Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
  2. The Staggers
19 October 2018

The latest revelations show that Spycops isn’t just one scandal, but two

There are two reckonings that must be had for what went on. 

By Stephen Bush

We mostly talk about the Spycops scandal – the revelation that undercover police officers, while infiltrating political groups, stole the names of dead children, and impregnated the women they were spying on before vanishing into the ether – as one scandal: one relating to the treatment of the women involved, the lies they were told both by the police officers in question and by the state, in which they were robbed of their ability to give informed consent.

And that is, of course, a big part of the Spycops scandal. But now, thanks to fantastic investigative work by the Guardian we know that Spycops is not one scandal, but two: the second relating to overall police and government priorities. Why? Because we now know that the far left was hugely over-represented in the political groups chosen for infiltration. Over a 37 year period, 121 groups across the anti-war, environmentalist, anarchist and Trotskyist left were infiltrated by the police: but just three far-right groups (Combat 18, the British National Party, and the United British Alliance) were infiltrated.

That matters, albeit for different reasons than the treatment of the women involved. We know, too, that Prevent has been sluggish – although there has been an improvement in recent years – to recognise and monitor far right radicalisation. Part of the reckoning for the Spycops scandal has to be about how the state treated the women involved. But another part has to be about a state that is far more keen to investigate and fear the far left than the far right.

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

Content from our partners
Building the business case for growth
“On supporting farmers, McDonald’s sets a high standard”
City of London Corporation brings stakeholders together to drive climate action
Topics in this article :