Jenny Jones an extremist? Nice work, Met Police

Of course the 64-year-old Green peeresses with the potential to wield bicycle clips is a lethal enemy of the state

Share

With the unwarranted surveillance of the innocent by the menagerie of surreal imbecility formally known as the Metropolitan Police, the usual reflex of liberal folk is to sympathise with the surveyed. In the case of Jenny Jones, the Green peeress and former candidate for the mayoralty of London, all my pity is reserved for her surveyors.

The tale of Baroness Jones’s rise to prominence as a lethal enemy of the state underlines the Met’s auto-satirical genius. Only now, after obtaining the relevant files with a request under data protection legislation, has this Greater London Authority member come to understand the threat to public order she has posed.

Previously, she must have naively imagined herself to be a model of good citizenship. Having forsaken archaeology to enter politics in middle age to campaign for such herbivorous causes as safer cycling, she even managed to dupe Her Majesty. In 2004 she was included in a Buckingham Palace list of 200 women of achievement.

Yet she now discovers that, during 11 years in which she sat on a GLA committee scrutinising the Met, in a thoughtful reciprocal gesture the Met was scrutinising her. It recorded her political activities on the secret database it reserves for the 9,000 “domestic extremists” who regularly attend legal protests, but whom it feels in its bones may in the future commit some trivial public order offence in pursuance of their political ends.

How many officers serve in the domestic extremism unit – a body the comedian Mark Thomas, a database star himself, identified as welding the mindset of the Stasi to the precepts of Ealing Comedy – is unknowable. One day, when any residual dregs of public trust in the Met have evaporated, a government will hire some tough guy from New York or Boston to unearth the full range of its stupidity, profligacy and petty vindictiveness.

Until then we are free to guess that several hundred officers are diverted from less urgent duties to protect us from marauding 64-year-old Green peeresses with the potential to wield bicycle clips and soya-based meat substitutes with evil intent.

Spare a thought for these public servants. None joined the force to do such demeaning work. In the canteen at Hendon cadet college, they did not gather over regulation issue doughnuts to share their dreams of monitoring Jenny Jones’ tweets about anti-welfare cuts public meetings she planned to address.

They were not motivated to don the helmet to keep tabs on John Catt, an elderly Brighton man who, like Jones, has no criminal record, and whose legal case against them she supported. Last year the Court of Appeal judged that the Met had unlawfully recorded not merely his presence at 55 protests, but his dangerous habit of sketching scenes from them. Mr Catt is 89.

Whatever reasons the national domestic extremist unit’s finest had for joining up – the uniform, the sirens, the Spanish practises, the chance to park on double yellow lines outside McDonald’s with impunity, the occasional ruck, even perhaps a desire to serve the community – they cannot have included monitoring the most harmless and obviously well-meaning of their fellow citizens.

The work must be as staggeringly dull as it is pointless, and the sense of worthlessness so overpowering that you could not resent them if they cleaved to the policing tradition of by retreating to their sofas for 12 years on full pay due to stress.

It needs no spelling out that there is a sinister tinge to this. The surveillance of those without a speeding offence to their names is hardly one of those “British values” that Michael Gove would wish to be taught in schools. But while there may be a frisson of excitement to be had from the knowledge that one is being covertly watched for no sound reason, there can be only quiet despair in doing the watching.

Phil Neville – what a recovery

With the exception of “Jonathan Pearce? He’s the most intelligent commentator since Barry Davies,” these are the last words I expected to write about the BBC’s World Cup coverage. But you have to love Philip Neville. After his barbiturate debut of Saturday night, Our Phil bounced back on Monday with sparkling elan, by eschewing the rancorous self-pity of his breed on the studio sofa. “I loved social media,” he said with an adorably rueful grin, “until 24 hours ago…” and with that he was reborn.

Since the pundit’s primary function is to reflect the play, he is a genius. Like England in conceding the opener against Italy, he suffered a seemingly irreversible calamity. And like the team in equalising so quickly, he recovered with startling speed. If his mirroring of that game continues, he’ll revert to form during the Uruguay match tomorrow with more sepulchral droning. Until then, we salute Phil Neville as the Lazarus of punditry.

READ MORE: World Cup 2014: Is Phil Neville the worst pundit in Brazil? A look at the hits and misses  

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Teacher

£22000 - £32000 per annum + TLR: Randstad Education Southampton: Our client is...

Database Administrator

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: The role could involve w...

Science Teacher

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Qualified secondary s...

Deputy Head of Science

£22000 - £36000 per annum + MPR / UPR: Randstad Education Southampton: Our cli...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A still from Central African Republic: Descent into Chaos  

Rory Peck Awards 2014 News Finalist: Pacôme Pabandji

Independent Voices
Nigel Farage has urged supporters to buy Mike Read's Ukip Calypso song and push it up to the No 1 spot  

My limerick response to Mike Read’s Ukip Calypso

Simon Kelner
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London