David Cameron announced a new racist crackdown on Monday. He declared he would remove housing from “failed” asylum seekers.
The authorities are determined to turn the refugee crisis into a security crisis.
The new anti-migrant fence the Tories threatened is being built this week at the French entrance to the tunnel. Now it promises extra sniffer dogs to hunt down migrants. These are being sent to aid the reinforced French riot police.
All sides agree that the only solution is to find ways to stop migrants coming. But Socialist Worker says that all these problems would be finished by removing the border fences.
Cameron argues that if conditions for refugees are made as bad as in France then fewer will come. Asylum seekers in France are forced to sleep rough while their cases are processed.
The new measures are to be added to the immigration bill, which he hopes to rush through when parliament meets again at the beginning of September.
The aim is to be able to evict people without a court order, removing another check on the mistreatment of tenants.
Any landlord who failed to follow these rules would face a criminal conviction and be liable for five years in prison.
This is a charter for the racist scapegoating of all black people, not only asylum seekers.
This will make landlords reject all tenants who look like they might be a “problem”. It means that any foreign or black person will have to carry a passport when they are trying to find a place to live.
The government’s talk of “rogue” landlords is an attempt to repeat the tactic that got people to worry about “people traffickers” in the Mediterranean. They don’t want people to ask why migrants would take such desperate measures.
Cameron dismissed the refugees as “a swarm of people coming across the Mediterranean, seeking a better life”, last week.
Acting Labour leader Harriet Harman rightly called these comments “incendiary”. But her main worry has not been over inhumanity to the migrants, but whether British holidaymakers and hauliers would get compensation.
Nigel Farage of Ukip has so far been outflanked and was reduced to repeating the prime minister’s offensive reference to a swarm.
Home secretary Theresa May sternly informed desperate refugees that “our streets are not paved with gold”. With her French counterpart, Bernard Cazeneuve, she is attempting to work out way to repatriate the migrants, rather than offering them refuge.
Police and crime commissioner Kevin Hurley—in charge of neighbouring Surrey not Kent—went as far as calling for the British army to send in the Royal Gurkha Rifles. He added, “They could help to ensure that our border is not breached”.
The British media is wrong about the Calais “crisis”. Beyond the opportunities granted by the tailbacks the strike caused there is no great change in the number of migrants in Calais.
Meanwhile at least one more migrant—a 26-year-old Sudanese man—died on Wednesday of last week. Another two were seriously injured in the same incident.
Protesters in Folkestone show support for migrants
Around 30 people demonstrated in support of the Calais migrants on Saturday outside the Eurotunnel Service Area at Folkestone in Kent. The demonstration was called by Folkestone United and Thanet People’s Assembly.
Bridget Chapman, from Folkestone United, told the demonstrators she wanted migrants in Calais to know that a lot of people stand with them.
She also said Operation Stack, which parks backed-up lorries on the M20 motorway, is an inconvenience. But she argued that the difference between being slightly delayed and ending up dead on top of a train is quite a big one.
Bridget told Socialist Worker that it is possible to take on the distortions in the media and can change people’s minds. She said, “You have to argue and point the finger at the government—and you can get somewhere.”
Around 40 fascists from Britain First and the EDL also turned up in a counter demonstration.
Stand Up to Racism called a demonstration to support the Calais migrants outside Downing Street in central London last Friday.
Weyman Bennett from Stand Up to Racism said, “French workers are striking for a living wage. It’s not the migrants that are causing the blockade—it’s the bosses.”
Thanks to Steve Wilkins
Trucking bosses put drivers at risk
A strike by ferry workers in Calais has led to long delays for lorries crossing the English Channel.
Haulage firms remain determined to get the maximum profit out of one of the world’s biggest shipping routes—so the pressure has been on drivers.
They face long queues—some as long as 12 hours—on both sides of the Channel.
On the British side, the government is now set to use Ministry of Defence land as extra queueing space.
It has also extended the maximum time drivers can spend in their cab, which drivers’ union Unite warns could endanger safety.
Czech driver Petr told Socialist Worker, “I think the authorities who are making us wait on the motorway are to blame. That’s why there’s such a big blockage.”