“We have to call a spade a spade and a racist act a racist act and there is no doubt that this government is conducting racist acts and illegal acts.”
By Mish Rahman
Fighting discrimination and fighting Tories used to be synonymous with each other. Those times haven’t changed.
Just last month Michael Gove – one of the chief architects of the culture war blamed what he called “radical social change activists” for the increasing divisions in Britain while Lee Anderson, probably better known as “30p Lee”, has openly admitted that the Tories are intentionally intending to ramp up the culture war against migrants, refugees and trans people.
And why is that?
Because the government wants to keep the cost of living crisis, the crippling energy prices, the climate crisis, the housing crisis, the social care crisis, rising poverty and the lack of decent pay OFF the agenda.
This is not a new strategy, the rich elite and their Tory mates have been attempting to divide us for years.
The divisiveness and continuous increase in xenophobia from this government has long been central to the Conservatives’ strategy – from David Cameron using dehumanising language in 2015 describing migrants as a swarm, to Theresa May who unleashed Home Office vans with the words ‘Go Home’ written on the side and Boris Johnson attacking the way Muslim women dress.
The message has always been that refugees and immigrants, minorities and Muslims are to be distrusted, hated and abused. All this is aided by the right wing press and now often the BBC which has Tories at the top of the organisation who give cover to the government as they continue the clampdown on basic civil rights through draconian bill after draconian bill.
One important way we can beat this and drown out their hatred is with solidarity – just like Gary Lineker’s mates at Match of the Day showed.
We beat this by being unapologetically anti racist. Not just unapologetically but unashamedly, unabashedly and audaciously anti racist.
When it comes to being anti racist, we cannot sit on a fence and allow our tone to be policed either.
The “culture war” is not “just a distraction” – issues such as abortion, racism against migrants and trans rights are life and death issues for many. So instead of giving up this space by calling it a distraction, we have to fill that vacuum with our anti-racism.
We have to call a spade a spade and a racist act a racist act and there is no doubt that this government is conducting racist acts and illegal acts.
Everyone seeking asylum, regardless of where they’re from, deserves our unconditional solidarity, and they deserve safety and equal rights – including the right to work, access social security and be reunited with their families.
The only way to stop the boats, is to provide safe and legal routes so that those suffering oppression can access them. This is not controversial.
This a common human right.
The lack of a safe passage means we are seeing increasing numbers of desperate people climbing into dinghies to cross the English Channel.
Counter to common myth, this country is not overloaded by refugees and immigrants either. My grandfather left Bangladesh for a better life 60 years ago but Britain takes less refugees than Bangladesh now!
Millions of refugees around the world are fleeing their homelands as a result of wars, most often illegal wars that we (the West) waged in the name of “making the world a better place”.
There is always money for weapons and war, always money to bail out a troublesome boss or an oil company or a bank or for foreign regime change.
The question the Labour Party needs to ask is – what is the moral purpose of our nation?
Britain was built on refugees and migrants. We only have to look at the Blitz to see the success of a compassionate refugee policy. As bombs rained down on London, thousands of children were saved by being evacuated to rural England. Britain should be proud of its history of the Kindertransport and more recently of taking in Asians from Africa and offering safe haven to those suffering at the hands of Putin in Ukraine.
Britain’s history is not simple but we take pride in those moments where we did, as a country, stand up to protect human life.
That should be the moral mission of Labour especially to build a conception of British life based on our shared humanity.
If we cannot stand up to save human life, children’s lives, then what can we stand for?
A Labour government has to revoke the illegal migration bill and open safe and legal routes.
- Mish Rahman is a members’ representative on Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC). You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
- You can read more response to the Tories’ Anti-Migrant Bill on Labour Outlook – read Nadia Whittome MP’s recent article here and Praxis, for Migrants and Refugees here.