I've just taken part in a fascinating 15 minute discussion on BBC Radio Ulster about the fact that the new Chief Constable of Northern Ireland, Matt Baggott, is also President of the Christian Police Association. They invited me to participate because of THIS post I wrote about the CPA back in July 2006.
Clearly, if you are Chief Constable of Northern Ireland you are constantly having to tread a religious tightrope, but I see nothing wrong with Mr Baggott being a member of the CPA. Being an openly declared Christian is not a crime in this country. Yet.
Towards the end of the interview I was asked if I thought police officers should refrain from joining any kind of interest group. I said I thought it was fine as long as their membership of a group did not interfere with their ability to the job. I think, however, it is important to be consistent. It is simply wrong for there to be a blanket ban on police officers supporting the BNP, for instance. Are we really saying that a BNP supporter is incapable of doing his job as a police officer? If an officer displays any degree of racial discrimination during the course of carrying out his duties, then I would be the first to say that disciplinary action should be taken, but a blanket ban is wrong, and in itself discriminatory. Should we also fire any police officer who supports any political party, or just those ones we don't happen to approve of?
PS Incidentally, I will be on the Radio 4 Media Show at 1.30pm talking about televised political debates with Ed Stourton and the political editor of the New Statesman Mehdi Hassan.
Matt Baggott, not Mike.
In general you are correct, we are a democracy that has fought for freedom of thought and speech, the point you raise regarding can they do their job is the revealing issue. Would a member of what is currently an anti-immigrant group be able to protect all in the community. If the officer concerned can say yes professionally I can then there is no problem.
The ammont of abuse the police take from the public at large makes me believe that most of the force could take this stance and suceed.
Iain you kind of surprised me with your position I thought the liberal left in you would have gone another way!!
Those who are real professionals have long learnt to separate duty from conviction. The Baggott needs to ensure that there is never the possibility of an accusation that his personal views interfere with, or influence, his professional actions.
Doctors, Lawyers, Barristers and, yes, even Accountants have been able to make such distinctions. I see no reason why policemen should not be able to so the same.
Good God. I agree with you! If you allow the 'black officers assoc' & 'Christian', why or how can you ban a political party membership. If they believe in an English Parliament or don't want to be part of the EU, how do they stand in the force for their beliefs. The do-gooders/Labour want everything banning that they don't like, or agree with. Very close to a communist state I'd say.
I'm glad you defended a copper's right to be a BNP supporter or even a member of the party. If he were forbidden, he would have a good case in court, because the BNP is a legal party. As you say, Iain, if he shows bias in some way, he can be dealt with through the normal channels.
I'd be more worried about the Black Policeforce Association, a racist organisation, which seems to exist to lobby for promotions for members and defend those who get into disciplinary difficulties.
"Are we really saying that a BNP supporter is incapable of doing his job as a police officer?"
Yes, Iain, we should be saying that. Another illustration of how Tories don't 'get' race issues. Next you'll be telling us Carol Thatcher's not a racist...
Mr Dale - I cannot help but think the Tories will be looking for a media savy candidate to fight whichever seat Mandelbum parachutes into.
Do you know one ... ?
Other than Matthew Parris of course.
"Are we really saying that a BNP supporter is incapable of doing his job as a police officer?"
Er, yes. They're racists!
So I was right, you are a racist Dale.
I'm more worried about the officers with watermelon smiles.
Is it true that Nick Griffin is an old Etonian?
Christianity is fundamentally homophobic. The BNP is fundamentally racist. Both are incompatible with being a police officer.
Anyone joining the BNP is signing up to an organisation with a constitutional commitment to racism.
Read the BNP constitution. They essentially define British as having white skin and state that they are "wholly opposed to any form of racial integration between British and non-European peoples", plus the restoration of "the overwhelmingly white makeup of the British population".
So BNP members aren't banned from being police officers simply because the police don't like people who choose to join a party led by a Holocaust-denier and filled with all kinds of unpleasant nutters and criminals.
They are banned because membership of a racist organisation is incompatible with the police's duty to comply with race relations law.
Of course in a liberal democracy it is right that unpatriotic Hitler-loving racists are allowed to gettogether and form a political party.
But that does not mean that we should go out of our way to compromise our race equality laws and basic social values to allow members of that organisation to serve in the police.
Since when was the Christian Church a political party?
PLUS even in NI both sides are Christian, aren't they? It would be different if Mr Baggott were a member of a Protestant Police Association or vice versa.
So you're fine with the BNP but not with the Black Officers Association? Says it all, really.
BBC radio Ulster?
Ulster is a province of Ireland and it is made up of nine counties, six of which comprise Northern Ireland. The other three are in the Republic of Ireland. Why is my licence fee going on broadcasting to another country?
Bird, unlike the BNP, the NBPA does not ban people joining because of the colour of their skin.
It seems that your 'knowledge' of the NBPA is formed from Daily Mail headlines of 'lazy' or 'incompetent' ethnic minority officers being saved from the sack by them. I suggest to halt your slide into ignorance, you may wish to find a bit more about them next time.
How you can label them 'racist' whilst not applying the same moniker to the BNP, a party packed to the rafters with anti-semites, holocaust deniers, and race-hate convicts is remarkable.
Are you a supporter?
And by the way, I think that if you are a member of a party who beleives in 'repatriating' anyone who doesnt have a white face, you should be allowed nowhere near the police force, the teaching profession, nursing and so on.
boring what about DUNCS gaff
Agree with the democracy angle
You can't justify banning the BNP by discriminating against them, you must debate them and hold them up to public ridicule
It is unfortunate that the Labour Party are not interested in either of these courses, and must be held accountable for their inability to grasp their responsibility in this matter
Just listening to you on the Media Show. Have you been drinking?
The man on BNP members becoming police or prison officers is well meant but flawed. As long as you do your job competently and honestly, why does it matter what you do when you get home or how you vote?
Should policemen who are members of extreme left-wing parties also be banned or the grounds that they'd be unlikely to sympathise with wealthy victims of crime?
One thing potentially problematic is that a member of the public who is unhappy about his/her treatment at the hands of said BNP officer and believes them to have been racist etc may use the fact that the officer is a BNP member to support their claim. A jury made of a cross section of the British public may well agree with the plaintiff when this additional piece of information is disclosed.
Of course an officer can always be racist without being a card- carrying member of a particular group - but being open about group affiliation may actually make the officer vulnerable to one allegation after another.
That's a good point Iain and I agree with the principle.
However, does this work with jobs that are security cleared for instance like the MOD?
Can you be a member of the Communist party and work at the MOD for instance? I'm sure I remember seeing that although I can't be sure - perhaps someone could correct me.
For voicing this opinion, which to me is entirely correct, be prepared for more howls of outrage from the "Equality Uber Alles (except for those we don't like)" brigade.
I believe it is acceptable for a serving police officer to be a member of an extremist islamic group without saction although i stand to be corrected.
I have LPs by both the Police and the Christians, but never heard of BNP. I'll try Spotify...
Are you suggesting that one cannot be a Christian AND a member of the British National Party?
Where does that place members of the IRA?
How can a Muslim be a police officer, who is duty bound to protect the Queen -who is head of the Church of England?
Why should Police Officers be excluded from being members of political parties?
Why should they be denied the opportunity to stand for Council/Parliament, whilst a serving police officer? Similarly why should the Armed Services be banned?
(Yet officers of the courts, Solicitors and Barristers, are allowed to stand for Parliament, make the laws which they then make small fortunes from exposing 'loop holes'!)
Why is the religion of this man any concern of anyone? Would the Northern Irish have turned down a Muslim, Sikh or Jew had one applied to be Chief Constable?
I am proud to be a Christian but am seriously concerned that we are almost at a stage, in this Country, when Christian are becoming the oppressed.
O/T just wondering what you think of Alan Duncan's latest comments. Guido thinks he's a "sh*t", what about you?
The law already says the BNP ban is illegal under the dicta of Redfearn V Serco, as any ban has to be applied equally without discrimination to all races and apply to all similar groups such as Nation of Islam, Islamist groups, even the Black Police Officers Association etc but the police are not applying the ban to all racial groups - only whites in the BNP.
The police know this but dont apply the law - and therefore the police are knowingly breaking the law with the duplicity of the ACPO labour para-military thugs.
Am I thinking of a different BNP? I can see the merit in the argument that people shouldn't be barred from jobs because of their personal beliefs, though I'm not sure I agree.
But let's not pretend that the BNP are primarily an English parliament, anti-EU party (I'm not accusing Iain of doing so, but rather some of those who have left comments). They are a racist party. They believe that Non-White people are biologically, mentally and morally inferior.
As for the 'racist' National Black Police Association you'll find the words 'There is no bar to membership based on colour.' displayed very prominently on the front page of their website. Compare that to the BNP's membership policy and see if you spot the difference.
Judging by your incoherent, semi-illiterate apology for the BNP, I would guess you are currently a serving police officer. Am I right?
The BNP ban is politics and PR.
Suppose there is some loony racist copper. Does anyone seriously think that saying 'you can't join the BNP' will make *any* difference to his thought processes and behaviour at *all*.
Like Thomas Rossetti said.
If you're going to bar police officers from being a member of the BNP, on the grounds that it shows that they may allow their personal views influence their performance. Then surely you must apply the same restrictions to other parties.
You'd have to assume that a member of the Labour party, during the Birmingham fracas the other day, would disproportionately favour the UAF against the opposing protestors.
A member of the Green party would be overly zealous toward litterers and people driving 4x4s, but turn a blind eye to environmentalist crimes.
Otherwise, the only conclusion is that the BNP are being targeted. And much as it pains many, and objectionable as the BNP undoubtedly are, it is a legal party so must be treated in the same manner as others.
It's called consistency.
Why would any NON Black want or wish to join the NBPA ?
It is a RACIST organisation that makes no bones about promoting the welfare of BLACK members of the Police service.
The BNP last time I read their manifesto did NOT promote racism. However they DO promote the welfare of what they claim are the native people of the UK.
So why is it all right for the NBPA to do this but not the BNP ?
Why is the CPGB (Communist Party) not banned as well - they have a proven history of discrimination and murder (on class and religious grounds). And there are lots of indications that Communist parties become racist (extreme nationalist) in selecting their officials once they achieve their brutal tyranny.
The BNP is a registered political party. If you wish to ban it - go to Court and get it de-registered. But you won't be able to any more than we can ban the more revolting versions of communism or socialism from forming political parties & corrupting our society !
So go & explain to people why the BNP is so wrong (you will of course HAVE to read their manifesto to be able to do this). Just screaming 'racist organisation' all the time is not only incredibly boring but remarkably infantile for people who claim to be rational adults.
If the leftie bloggers want a ban, will they also support bans on trotskyists and communists who wish to overthrow the state ?
And what happens to those who join in the flush of youth but change over time ? On that basis most of the cabinet shouldn't be there till they've signed a letter confessing to the error their ways.
Intellectually you're right , Iain .
However , the foaming-at-the-mouth comments from leftists here shows not only their irrationality and emotionalism , but also the nature of the BNP/Labour struggle within the left .
The nature of that struggle shows us what they're really like and what they really have in store for the rest of us .
I particularly liked the 'Christians can't be police officers' comment from Loony Left .
Only loyal supporters of "The Movement" must be in positions of authority .
Totalitarian ? Could be .
Quite frankly, we're all getting bored to death of the Race Card, from politicians, coppers, posters, and anyone else with a vested interested in silencing any debate whatsoever.
The word Racist is now so wishy washy, it holds as much power as the playground taunt, Poo Poo Pants.
I believe that Iain is right. Either speak is free in this country, or it is not. The latter is the truth of it, under this fascist government. Is it not a labour government who use terrorist legislation to silence critics [even at their Rallies]? Who should we be more afraid of - Labour or the BNP? Obviously, Labour, because they are in power and they are abusing it.
I say coppers should be allowed to join any legal political party, or no politial party. They [our British rulers] should not get it both ways!!
Interesting to see so many Tories on this post adopting the policy of the Cameron-sponsored UAF ('ban them, ban them'.
You're quite happy for Sinn Fein/IRA to select our police chief constables though! Then again, the IRA didn't discriminate when they murdered British citizens so they're acceptable to the political establshment unlike the waycist BNP
This dialogue could only come about because we now have the legacy of ten years of quite vile social engineering, the likes of which really have not been seen since the Third Reich. I notice this particularly among those who are deeply intolerant of BNP sympathies.
The case of Northern Ireland though, to be fair, must always be seen as an aberration, socially. Those in the Province are distinguished by their predilection for violence and cultural and social fascism, so the Christian issue does not really have the same impact as it would have if this had been the mainland we were talking about.
In a land where violence and intolerance is endemic, the particular tag that its adherents use any any given time is secondary to their deep rooted barbaric nature. This fact is borne out by the number of violent crimes reported that have been carried out by "former" para militaries.
Christianity will be safer under the Tories, but our public infrastructure has had ten years of Labour appointees, and their influence will linger for some time. Christians have always been a soft target because we no longer advocate stoning people to death, nor do we blow up buses. Hey ho, bullies always go for those they think are the weakest.
The issue re: the PSNI was the problem of policing a diverse society, IMHO if the police do not themselves represent that diversity there are problems with policing, - and hence there was this idea of 50:50 recruitment to bring in more Roman Catholics.
I therefore don't see it being axiomatic that members of the BNP are totally to be excluded as police officers but wouldn't care to see a police force significantly influenced by them, as I can't see that would help policing diverse communities.
The answer might be (a) transparency, that is membership of political parties having to be declared and (b) equality - preventing a buildup of a police force dominated too much by one or more similar political or religious creeds.
I second the thought of a media savvi opopnent to Mr. Mandelson, of course to find someone might be difficult, everyone seems to afraid of him...or.
The argument misses the point. It is not simply a question of the right of an indivisual neo-nazi to join, but of each member of the public to be policed by men and women who are seen to be committed to impartiality. Allowing BNP members to join is wholly corrosive of the public confidence that the police absolutely require to do their job.
The idealogical objections to a policeman joining the BNP are all very well, but there are serious operational reasons why the ban should remain.
There was a female Special Constable who lived near us who married into a family of ill repute, and was subsequently told that she could not continue in her role.
The link between the BNP and criminality is, alas, not a theoretical one, but a very real problem for the police in many areas. To be a member of both camps comes under the heading "conflict of interest".
The NBPA exists to promote and support black police. That's why its called it the NBPA. If they purport to support all police as their website infers, why mention the word black at all?
Why not a NWPA (National White Police Association)? There would be an outrage at that, probably with the NBPA calling the NWPA racists!
The existence of the NBPA, by its very title, infers a division between peoples, just what we ought not to do.
The whole racist thing is getting out of hand.
Unless Liebour have recently changed the rules (any anything is possible with them)....ALL coppers are banned from joining ANY political party, always have been.Its written into Police Regulations...which is something that the media seem not to have heard of( not suprising)
It is rather academic Iain, IMO, NO Police Officer should be a member of ANY political party.
I had to wait until I retired to do just that...
Absolutely agree that police be allowed to be members of BNP.
I think there is a serious difference between the BNP and the Christian Police Association Association and Black Police Association. The BNP are actively promoting racial discrimination, whereas the other two are groups of people who support interests, races or beliefs, but they do not advocate getting rid of another race, interest or belieg.
Let me ask you Iain; should a member of a party advocating de- criminalising paedophilia (like the German Green Party in the 80s) be allowed to run a children’s home?
Why is my licence fee going on broadcasting to another country?
Because over here we believe in missionary work.
Now, just take the tablets and calm down dear.
Looks like your mate Diddy Man Duncan has put his foot in it again.
Hmmm I'm beginning to see what Helmer meant.
Also o/t Iain, but if you are appearing on Newsnight to talk about Alan Duncan’s stupendously indiscreet waffle, please please point out the irony of Peter Mandelson suggesting Alan Duncan says one thing in private and another in public. A more venal duplicitous character in British politics over the last 20 years would be hard to find.
Did you tell him he was institutionally incompetent? After all you did label all the other coppers in the country so. If not, why not. Such a vital thing to say.
Interesting argument, but I do think that being a member of the BNP is, in itself, incompatible with discharging the duties of a police officer effectively, whether or not the officer then goes on to practice racism in hiring staff, etc. The truth is that supporting the BNP is itself a racist act: it makes a person guilty of contributing to a climate of racism and prejudice in this country, which is harmful to racial and ethnic minorities. That is true whether or not the person considers him/herself to be a racist. We ought to be upfront about this fact, and more willing to openly condemn supporters of the BNP. Saying that supporting the BNP is a mere 'protest' gives the party, and its supporters, a veneer of legitimacy that they just doesn't deserve. If someone supports the BNP, in any capacity, they are complicit in racism. They have contributed to making life that little bit harder for racial and ethnic groups in Britain, and that is something of which they should be ashamed.
Can a muslim be a police officer then? I mean homophobic and with a pretty dodgy attitude to womens rights as well?
"we now have the legacy of ten years of quite vile social engineering"
What are you talking about? You are clearly a deluded right-wing loon. Here in the real world, we have had 12 years of centrist politics not too dissimilar from the centrist politics we will no doubt be getting from Call Me Dave in about 9 months time.
Care to provide a list of 'acceptable' organisations, then? Or even provide a list of 'unacceptable' organisations if that's too difficult? How do you feel about membership of, say, the British Muslim Council?
Membership of any organisation rarely involves acceptance line by line of its creeds and opinions - except for some religions. Do you, for example, think that membership of the Labour Party should preclude joining the police?
You manage to give a good defence without once mentioning that Duncan displays the typical liblabcon arrogance of believing that they are something special, better than the rest of us. As if!
Nor that he makes clear that they are all there for the money, with no concern at all for public service.
Again, well done! You've still got it.
If someone supports the BNP, in any capacity, they are complicit in racism. They have contributed to making life that little bit harder for racial and ethnic groups in Britain, and that is something of which they should be ashamed.
This isn't meant to be confrontational, as you are quite correct, but live in the real world please.
As someone who employs a lot of very working class people, you are talking from a high-minded viewpoint. They not only don't care if they make things difficult, they are also not ashamed of talking about their support for the BNP. In fact, they are increasingly proud of it.
As someone further up mentioned. The word 'racist' has been so degraded by those on the left who fling it around willy-nilly, that it has lost its shock value. Being called racist once may startle, but, for example, when someone who wishes to cut out unnecessary political correctness after a popular vote is immediately accused of racism, we are entering the realms of overuse of the word.
What should be a word which shames people has been employed more and more as a method of stifling opposing voices to PC.
Once the word is so devalued, it ceases to be something that some are afraid of.
The word has been aimed at Iain right here. Yet can anyone truly say that he is a racist? Of course not.
Those who have overused the word are as much to blame for the resurgence of the NF/BNP as any working class bigot.
I think that in their haste to ban Police officers, service personel etc from being members of the BNP they forgot one very important thing.
Everyone votes in private, and in being able to do so will vote for which ever party they feel represents their views and will do the things they want to see done.
No one has to be public about any of it.......
Well, let's see how this stands up if we change things a little. If there were a Paedophile Party, would we allow its members to become social workers? I suspect not.
Robin B'Stard - there's a difference between voting for a party and being a member of a party.
"Are we really saying that a BNP supporter is incapable of doing his job as a police officer? "
Do you seriously think they could? Seriously?
"JPT said... Can a muslim be a police officer then? I mean homophobic and with a pretty dodgy attitude to womens rights as well?"
Racist assertion there.
Are all muslims homophobic, even the gay ones?
Are all muslims against women's rights, even the womany ones?
I do not see the sense in which I am not living in the real world. I said that being a supporter of the BNP makes one guilty of racism. A proclivity to racism is incompatible with serving as a police officer. If the individual in question does not understand that there is anything wrong with being racist, or revels in the label 'racist', then all the more so (s)he is not fit to be a police officer. Whether or not there are some people who no longer regard racism as something to be ashamed of, we clearly require better of the police, who must serve the community, and enforce the law, impartially. It is not high-minded to insist that these minimal requirements be met.
I think some people confuse "voting for" and "being a member of" a political group, but that's largely irrelevant.
The question has to be that if somebody has a known preference or allegiance, will it affect the way they do their job?
Will, for example, a Police Officer who is a paid-up member of the Labour Party be partisan when dealing with those (s)he knows are paid-up members of any other political group?
Will a white/black/Asian/Muslim Police Officer ignore skin colour when confronted with an affray between different ethnic groups?
The reality is that we all have personal, innate, preferences and personal beliefs which affect our judgement and our actions, even if only for a moment. For the majority of people it won't have any long term impact, but for the Police that "moment of indecision” could result in tragedy or injustice.
"Or even provide a list of 'unacceptable' organisations if that's too difficult? "
It's very simple. A police officer must treat members of the public equally and inspire confidence in the public that he will do so and particularly those sections of the public with which the police has had difficulties in the past. However hard a BNP member may struggle to do the former he certainly cannot do the latter. The same applies to any racist organisation. Your references to the Muslim Council and the Labour Party are very silly indeed.
If the BNP didnt exist then the left would have to invent another convenient target for their intollerence and foam flecked hatred.
Lets say that the BNP were banned, who would the leftist axis attack then?
The sad and pathetic truth is that the leftist axis needs a scapegoat target, both national and international socialism thrives on picking a 'peoples enemy' on which they can pin the blame on.
The truth is that the leftist axis hate the entire political right with the same intensity.
Certain right wing groups may well issue a sigh of relief that they are not the target of the day and may even be keen to point the hatred onto another right wing group in the folorn hope that the axis will somehow forget their inbuilt and hardwired hatred of all things right wing.
In fact there are numerous BNP suporters within the police its just that they keep it quiet and secret, rather like a gay copper would have had to just a few years ago.
BTW there is ample provision within the law to ban any political party that promotes hatred and violence to others, the fact that the BNP remains a perfectly legal party speaks volumes about the true nature of the leftist axis propaganda.
"Lefties think I was nasty to the ridiculous Heydon Prowse"
As does this rightie. You and Duncan are vote-losers.
"A police officer must treat members of the public equally and inspire confidence in the public that he will do so and particularly those sections of the public with which the police has had difficulties in the past."
How does a police officer 'inspire confidence' and how does he identify 'those sections of the public with which the police has had difficulties in the past'? Is there some sort of official - maybe secret - list of these people? Would you include, say, persistent speeders and shoplifters?
And 'a BNP member may struggle to do the former he certainly cannot do the latter'. How do you know this? Any real experience and knowledge? Any examples?
And if my references are 'very silly' maybe you can indicate how and why. Or maybe you really don't have a response and are simply indulging yourself in personal invective - as usual.
Oh, and I haven't seen you around for a while - welcome back.
Obviously, anyone who is not a member of the Abrahamic faiths should be barred from the police, teaching, nursing, being allowed to breathe etc.
Police Officers (and Prison Officers, the Sevices, NHS staff, civil and local Servants, employees of quangos etc. etc.) should not be allowed to belong to any political party
Thanks for the welcome. Are you seriously suggesting that being black is analagous to being a shoplifter? I really don't know where to begin with that one.
Also begs the question Iain as to why we have a Black Police Officers Association. Isn't the Police Ferderation good enough for them. Shouldn't the BPA be taken to court for discriminating on a racial basis?
The issue you raise, is one deserving wider attention, as NuLieBour has used the membership issue as a means to smear anyone not of their ilk.
Shouldn't we be asking, if it is right in this day and age, and given the pay and allowances presently on offer to poor labourite/leftie politicoes, to have Labour MP's sponsored by unions? Particularly when NuLieBour are trying to stop companies from making political donations.
Company's lobby, Unions lobby, both finance parties and individuals, so why the need for NuLieBour to destabilise.?
We will soon, if we do not have a care, will lose the freedom to have our views, mainstream-left or right, extremist-left or right heard or representated.
I was a labour party memeber in 1987, Police officers weren't allowed to be memebers of political parties before 1999, I was a police officer in 2001, In 1987 when labour pproposed the scrapping of stop and search and the end of MI6, special branch and the scrapping of riot police and armed police the police federation said 'well if that your attitude i cant see how we can work with you'.
suppose it had been allowed for police to be members of political parties in 1987 and I Had been a police officer then and the police federation said as they can't work with labour it will be a sackable offence for a police officer to be a member of labour-there would have been an outcry
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