Socialist Worker

Anti-racism

Issue No. 1875

Sheffield

SOME 110 people came to a Sheffield Coalition Against Racism meeting at Sheffield town hall on Friday of last week. Since the local elections in May, when the Nazi BNP polled 18 percent in Brightside and 11 percent in Handsworth, there has been a desire to see united opposition to the Nazis in Sheffield.

Speakers at the meeting included the home secretary, David Blunkett, who is a Sheffield MP. He spoke to the left about the need for unity against the Nazis and about his recent amnesty for 15,000 asylum seekers.

While it was welcome to see Blunkett speak out against the BNP, there is a gap between his attitude to the BNP and his attacks on asylum seekers. Ultimately Blunkett 'passed the buck' on the question of racism and this made people at the meeting angry.

The only person to directly attack Blunkett from the platform was Sabby Dhalu from the National Assembly Against Racism. She got the biggest round of applause when she said: 'The home secretary and government argue that being 'tough' on asylum seekers will defeat the BNP. This approach is not only wrong, it has not worked elsewhere and will not work here either. Appeasing the French National Front led to six million votes going to Le Pen in France. When the government and mainstream political parties adopt policies like these it makes the BNP seem more acceptable and makes it more likely for them to get elected.'

Cynthia Wilson from Sharrow, who had come to the meeting with her family, said, 'It was all rhetoric, it was about the elections. The government has to take responsibility for racism-there's racism at the top.'
ALAN KENNY


Glasgow

ASYLUM SEEKERS in Glasgow are seeing the real meaning of home secretary David Blunkett's 'firm but fair' asylum policy. The city council has been instructed by the Home Office to enforce 167 eviction notices against asylum seekers whose applications have been rejected. In the recent past Blunkett has judged it safe to return opposition activists to the Mugabe dictatorship in Zimbabwe and Roma Gypsies to Eastern European countries with a rising tide of anti-Roma racism.

Many of the refugees branded as 'bogus' by the Home Office preferred to take their chances on the streets of Scotland rather than return to the countries they fled.

The Glasgow Campaign to Welcome Refugees plans to hold a rally on Monday 10 November, 5pm, in George Square. The rally will be followed at 7pm by a public meeting at Strathclyde University Student Union, John Street.


Kent

TEAMS OF Anti Nazi League supporters in Margate, Kent, have been campaigning against the Nazi BNP. The BNP are contesting a by-election in the Central ward caused by the resignation of a Tory councillor.

The National Front targeted Margate three years ago, organising marches and a demonstration outside a refugee induction centre. But an anti-Nazi campaign saw the National Front poll less than 1 percent of the vote in the 2001 election. One anti-Nazi campaigner said, 'The Tories seem to have given up on the seat.

But racism against refugees is not as obvious as in the past. We have met people who say they will vote BNP as a way of giving two fingers to the Tories and New Labour.' The Anti Nazi League is planning to put out a further leaflet on the evening before the election with a statement signed by well known local figures.
JON FLAIG


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Sat 1 Nov 2003, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1875
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