David Cameron announced a new “tough but intelligent” approach to criminal justice this week. It was a desperate attempt to bolster the public view of justice in Britain following a series of revelations of corruption and cover-ups.
The release of a new report into the Hillsborough football disaster last month exposed a cover-up that involved the entire establishment.
At the heart of it lies a cosy relationship between police, politicians and the media. This same relationship is at the centre of the phone hacking scandal.
Now serious questions are being asked about the battle of Orgreave, where the same police force responsible for Hillsborough attacked striking miners in 1984.
The police and the politicians will fight tooth and nail to hide the truth. For all their nods to “justice”, the rich and powerful have no interest in exposing the murky workings of their own system.
MPs debated Hillsborough in parliament this week. Home secretary Theresa May said many warm words. But like Margaret Thatcher, her main concern wasn’t for the 96 people who died and their families.
It was that the revelations about the police actions and cover up could hit their “ability to police with consent”. Labour’s shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper echoed her fears.
The police are a vital component of class rule. They protect the rich and their property while maintaining “law and order” on the streets.
But they’re not having it all their own way. The trial of Kevin Hutchinson-Foster, who is accused of supplying a gun to Mark Duggan before Mark was shot dead by police, ended with a hung jury last week.
Mark’s death triggered rioting across England in August last year. The police wanted to use the trial to claim they were right to shoot Mark. They failed.
The police have tried to block a full inquiry into the 2005 police shooting of Azelle Rodney. Last week they tried to stop Azelle’s family lawyers from seeing police footage of the shooting. They failed.
British justice is a sham. Any victories for ordinary people aren’t handed down by judges and police. They have to be wrenched from the system through struggle.
The millionaires in the government might appear untouchable. But determined campaigning can score victories.
We must keep up the fight for truth and justice for Hillsborough survivors and all those whose friends or relatives died in police custody.
But we should also fight against a system that puts justice out of reach for so many.