London’s Green mayoral candidate was under Police surveillance


Labour’s Sadiq Khan won the London mayoralty despite anti-Muslim slanders from his main opponent, Zac Goldsmith.

But spare a thought for Sian Berry, the Green candidate who came in third (with 5.6% of the vote). She has been treated as an enemy of the state and

subject to surveillance by the Metropolitian police

, even though she has no criminal record.

Recently uncovered police files show that both Berry and Caroline Lucas (the Greens’ sole MP) have had their political activities monitored by the Met. Berry’s speech at last year’s Green conference was noted in her file, as were Caroline Lucas’s speeches against government spending cuts, the far right and police violence.

Lucas said that “spending precious resources on monitoring elected politicians is a clear waste of the public’s money – and sends a chilling message to those who want to engaged in peaceful political demonstration…. The police should focus resources on fighting real crime, not attempting to stifle legitimate protest.”

It was thought, wrongly, that the Police might have mended their ways after a scandal around

the surveillance of two other Green politicians in 2014

. The furore then was around police spying on Jenny Jones, a London council member who ran for the mayoralty last election, and Kent councilor Ian Driver. The police files noted their attitudes to such things as animal exports, gay marriage, cycling and police violence.

Police surveillance of Green politicians is, unfortunately, not an exclusively British phenomenon. In 2008 it was discovered that the New Zealand Police Special Investigations Group (SIG) was

running a paid agent called Rob Gilchrist

, who had infiltrated a range activist groups concerned with peace, human rights and animal rights. To gather material for the NZ Police he visited the Green parliamentary office, got himself on the Green parliamentary email list, and forwarded to the SIG information on Green Party activities, including an anti-Taser protest that I (then an MP) had initiated.

Footnote on the Green performance in UK council elections

: It appears that as well running third to Labour and the Conservatives in the London mayoralty race, the Greens also got more seats than either UKIP or the Liberal Democrats

in Scotland

. That wasn’t true in England, but the English Greens ended up with the same number of seats as in the last election, thirty four. Overall it wasn’t a bad result for the London left, with a new Labour/Green majority on the London council. In England as a whole Labour lost a few seats, but not nearly as many as the Conservatives. During the campaign you could sense that Labour’s Blairites wanted their party to do badly, so they could have another go at toppling Jeremy Corbyn.