It was good to see London acting as a venue and host on the international stage to world leaders at the G20 London Summit, which marked the latest stage in the emergence of a new economic order in which western domination is being challenged by rising powers like China – something l’ve spent time studying since my student days.
But, for most Londoners, the Summit is probably going to be remembered for the way the Met policed the demonstrations and the circumstances surrounding the tragic death of Ian Tomlinson. l myself went on the “Put People First” demonstration on the Saturday before the Summit, and as someone who has been to similar demos over the years l have noticed that the Met’s policing of events has got much heavier, both in terms of numbers and tactics, to the extent that some feel it is threatening people’s cherished right to assemble and protest.
Not surprisingly, l have received a number of communications criticising the methods adopted by the police. The Labour Group on the London Assembly have called for a full and open debate on the legitimacy and appropriateness of the tactics used. The police have a duty to explain and justify their actions and we have called for a full report to be made to the Metropolitan Police Authority, where our representatives (Jennette Arnold, John Biggs and Joanne McCartney) will be able to question the police.
The next MPA meeting is on 30 April, giving them ample time to give an account of their actions, and in the meantime we will see how the police deal with the Tamil protesters in London in the wake of the G20 controversy.
The 8 April statement by the London Assembly Labour Group on the death of Ian Tomlinson can be read here.