Manchester, October 2015

In a move that would have been unthinkable ten years ago, police snipers were spotted on the rooftops of Manchester last weekend as thousands of people marched through the streets to protest against the Conservative government.

A week of action was organized by community groups to coincide with David Cameron’s ‘Tory’ party conference which took place in Manchester between 3rd-7th October. This included a large demonstration last Sunday, where an estimated 85,000 British citizens gathered in the city to show their anger at the Tories and everything they stand for. Our sources claim that some agent provocateurs were present to cause trouble and ensure negative coverage of the event. Those entering the conference were called ‘Scum’; many were spat on and several eggs were thrown at politicians and journalists. However, taking into account such a large attendance, the protest was very peaceful on the whole.

For their own personal safety, Conservative party members were warned not to show their conference passes when walking around Manchester (a sign of just how hated are they are). A large proportion of British people are furious that the Tories were swept to power last May for a second term despite the fact that 75% did not vote for them. Protesters are therefore calling for an urgent reform of our undemocratic ‘first past the post’ electoral system, in addition to showing their strong opposition to Tory plans to renew Trident, our nuclear warhead: this is going to cost taxpayers £500 million, at a time when homelessness in Manchester has risen by 150% due to the Conservative party’s inhumane cuts to welfare payments.

Hundreds have committed suicide as a direct result of Cameron’s austerity measures; some have even starved to death after their benefits were stopped. This is absolutely sickening in a highly developed country in 2015, and as a result Sunday’s march saw many holding placards to commemorate the lives and deaths of their loved ones. Activists also want to protect our public postal service, the BBC, and our National Health Service (NHS) from privatization, save the trade unions Cameron has vowed to destroy, and send a clear anti-war message to the government.

It’s understandable that people have had enough of the Tories and want to exercise their democratic right to protest. But wait- what’s that up there? A Twitter user called Ben Whittingham posted this photograph of snipers on the city’s rooftops during Sunday’s march:

Some would argue that these kind of security precautions are necessary in a world filled with the constant threat of terrorism. Others would argue that the only terrorists who need to be kept in check are those wearing expensive suits and charming smiles, those war-mongering terrorists inside the Tory party conference.

While citizens protested against their policies outside, Cameron’s hated government were planning further military action: there is breaking news from the BBC today that troops will be sent to the Baltics to keep a check on ‘Russian aggression’. This hypocrisy is almost laughable. For all his faults, Putin didn’t invade Afhganistan. Putin didn’t invade Iraq, either. Unlike the Western alliance, Putin didn’t wage war on Libya or send his troops to The Philippines, Mali, Yemen, and Somalia. His decision to send Russian forces to Syria is not an act of aggression against the USA and its allies, but rather against the Islamic State- who he claims were created and funded by the USA. If Putin were to send snipers to a peaceful protest, you can bet your bottom dollar that western corporate media would make sure it was headline news. As it stands, there’s a general media blackout of this unprecedented decision. This news, along with Edward Snowden’s most recent revelations on the extent of Britain’s police state, are a clear attack on our civil liberties.

Regional newspaper The Manchester Evening News contacted Greater Manchester Police (GMP) for an explanation of the snipers. Bizarrely, when asked why marksmen were present in the city, officers denied it was related to security. “They are there purely for observation,” a spokesperson said. “They are high up for that reason, to observe. And they [the guns] are used for their powerful sight, which is stronger than any pair of binoculars. They are not there to shoot people.”

What do you think?

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