Corbyn condemned the Tory deportations to Jamaica and the scapegoating of migrants and refugees. “Our health, our education, our society, in part, depend on the work of people who have made their homes in this country,” he said.
“To those xenophobes and others, I simply say, do you really want to shut down our public services when you start getting rid of those that make such a wonderful contribution to our society.”
Corbyn was speaking at an Islington SUTR meeting on the hostile environment, one of a series of events to build support for the demonstrations in two weeks' time.
On the same night, around 150 people joined a Love Music Hate Racism gig in Glasgow and 40 gathered for an SUTR meeting in Newham in east London. Speakers included one of the local Labour MPs, Stephen Timms, and Zita Holbourne from Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (Barac).
Earlier in the week around 100 people joined “an evening of anti-racist politics and culture” in Birmingham.
Meanwhile, anti-racists marched around the streets of Brixton, south London, on Saturday to raise awareness about the Tory deportation flights. The protest was organised by SUTR South London, the Movement for Justice detainee rights group and the Lambeth Unison union branch’s black workers' group.
Chants of “No charter flights, we want human rights” rang out as the 60-strong march made its way around Brixton market.
There were huge cheers for Christopher, a Jamaican man threatened with deportation who was released on bail from Harmondsworth immigration detention centre on Wednesday. “The Home Office is the biggest racist in this country,” he said.
Bell Ribeiro-Addy, Labour’s shadow immigration minister, said it was “absolutely amazing to see people shutting down parliament square” in the week running up to the charter flight last month.
Ribeiro-Addy slammed the Tories’ Immigration Bill, which makes it harder for people to come to live in Britain. “There is no such thing as unskilled work—there is only low paid work,” she said.
“We don’t have the nurses and social workers we need because the government wants to pursue its hostile environment.”
She urged people to “keep coming out because it really makes a difference”.
Mhotsi from south London said he has been on all the protests against charter flights. He told Socialist Worker, “They will continue to do it because they can get away with it.
“But things like sitting down on Whitehall can make them listen.”
With the Tories on the attack, there must be no concessions to the myth that migration undermines wages and publicservice. Too often union leaders and Labour give ground to such ideas and thereby divert attention from the real problems, the bosses and the rich.
SUTR has called a national day of action in support of refugees and migrants next Saturday, 14 March.
The demonstrations on 21 March are an opportunity to build a bigger movement against the Tories’ racist assault.