Over 93% of Labour members are opposed to the SpyCops Bill and 91% believe that the legislation will be used against legitimate campaign groups (including the Labour Party and trade unions), according to a survey commissioned by Labour Grassroots.
The SpyCops Bill – if put into law unamended – will legitimise undercover operations and acts of crime. This allows undercover agents to commit murder, torture and rape without any judicial oversight. Agents working for the FBI in the US would receive more scrutiny than their British counterparts under the legislation.
This overwhelming opposition to the bill has not been met by Labour’s frontbench, who whipped MPs to abstain on the bill.
During our eye-opening discussion show on SpyCops (you can see it here), it was suggested that Labour members put forward motions in their CLPs and lobby their MPs and Labour peers in an attempt to amend the legislation.
Below are two different motions put forward by Labour members that were sent to Labour Grassroots.
Cambridge CLP motion
Motion – Parliamentary vote on Covert Human Intelligence Sources bill
This meeting notes:
1. That in parliament the Covert Human Intelligence Sources bill had its second reading on Monday 5th October.
2. That the Labour party used a “single line whip” to request it’s MP’s abstain on the bill.
3. That the Labour party has previously used a “single line whip” to request its MP’s abstain on the Overseas Operation Bill, which effectively makes the prosecution of soldiers who have committed war crimes impossible.
4. Trades union Unite and other campaign groups including the blacklisted workers support group urged the labour party to oppose this bill at its second reading.
This meeting believes:
1. That the Labour party and the MP for Cambridge should have opposed the motion.
2. That both spying, especially in the context of the Spycops scandal, and torture, should be strenuously opposed by the Labour Party.
3. That the strategy of ‘abstention’ is no strategy at all, and reflects a refusal to actually oppose the government on these shocking issues.
This meeting resolves:
1. To request that Daniel Zeichner explain the party position to the Camaraderie email and in person at a CLP GC meeting
2. That the Cambridge CLP opposes the Covert Human Intelligence Sources bill and will campaign against it including messages to members, organizing with trades unions and campaign groups in the Cambridge city.
3. To request that the Labour Party whips reconsider the strategy of telling MPs to abstain on such bills.
4. To request that all Labour MPs, including Daniel Zeichner, oppose this bill at all further stages in parliament.
Enfield North CLP motion
This AMM notes with concern the proposals contained in the Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill (CHIS).
This AMM recognises that the Bill constitutes an extremely grave attack on civil liberties and contains proposals which are of concern to the whole trade union and labour movement.
This AMM further notes the implications of the Bill identified in the points below and contained in a statement issued by the General Secretaries of UNITE, NEU, CWU, RMT, NUJ, UCU, TSSA, PCS and ASLEF which has been endorsed by a range of campaign bodies including the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign and the Justice 4 Grenfell Campaign. If the Bill becomes law:
- It allows state agents to commit crimes to stay undercover.
- There’s no limit to what crimes they can commit, including murder, torture or sexual violence
- They can commit crimes to ‘prevent disorder’ or maintain ‘economic well-being’.
- It threatens trade union activity and justice campaigns.
- There is no provision for innocent victims to get compensation.
- It allows a wide range of agencies like the Food Standards Agency to spy on people and commit crimes.
- It does not protect human rights.
- It lacks prior judicial authorisation to commit a crime.
The AMM notes that there have been cases where Labour Party members and trade union members acting as trade unionists have been the subject of state surveillance. This has included cases involving Party members and trade unionists acting in a range of campaigning bodies including anti-racist campaigns which have been the victims of covert actions. It has also included cases where undercover policemen have entered into and maintained intimate relationships with women activists in order to spy on legitimate campaigns.
The AMM notes the rapidity with which the Bill is being pushed through Parliament.
The AMM therefore expresses its complete opposition to this Bill and agrees to:
- Call on the National Executive of the Party to adopt a position of opposition to this Bill;
- Call on the Parliamentary Labour Party to oppose this Bill at every stage;
- Encourage all Labour Party members to support this stance by writing to their MPs;
- Give support to efforts to oppose this Bill becoming law.
Public Interest Law Centre
Overseas Operation Bill