RECENTLY while travelling near the Valero refinery mine was one of many cars being pulled over and stopped by a considerable police presence consisting of a number of officers and vans.

The officer told me they were questioning motorists as part of – and I quote – a 'counter-terrorism operation' and duly checked my driving licence and car's documents.

I was reasonably happy to comply until he handed me a leaflet with police contact details on it and said that if I saw anything suspicious, particularly in view of recent Extinction Rebellion protests, I should contact police to report it.

I found it chilling that what is essentially a campaign of non-violent, civil disobedience should be represented by our police force as terrorist activity.

Yet sadly it comes as no surprise given the stance of the current government, whose leader is happy to describe climate change protesters of all ages and backgrounds – professionals, working people, young and old – as 'hemp-smelling crusties'.

I remember too well the days of the 1984 miners' strike when, in an effort to control (perfectly legal) picketing, any group of men travelling together in a car in south Wales were liable to be stopped and searched by police.

The actions of the then prime minister Margaret Thatcher in turning the police force into an army fighting a battle against one section of society changed the nature of the relationship between police and the public forever.

It's no secret that Thatcher is an icon to our current leaders in Whitehall; sadly it's no surprise that they also choose to police Extinction Rebellion in the same way.


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