Monday, 24 January 2011

Sex, spies and arm tubes

The undercover police scandal in the UK seems to get worse every day, with some anonymous former officer now saying he had no choice but to sleep with the environmental activists he spied on - he just did it to fit into the "promiscuous" environmental scene. Talk about blaming the victims.

From a German perspective, the whole affair looks particularly nasty because it's so reminiscent of Stasi methods. When I read about the officer who married one of the activists he had been monitoring, I immediately thought of Vera Wollenberger (now Vera Lengsfeld), a famous pro-democracy campaigner in East Germany who later found out that her husband and father of her children had been spying on her for a decade. It's bizarre to see something like that happen in Britain, and even more bizarre to see it being used against a largely peaceful movement.

On a lighter note, following the story has made me think about the anarchist chapters in The Registrar's Manual for Detecting Forced Marriages, especially the scenes where various activists talk about the best way to disrupt a nuclear transport - using arm tubes, chaining themselves to the tracks, etc. When I was writing the scenes, that kind of activism seemed like a pretty niche subject. Now it's all over the papers!
And even the old arm tubes get a mention:

"In 2008 (former undercover officer Mark Kennedy) was invited to a forest on the French-German border where groups from around Europe would share skills.
'It was almost stereotypical. The Germans made very technical, clean and precise incendiary devices, the French were flamboyant and used Gauloises cigarettes to light the fuse and the Greeks were all for a big bang: they strapped a gas canister to a basic incendiary device.
'When it was my turn I shared details of arm tubes - when protesters clip their arms into steel tubes to create a barrier. I think others were a bit disappointed but British activism didn't have the militancy or violence of other countries.'"

(From a Mail on Sunday interview with Mark Kennedy)

No comments:

Post a Comment