“The recent racist riot in Knowsley, Merseyside and other anti refugee mobilisations have shown where the government’s scapegoating of refugees leads.”
By Sabby Dhalu, Stand Up To Racism
This Saturday’s demonstrations marking UN Anti-Racism Day could not be more timely. The fact that the government is prepared to give France the best part of £500 million to stop refugees from crossing Channel, yet delivered a budget that failed to give teachers, doctors, civil servants, transport workers and others a much deserved pay rise, tells you everything you need to know about racism and the cost of living crisis.
Racism is being used to scapegoat and distract from the government’s cost of living crisis failures, ahead of the May local elections and next general election. That’s the motivation behind the government’s latest anti-refugees bill which passed its second reading earlier this week.
The central plank of the bill is that it ends the passage of small boats carrying refugees across the Channel. All adults will be detained for 28 days and asylum claims will be deemed “inadmissible” whatever the individual’s circumstances. They will be removed either to their own country or a “safe third country”, such as Rwanda, if that is not possible. This will also apply to children accompanied by adults. Despite the hype, no refugee has been deported to Rwanda and it has only committed to accepting 200.
The UN High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) and others say the new bill amounts to an effective ban on the right to asylum. Some have argued that the bill deliberately breaches international law and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) in order to provoke a so-called “war on woke” ahead of the elections.
The recent racist riot in Knowsley, Merseyside and other anti refugee mobilisations have shown where the government’s scapegoating of refugees leads. Fascist organisations like “Patriotic Alternative” have adopted Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s “invasion of the Southern coast” inflammatory rhetoric as a slogan on which to mobilise. It has been organising demonstrations targeting hotels housing asylum seekers up and down the country.
Britain First has also announced it will be standing candidates in Dartford, Kent and Salford, Greater Manchester. The far right populist Reform Party will also be challenging the Conservative Party.
As the Tories lag approximately 20 points behind Labour in opinion polls, they will be seeking to out-racist the racists. Just like Enoch Powell’s “Rivers of Blood” speech built the National Front, the Tories’ racism is building fascist organisations today. Only now it is more dangerous as today’s “Powellites” are in power – not on the fringes of the Conservative Party – and living standards are worse.
The lesson of history is that we must unite against racism and fascism. That’s why this Saturday anti-racists will be marching alongside trade unionists, faith, black & LGBT+ communities.
Britain does not have a refugee crisis, but the world does. Britain has a crisis of a government determined to make the 99% worse off while the 1% rake in record profits, and stir up racism by blaming refugees.
Refugees crossing the Channel are but one tiny part of a global refugee crisis.
Only a tiny proportion of the world’s refugees come to Britain. Around 46,000 people used small boats to seek asylum in Britain in 2022, up from 9,000 in 2020, according to the latest official data. That rise came despite four previous, costly and ineffective deals with France. Yet the number of asylum applications relative to UK population size remains well below the EU average. In the year ending June 2022, Britain offered asylum or protection to a mere 15,700 people.
In contrast, last year saw about 330,000 attempts to cross the EU’s external border, the highest number since the 2016 Syrian refugee crisis and an increase of 64 per cent on 2021. In addition almost 13 million Ukrainian refugees entered the EU from Ukraine and Moldova.
Furthermore internationally according to UN figures, a record 103 million people were forcibly displaced around the world in mid-2022, of whom about 37 million were refugees or asylum seekers. Yet nearly 70% of refugees and others needing protection remained in countries bordering their land of origin.
Britain will not have 100 million people arriving to seek asylum, as Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s fear-mongering in the House of Commons suggested. Far from it. We must fight for safe passage for the refugees that need to come to Britain.
Like the Black Lives Matter movement and the support for England footballers taking the knee, the strength of support for refugees and defence of Gary Lineker, illustrate that anti-racists are the majority.
Indeed, Gary Lineker’s inspirational opposition to the government’s racist agenda, refusing to back down and the solidarity demonstrated by Ian Wright, Alan Shearer, Alex Scott, other BBC co-workers and the Professional Footballers Association, forced the BBC to U-turn and apologise for its handling of the issue.
Let’s make the voice of anti-racists heard this Saturday in London, Glasgow and Cardiff. These events are part of a global “World Against Racism” day of action involving 20 countries to say we are one world against racism.
Let’s march to fight the Tories bill to ban refugees! Join us:
LONDON: ASSEMBLE at 12 NOON BBC PORTLAND PLACE.
GLASGOW: ASSEMBLE at 11AM GEORGE SQUARE.
CARDIFF: ASSEMBLE 11AM at CARDIFF CITY HALL.
- Sabby Dhalu is Co-convenor of Stand up to Racism. You can follow her on Twitter here and SUTR on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
- You can find full information about Saturday’s (March 18th) Demonstrations in London, Cardiff and Glasgow here.
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