Socialist Worker

What we think

Issue No. 1702

What we think

Year of lies: and now the grim results

How many more must die?

DID THE press, the Tories and New Labour really think nothing would come of the lies about asylum seekers they have been spreading all year? A pile of bodies in Dover. Two racist murders elsewhere on the streets of Britain. A wave of racist attacks.

These are the brutal consequences of the war being waged against refugees. The first group died as a consequence of ever harsher laws against immigration. The other two, one in South Wales and the other in a Wiltshire village, were beaten to death by racist thugs. But they also died as a result of the vile campaign of hatred, baiting, scapegoating and persecution of refugees.

In January we were told that Afghan asylum seekers were living in luxurious hotels after a hijacked plane landed at Stansted airport. Soon Ann Widdecombe and William Hague were talking of "swamps", "tides" and "floods" of "bogus" asylum seekers.

By March the Sun was claiming "Refugee Beasts Rape Girl"-with no evidence to back up its claims. And the Daily Mail was leading a "Time To Get Beggars Off The Streets" campaign by hounding a Romanian woman asylum seeker. Jack Straw's response has been to herd more refugees into detention centres like criminals, and to stigmatise others with food vouchers.

It is this climate that has led to a marked increase in racist attacks and murders. Make no mistake. The attacks on asylum seekers are racist. Overcome

The press are not talking about white Zimbabwean farmers when they attack those who want to come into Britain, or the thousands of rich French tax dodgers who now live here. They are talking about Romanians, Iranians, Kosovans, Iraqis, and Chinese. Capitalism constantly regenerates racism. It encourages people to uproot their families and to travel across the globe to fill the demand for labour. This mixing of populations opens up the potential to overcome divisions and racism.

But it can also provide ready scagegoats. Every new group of immigrants is vulnerable. This scapegoating will mean more racism, more brutal attacks and more horrific murders if it is not stopped.

The Nazi British National Party's Nick Griffin knows it. That's why he says, "It is quite fun to watch government ministers play the race card in far cruder terms than we would ever use but pretend not to. It legitimises us."

The Nazi National Front knows it. That is why it has repeatedly tried to march in recent weeks in Margate, Kent. Over a year ago Britain was consumed with anger at the murder of Stephen Lawrence in the wake of the publication of the Macpherson report. The campaign against asylum seekers must not be allowed to turn the clock back. The events of the last week show why it is right to tackle the lies about asylum seekers in every workplace.

They show why it is right to back the statement in defence of asylum seekers, published this week in the Guardian, and to organise campaigning meetings in every locality. Everyone who can should join the demonstration on Saturday in defence of asylum seekers.

We should stand together and say loud and proud that refugees are welcome here-whether they are the victims of torture, repression and war, or whether they are the victims of a world of exploitation, poverty and debt.


Europe's biggest anti-capitalist conference

MARXISM 2000: JUST 2 WEEKS TO GO

MANY PEOPLE across the world are looking for an alternative to the rotten system we live in. Marxism 2000 brings together thousands of campaigners, trade unionists, students and others to debate what sort of alternative there is to capitalism. Meetings at the week long event include:

  • Naomi Klein, author of No Logo, will take part in an anti-capitalist rally to start the week.
  • Susan George, international campaigner against Third World debt and the World Trade Organisation, will speak on The challenge to global capitalism.
  • Liz Davies of the Labour Party's NEC, joins a discussion about Where is Labour going?
  • Julie Waterson of the Socialist Workers Party speaks on the new racism against asylum seekers.

7-14 July, central London Week ticket �39 (�31 unwaged), weekend �28 (�24 unwaged). FE and school students �17 for the week, �12 for the weekend. Free/cheap accommodation and a creche is available if you book in advance. 

Write to: Marxism 2000, PO Box 82, London E3 3LH, or phone 020 7538 2707 to book by credit card


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Sat 24 Jun 2000, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1702
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