Socialist Worker

Anti-racist rallies build support for mass demos on 19 March

by Jay Williams and Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2491

Anti Racists on last year’s Stand up to Racism march in London Picture: Guy Smallman

Anti Racists on last year’s Stand up to Racism march in London (Pic: Guy Smallman)

People across Britain are joining rallies against racism, in support of refugees and to build mass demonstrations on Saturday 19 March.

Meanwhile the general secretaries of Britain’s two biggest unions—Len McCluskey of Unite and Dave Prentis of Unison—pledged support for the demonstration.

The meetings have been organised by Stand Up to Racism.

A meeting in Sheffield on Monday saw 150 trade unionists anti-racist activists, Muslims, socialists and others come together.

A main focus at the meeting was the Tories’ treatment and scapegoating of refugees.

People bought tickets for and made a commitment to building the demonstration in London.

Labour councillor Nasima Akther said, “I’m proud to live in Sheffield a City of Sanctuary which welcomes refugees.

“My message to David Cameron is, you cannot divide us with your racist scapegoating.”

And Collette, who was at the meeting said, “I’m going on the demo because I’m fed up of people fleeing war and starvation being blamed for something that has been caused by the bankers and super rich.”

Some 200 people joined a rally organised in Balham, south London, on Wednesday of last week.

Aisha Ahmed, who’s planning on joining the London march, told Socialist Worker, “There are a lot of different opinions on refugees.

“But there is also a significant number of people who support them.

“Even if the demo doesn’t immediately shift the government, it will show that people care about the issue and build the movement.”

Murad Qureshi, a London Assembly Labour member, said, “Britain’s refugee intake is too low, too slow and too narrow.”


Finn Brennan from the Aslef train drivers’ union slammed David Cameron for dismissing refugees trapped in Calais as a “bunch of migrants”.

The support for refugees is also boosting people’s confidence to take on the government’s Islamophobic Prevent strategy.

Imam Suliman Gani said, “Muslims are feeling demonised and marginalised, but with this gathering we know we’re not alone.

“United we stand, divided we fall”.

Weyman Bennett from Stand Up to Racism said, “I was contacted by the authorities to say the demo might be too close to the elections.

“That’s not the real reason they contacted us—they’re scared of lots of people coming out and opposing the government’s policies.

“There’s more of us that there are of them—we have to get a voice.”

The rallies were the first of many planned in towns and cities across Britain to build for the demonstrations in London, Glasgow and Cardiff.

Teenagers sent to warzones

Thousands of children who came to Britain as unaccompanied refugees were deported back to warzones after they turned 18.

Many are orphans with no link to these countries, having spent their formative years in Britain.

As many as 2,748 former unaccompanied child asylum seekers have been deported to Afghanistan, Libya or Syria since 2007.

Immigration minister James Brokenshire admitted last week that the number was more than two and a half times higher than he’d claimed in November.

Brokenshire claimed 1,040 had been deported.

A total of 657 were sent to Iraq.

Future Stand Up to Racism rallies include:

NEWCASTLE: MARCH AND RALLY,  1pm, Centre for Life, Times Square, NE1 4EP

LONDON: EALING Tue 23 Feb, 7.30pm, St Mary’s Church Hall, St Mary’s Rd, W5 5RH

LONDON: HACKNEY Wed 24 Feb, 7.30pm, The Round Chapel, 2 Powerscroft Rd (corner Lower Clapton Rd), E5 0PU

LONDON: ISLINGTON Mon 29 Feb,  7pm, Islington Town Hall, Upper Street, N1 2UD

LONDON: NEWHAM Tuesday 8 March, 7pm, The Vineyard Highway Church, 92 Romford Rd, E15 4EH

LONDON: SOUTH EAST Tuesday 1 March,  7pm, Goldsmiths College Main Building, Room 137a near New Cross/New Cross Gate stations

LONDON: TOWER HAMLETS Thu 3 Mar, 6.15pm, London Muslim Centre, 46 Whitechapel Rd, E1 1JX

CAMBRIDGE: Tuesday 1 March, 7pm, Keynes Hall, Kings College, Cambridge CB2 1ST

LONDON: HARINGEY, Thursday 3 March, 7.30pm, West Indian Cultural Centre, 9 Clarendon Rd, N8 0DJ

MANCHESTER Tue 1 Mar, 7pm, Friends Meeting House, 6 Mount St, M2 5NS SHEFFIELD Mon 15 Feb, 7pm, Sheffield Hallam University, Owen Building, Pennine Lecture Theatre, S1 1WB

NOTTINGHAM Thursday 3 March, 7pm, Friends Meeting House, Clarendon Street, NG1 5JD

Join the demos

Protest on Saturday 19 March

  • London—assemble12 noon, Portland Place, W1A 1AA
  • Glasgow—assemble 12 noon George Square
  • Cardiff—assemble 11:30am, Clare Gardens, CF11 6EN
  • Backed by the TUC, NUT, CWU, PCS, Unite and Unison unions

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