Socialist Worker

Birmingham riots

Issue No. 1974

The usual suspects seized on the tragic events in the Lozells area of Birmingham last weekend to proclaim, yet again, that “multiculturalism has failed”.

That is now code for the racist idea that different ethnic groups cannot get on with one another. What last weekend in fact showed was the bankruptcy of all those who claim that it is not racism but the unwillingness of ethnic minorities to integrate that is a problem.

The African Caribbean population in Birmingham, as in the rest of Britain, is extensively integrated. But still they face higher levels of unemployment than other groups and appalling discrimination at school.

The Asian Muslim population of Lozells live in a mixed neighbourhood. But that hasn’t stopped them, along with their counterparts across Britain, being accused of refusing to integrate.

Poverty and racism are at the root of the tensions. What’s needed is an uncompromising fight that unites all working people against both.

In opposition to that, New Labour and the mainstream parties promote talk of rival groups represented by “community leaders” who are vetted to make sure they don’t offer a radical challenge to the establishment.

The result is fragmentation as people are encouraged to fight each other for diminishing crumbs. The message of unity Respect put out in Birmingham is inseparable from the coalition’s commitment to fundamental social change.

Deaths in Iraq

How many more will die for George Bush?

The number of US troops killed in Iraq was set to go over the 2,000 figure this week. More Americans have died in Iraq than were killed in the first four years of the Vietnam war.

The number of British troops killed is 97 at the time of writing. That will, tragically, top the 100 figure sometime soon. A thousand times more Iraqis have been killed.

The death of the hundredth British soldier should not just be an occasion for mourning, but also for protest.

Bush and Blair cannot bring peace to Iraq. That task falls to the anti-war movement.

The international peace conference being held in London in December will bring together Iraqis and Americans. Delegations need to pour to it from peace, student, religious, trade union and other organisations.

Economic migrants

Rich countries rob poor of skilled workers

Next time there is a fuss about immigration ponder this — rather than training doctors and teachers, Britain loots them from poor countries. Britain, Canada, Australia and the US have been found to be targeting economic migrants.

They are benefiting from the education provided by developing countries. The loss of nurses, teachers and other skilled workers impacts on those economies.

A study carried out for the World Bank found that anything from a quarter to a half of the college educated citizens of countries like Ghana, Mozambique, Kenya, Uganda and El Salvador lived in North America and Europe. That rises to over 80 percent for Haiti and Jamaica.

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What We Think
Sat 29 Oct 2005, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1974
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