By Pasqueline Agostinho
A Bill allowing undercover officers from committing crimes like murder and rape was passed in the House of Commons on October 15. The ‘Spycops’ Bill which is professionally called the Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill, was passed by 313 votes by 98. An amendment banning agents from committing crimes was voted against. This bill allows the HMRC, MI5 and the Food Standards Agency to allow agents to commit crimes whilst being undercover.
Security Minister James Brokenshire told parliament that the bill “is introduced to keep our country safe and to ensure that our operational agencies and public authorities have access to the tools and intelligence that they need to keep us safe.”
However, past incidents will suggest differently.
We must not forget about when undercover policemen killed Jean Charles de Menezes, a Brazilian man, by shooting him on the head because the policemen mistakenly thought that he was the failed suicide bomber, Hussain Osman, who was on the run, at the heart of the 7/7 bombings back in 2005.
The policemen were not prosecuted and instead the Met was charged £175,000. The family of Menezes came to their last resort which was to hold the state accountable. Their claim was that there was strong evidence suggesting that this incident breached Article 2 of the Human Rights Law. Unfortunately, in 2016, they lost their fight as the judge ruled that this did not breach Article 2, which is the right to life. This is a strong example that juxtaposes Brokenshire’s defence of the bill.
Liberal democracy is the current democratic system. The type of electoral system the UK has is Plurality Representation, also known as “First-Past-the-Post”. This means that if a party/candidate has the most votes, they win the election. However, they do not need 50% or more to win.
Citizens only participate in elections every five years or so, except when there is a snap election. At the times of elections, citizens hear some of the candidates’ policies but ultimately, that candidate (if they win) has the power to change their own policies as well as their policies being denied by a Commons Vote. The problem with this is that policies get decided by a Commons vote and not a “People’s Vote”. Politicians do not represent the people. They are a small, privileged elite who know little about the lives of ordinary citizens. That decision should go to the people as they are directly affected. Democracy isn’t democratic enough.
Additionally, the concept of politicians could also be outdated. Not only is it time for
policies to be decided by a “People’s Vote” but give people a chance to represent their towns/areas. Isn’t it time we give people a voice by allowing them to participate in politics and making the decisions themselves? It works perfectly in the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, also known as Rojava, and Cuba.
Let’s focus on the democratic system of Rojava. The process is through a system called “direct democracy”. Citizens of age voluntary participate in councils from each commune or town and they are elected in the council by the people. The term of a councillor is very short, around a couple of months or so, so that many people get a chance to represent. Democratic Confederalism is a pro-feminist and ecologist ideology which means they have to make sure that at least half of the councillors are women and that environmental issues are one of their top priorities. Councillors have discussions with the people and it is very common for women to order meetings in their communes to discuss issues. Unfortunately, Rojava is constantly under threat by Turkish and Syrian forces due to the ongoing Rojava conflict. Another way the citizens of Rojava protect themselves is through gun training, organising militias with people of any gender, ethnicity, religion and sexuality.
Cuba is another example of a workers’ state. First and foremost, there is evidence of elections in Cuba. A website listing countries with general elections is https://www.electionguide.org/elections. Election guide shows records of general elections in every country, but shows an empty list when it comes to North Korea, but not for Cuba. The website shows that Cuba had a referendum in 2019 approving of the new constitution. It also shows elections they had in 2013 and 2018, approving of the Communist Party with high voter turnouts, 90% and 83% in chronological order voted by the Cuban National Assembly of People’s Power.
Cuban democracy is a bit different to Rojava’s. The minimum voting age in Cuba is 16 years old and someone can be nominated in the National Assembly at the minimum age of 18 years old. They have to campaign for a chance to win to represent their municipality. Candidates must have 50% or more votes to win. It is also illegal to spend money on a campaign.
These are called municipal partial elections and they take place every two in a half years whilst a Cuban general election takes place every five years. Arnold August from Global Research Canada wrote that between 1976 to 2010, there has been a total of 14 municipal partial elections. In 2010, the elections received a 95.9% voter turnout. Since 1976, when the first municipal partial elections ran, the voter turnout has ranged from 95.2% to 95.9%.
There are 612 MPs (or Delegates) voted in the National Assembly. These MPs have regular jobs. 48.9% of the members are women. But it isn’t just these 612 individuals that play a part in Cuban politics but mass organisations like the Cuban Workers’ Central (Cuba’s largest trade union with four million members), as well as feminist organisations, student organisations and other worker organisations also participate. Over a couple of thousand voluntary organisations discuss a wide range of interests – news, science, sports etc. Although participation in decision making is up to the delegates to vote, mass organisations play an important role in the process organising trade union meetings with millions of their members attending.
This is arguably more democratic than the UK and opposite of what mainstream media portrays Cuba as. It is not a brutal dictatorship but rather a permanent “dictatorship of the proletariat”, a workers’ state in the midpoint of capitalism and socialism. The country is ruled by a socialist society and runs like a socialist state but has not achieved full socialism because money still exists and the increasing private sector in Cuba exists. Private sector employment is at 23%. Cuba continues to be under threat by a five-decade sanction imposed by the USA. This is the reason why Cuba has a lack of materials like for housing. But life expectancy remains higher than the USA, with an age of 78.66 years whilst the USA is at 78.54 years, thanks to free healthcare in Cuba.
These are two very good democracies that prove liberal democracy is outdated. If the UK had these democracies, the “SpyCops” Bill would have never passed. Most people wouldn’t have approved of undercover agents harming the public. To a sane person, an undercover agent shouldn’t be above the law just like everyone else.