The steady erosion of democracy in Britain has been exposed by the way police handled last Sunday’s demonstration against George Bush.
Anti-war protesters were first banned from marching past Downing Street during Bush’s dinner date with Brown, and then denied the right even to deliver a protest letter to Gordon’s den.
When members of the Stop the War Coalition dared to lay their hands on a barrier protecting Whitehall, police responded with batons – something they are unlikely to have done without permission from on high.
For a long time police have avoided attacking demonstrations, aware that during the 1980s and 1990s this behaviour hardened hostile attitudes towards them. But Sunday’s police violence is a painful reminder of their key role as defenders of the state and the property of the rich.