Socialist Worker

Refugees welcome here rallies and Labour leadership results as they happened

Issue No. 2470

5.21

That's it from us. Today saw some 50,000 people on the streets of London. In towns and cities thousands more came out to show their solidarity with refugees.

On the same day many were cheered with the election of Jeremy Corbyn as the Labour Party leader (more here http://socialistworker.co.uk/art/41297/SWP+statement+on+election+of+Jeremy+Corbyn+becoming+Labour+Party+Leader ). Corbyn's first act as leader was to join the demonstration 

In London Weyman Bennett from Stand Up to Racism spoke to the crowd in Parliament Square. To roars of applause he said, "The demonstration today tells David Cameron - refugees are welcome and you're not.

"I went to Calais, less than 100 miles away, where people live among sand dunes without water. They have more humanity in their fingernail than the man in Number 10. 

"We won't accept a single death in our name and let David Cameron divide us.

"Open the border!"

For more on the protests see next weeks Socialist Worker.

5.15

Gareth Hill reports from Cardiff:

"Over 700 people marched through Cardiff calling for the government to open the borders and let migrants and refugees into Britain. Refugees joined a march that was applauded and joined by shoppers in the city centre.

"There were union banners, and PCS and Unite union representatives spoke at a vibrant rally among others.

"Speakers condemned David Cameron for labelling refugees a 'swarm'. They reacted with anger to the government allowing just 20,000 Syrian refugees into Britain over the next five years."

Refugees were also among the crowd protesting in Glasgow. Syrian refugee Tahir arrived in Britain three months ago after an eight-month journey.

He said he had been "made to feel welcome". "Most people I have spoken to seem to understand my situation and the struggle it has taken to flee my  home to escape war," he said.

"I have definitely felt more comfortable as a refugee in Glasgow compared to when I was Lebanon forces to live in a refugee camp."

But Tahir added that Britain's government isn't doing enough. "I cannot bring my family over from Syria," he said. "They are still facing the threat of death every day."

 

4.00

The crowd roared when newly elected Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn  came onto the stage. 

Jeremy Corbyn speaks to the crowd in London

Jeremy Corbyn speaks to the crowd in London


He said, "I've never seen Parliament Square so full and beautiful as today.  We as ordinary, decent people are standing up to out government today. 

"Wars don't end when the last bulle is fired - refugees move and keep moving. 
"They are all victims of war - so surely we should be looking for peaceful solutions."
The crowd's fists clenched in the air, Billy Bragg led off The Red Flag socialist song


3.50

The Close Campsfield campaign who hold monthly protests outside Campsfield detention centre near Oxford were on the march. 

Stephanie told Socialist Worker "People are being locked up without trial for long periods of time instead of being integrated into society. 

"That includes people who have applied for refugee status and are still waiting to find out if they've got it - it's where some of the people who are fleeing here now could end up."

Rhania Khan a Tower Hamlets councillor told Socialist Worker, "This is amazing. People from all backgrounds and faiths demanding humanity is recognised. 

This is not a migrant crisis, it's a humanitarian crisis. It feels like the tide is turning - everyone is here. We need to keep it going, particularly for the next generations and give them an alternative.

Abdul

Abdul

 

Abdul said, "It's fantastic to see this solidarity, it's historic. We need to kick David Cameron to show him up for his heartlessness."

Abdul is also a member of the Labour Party. He said, "Jeremy is a beacon of hope. Now he's got to oppose the Tories properly and harness the wider support he has. I want to see an end to the internal market in the NHS - they are trying to destroy it."

 


3.45

Richard reports from Exeter:

About 500 people at the rally, and a real sense that there's been a change in the political atmosphere in the city. 

The response to the call for donations has been overwhelming, and one of the organisers told us that she was "too tired to talk, move or think" after a day sorting out the thousands and thousands of donations. In his column in the local paper, one of the Exeter City players wrote, "I’m appalled our government hasn’t done more and, while it’s good that the Prime Minister has finally been shamed into action, I think it’s pathetic that we’ve only agreed to take 20,000 refugees over the course of the next five years while other countries have agreed to take significantly more."


3.40

Swansea

Swansea


Manchester

Manchester


 


3.28

Glasgow

Glasgow


Leamington

Leamington


Cardiff

Cardiff


 


2.39

NationGalle

Nationa Galler strikers greet the march


Strikers from the National Gallery greeted the London demo (pictured).

One told Socialist Worker, "This is great - it will show refugees trying to get here that they have a lot of support.

"And it's great that Labour now has a Labour leader someone who'll stand up for people, not just a Conservative leader who wants to sell everything off. I think a lot of people will want to join now. I might join." 

Adrian Budd and Shaminder Takha were part of a delegation from the UCU union branch at London South Bank University. 

Shaminder said, "I came here today and I saw this many people and I thought i was fantastic. It's like we've all had an individual response, now we're having a collective response. "

NUT union general secretary Christine Blower told Socialist Worker, "The British government's woeful and appalling response means we have to demonstrate today. 

"The NUT is internationalist and stands in solidarity with people in struggle. Whether that's people fighting for their jobs and livelihoods - or their lives."

On the Labour leadership she added, "The NUT isn't affiliated and didn't have a position on the leadership. 

"But when I looked at what the leadership candidates had to say, Jeremy was the only one that resonates with NUT policy. 

"I'm looking forward to getting Labour to think about those policies."

Groups on the protest, Quakers, Greens, Action Aid, Refugee Action, Movement for Justice, Legal and advice workers, Syria solidarity movement Stop the War Coalition, Stand up to Racism and many more.

Trade union banners included banners include Soas unison, Hackney unison, City and Islington college NUT, national UCU, Institute of Education UCU and the national PCS.


2.06

Selman Shwaish is a Syrian refugee living Huddersfield. He told Socialist Worker, "I came to Britain illegally three years ago on a fake visa. 

"They should open the borders - 20,000 is nothing. 

Selman

Selman

 

"Many of our families, including mine, are still in Syria. I'm asking the government to let me bring them here."

While Sleman also thought Britain should bomb Assad. Protestor Ruby was more sceptical, "I think the British government is feeding the war. 

"They only get involved if there's some financial benefit to them."

Many people are unsure if Britain should intervene or not. Stephanie said, "it might be a longer term thing, but would probably make the refugee crisis worse."

But the demo is united on letting more refugees in. Ruby added, "There's plenty of unlived homes  in Britain. It's a myth that there's note night room". 

Unison union rep Barry thinks the unions should do more. "They could get their members to collect for the refugees - but also use their political muscle to pressure the governmentt"


 

1.38

The whistles and drums from the sea of demonstrators gave way to loud cheers after Weyman Bennett from Stand Up to Racism announced, "At the front of the march are 100 refugees who made it into Britain - lets give them a huge round of applause because they are welcome here."

Others on the protest had come to Britain as refugees too - and poured scorn on the politicians' claims that there was no room. Prossy, an asylum seeker from Burundi said, "If I flee my country it's not because I want to, it's because I need protection. There is room to accommodate everyone who's in need - the only thing that's too small is the heart. "

Tzeggi from Eritrea now works helping other refugees. "There is enough wealth in the world to be shared," he said. "If humans can't accept other hunans then what is humanity for."

Slamming Cameron's plans to accept exclusively Syrians, he added, "There should be no discrimination between refugees. People from Eritrea are fleeing a dictatorship. We fought to free our country from colonialism - would we be leaving it now unless we really had to?"

Aidan

Aidan


School student Aidan came from Guildford to join his first demo. "Britain is one of the richest countries in the EU - we could offer people a new life and new prosperity," he said. "The refugees need to be welcomed. I was really disappointed at the general election and what the govt is doing has proven my fears. People are here coming together to make a difference. "

Meanwhile at the rally in Manchester Julie Reid, a councillor for Manchester Gorton south told Socialist Worker, "As a councillor me and other councillors saw those images and decided we had to do something as a council. 

"So we have organised collection points, donations and convoys to Calais. 

"Refugees across Europe need support, not just this month, but ongoing. Our responsibility as Labour councillors is not just to the people of Manchester but to people across the world. Labour must get back to its roots."


1.20

Ian Hodson from the bakers' Bfawu union told Socialist Worker,  "This gives Jeremy Corbyn a huge mandate and is a recognition that people want politics for the people, not big business. That's why our union backed him.

"It's now an opportunity to build a movement for all our communities and fight to change society for the better."


1.10

Hackney Labour MP Diane Abbott spoke to Socialist Worker about the Labour leadership. She said, "The result shows that ordinary Labour members want a return to core Labour values - peace abroad and social justice at home.
"Jeremy will have to put together a shadow cabinet that will go forward campaigning for the sort of things he talked about in his election campaign.
"Jeremy has worked with a lot of social movements and he'll want the Labour Party at grassroots level to be involved in grassroots movements as well. I think it's a huge step forward for progressive politics."


1.05

Birmingham

Hundreds gather in Birmingham (Pic: Pete Jackson)


 


12.50

on thedemo

Getting to the start of the protest


Crowds are clambering over embankment to reach assmbly point in front of London Hilton hotel. Journalism student Hatice was one of them. "We don't need to just feel sorry while sitting at home - we need to take action.

"In Calais there are people risking there lives to get on the Eurotunnel. Of course we need to open the border. We can worry about the paperwork later - people are dying now."

Abdulrazzak Tammo came here from Syria three years ago. He left to escape dictator Bashar Al-Assad.

"I can't go back there," he told Socialist Worker, "The government needs to take many more of the refugees - they need help."

He looked pained at the idea of the West bombing Syria but said it could "make things better" if Assad was attacked.

Many marchers carried placards reading, "Don't bomb Syria".


12.35

At the entrance to Hyde Park protesters picked up placards from Amnesty International, Stand Up to Racism,  Stop the War coalition and Socialist Worker.

Tessa told Socialist Worker, "My grandfather was a migrant so it's very personal to me - if he hadn't been allowed in I wouldn't be here."

Gohar said, "When my friend told me about the demonstration I'd donated to various charities, but wanted to do something tangible,  not just from my couch."

Gohar

Gohar


Tessa

Tessa


 

Many protesters were unclear on the solution to the crisis - but were  angry at David Cameron's proposal to take in just 20,000 Syrians.

Mitra said, "We need to take in as many as we can, and what David Cameron is proposing is bullshit."

Gohar said, "On a compassionate level I'd want to take in everyone, on a practical level I know that's not possible - but 20,000 seems like a very low number."

But Tessa was just as sceptical about the politicians' obsession with separating economic migrants from "real" refugees.  "How are they going to distinguish them - are there going to be background checks into everyone? It's a difficult question but I don't see how it would work".

Mitra adamantly opposed proposals to bomb syria. "I lived through a war in Iran, thats why i came here, so I know what it means. We all have to take a stand."


12.21

Loud cheers went up at Speakers Corner where people were gathering for the Refugees are Welcome rally. 

Joanne Connolly told Socialist Worker, "The right wing press tried to smear Jeremy - but they haven't succeeded. 

"This is about a break with austerity and not just appealing to the bankers in the Conservatives."

The mood that encapsulated the Jeremy Corbyn campaign has continued with the result. 

Matthew Dyson told Socialist Worker, "I'm really really happy. This is really great for the Labour Party and democracy. 

"It's really good he's going to the refugees demo.

"There's going to be a battle now against the Tory machine. I think he'll get a lot of abuse in the media and from people like Blair and Mandelson. But he's got enough support to get him through that."

Rita said, "Things will be more open now. There's such a feeling for Jeremy that it'll be impossible for them to get him out. He's got so much support they'll be shooting themselves in the foot"

Patrick Brough added "I canvassed for Tony Benn in Chesterfield in the 1980s. I always thought he was the best leader we never had.

"I'm in shock now really at the result. But it's nice to have some hope."

Corbyn is going to the Refugees are Welcome protest and so are thousands of others.

 


The scenes in Hyde Park as the Corbyn result is announced

Hyde ParkHyde Park

 

 

 

 

 

 


11.54

The Socialist Worker's Party has released a statment on theelection of Jeremy Corbyn:

The Blairites are crying, we’re cheering.

The Socialist Workers Party congratulates Jeremy Corbyn on becoming Labour party leader.

His success is a clear sign of the feeling against austerity, racism and war. His victory is an utter rejection of the warmongering and veneration of big business that were the hallmarks of the Tony Blair eras.

We look forward to continuing to work with Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters against the disastrous Tory policies that threaten to destroy key public services, deepen poverty, whip up racism and plunge British armed forces into more imperialist wars.

SWP national secretary Charlie Kimber said, “Jeremy Corbyn’s victory is a boost to everyone who hates austerity and racism. It comes as tens of thousands of people across Britain are marching to say ‘Refugees are welcome’. Jeremy Corbyn’s rallies have seen large and enthusiastic audiences come to cheer a socialist message. Those people must become a movement in the streets and the workplaces that can block and then remove this Tory government.”

The SWP did not sign up to vote in the election. But today we are on the streets in defence of refugees together with Labour Party members, and on 4 October we will be with them on the demonstration at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester.

We will work together against the Trade Union Bill that is designed to weaken the resistance from workers, and in every strike and protest.

Jeremy Corbyn will face a firestorm of opposition from those Labour figures horrified by any move leftwards. There are 20 Labour MPs who really back Corbyn. There are 210 who don’t. 

There will be massive pressure on Corbyn to compromise and appease the right wing. That will be disastrous. Boldness and a break from “politics as usual” won Corbyn his support. He must not back down.

We call on him to redouble the efforts against austerity and war, to campaign against Trident and for an end to Britain’s membership of NATO. It will be crucial to call on Labour councilors to stop implementing the Tory cuts.

Real change will need an assault on wealth and power. The election of the Syriza government in Greece in January sent hope across the world.

But it faced the brutal financial, economic and political pressure of European Union institutions, the bankers and the rich. It is now implementing a worse round of austerity than those imposed by its Tory predecessors. That’s why we think we need a movement independent of Labour.

 


11.45

Burnham 19%

Cooper 17%

Corbyn   59%

Kendall 4.5% 

Corbyn wins

 


11.38

Tom Watson is the new deputy leader of the Labour Party. He thanks the miners' union the NUM and other unions and New Labour dies a little more. He is doing a reaching out speech as was entirely predictable.

In Hyde Park there is a party atmosphere developing.

Andrew, new Labour Party member, "I came from the Greens, like lots of people.

"I don't agree with all Jeremy Corbyn's policies. But I think he'll try and get rid of the top down element of the party.

"He's not ridiculous, as the media has portrayed him. He's a practical socialist."


11.28

Corbyn supporters are gathered around a radio in Hyde park to hear the result.
They included many new Labour Party members.
Kezia Fender is a student from Oxford. She told SW, "I only decided to back Corbyn when I went in to vote.
"I used to be torn between Labour and the Greens. But I think it's good that the left is joining Labour.
"A lot of people who never had anything good to vote for do now."


11.20

As we wait for the result the bookies have a message, pictured.

The odds are out

The odds are out


 

 

 

 

 

 

 


11.05

Today also sees the the election of the labour party leader. Jeremy Corbyn supporters greeted his arrival at the count with chants of "Jez we can" and sang the Red Flag. One supporter told Socialist Worker "If he wins I'm joining the Labour Party. I'll probably be too excited to speak - I'll just be jumping up and down. If he loses I'll be too depressed."

Sally also a Corbyn backer said, "I'm nervous. I think they might try and pull a fast one. I wasn't allowed a vote and I think there's a lot of people like me.

"I've been a Labour member before, but I left to join the Greens. I left them to vote for Corbyn.

"If he wins it'll be a new start."

SoSocialist Worker's letter to a Corbyn supporter is here


Today sees a series of rallies here and abroad in support of refugees. 

In London campaigners will gather from 12 noon at Marble Arch and march to Parliament Square for a rally at 2pm.

The day of action was called by a number of campaigning groups including Stand Up To Racism.

In stark contrast to the racism of politicians and the media there have been thousands of acts of solidarity.

For instance Nick Grant sent the picture below and reports, "At the end of last month as I arrived on a ferry at the island of Symi, near Rhodes, Greece. 

"These people will now be amongst the thousands somewhere in central Europe looking for a home. I met some of the people on this boat in the days following their arrival. The local support network was amazing. 

"We helped wash their clothes, serve scraps of food and left most of our own clothing with them when we left.

standuptoracism.org.uk

If you have a report or picture of today get in touch. email sbasketter@yahoo.com

 


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