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Letters — a family disunited because of Tory hatred of refugees

Issue 2798
Crowd of Ukrainian refugees entering Poland

Refugees fleeing Ukraine are being turned away at Britain’s borders (Picture: Wikicommons/ Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine)

There is a little cafe near where I live in Leeds which is run by a couple—a woman from Ukraine and a man from Italy. At the beginning of March the woman’s sister managed to escape the war and get out of Ukraine. Her partner drove all the way from south Leeds to Plock, in Poland, to pick up his sister in law and his young nephew. He had intended to bring them back to Britain. 

On the return journey they got as far as the French side of the Channel but immigration control there refused to allow them to cross. They said this was because the child does not have a passport. The family were not even allowed to speak to UK Border Control officials to explain the situation.

So they had no alternative to drive thousands more miles across France to Italy so that the mother and child could be cared for by other members of the family. This cruelty has shocked our local community many of whom followed their journey—of around 4,000 miles—over four days via Facebook. Councillors and MPs were contacted to see if they could help. But so far the sister and her child are still not allowed to join their family in Britain.

A Palestinian refugee friend asked me if, as a result of the war, people in Britain now understand something of what it is like to be refugee. I said, “I hope so”. I talked about the overwhelming support for Ukrainian refugees, and the thousands of people registering to host families in their homes.

That sympathy comes despite the BBC insisting on calling all those trying to cross the Channel in dinghies as “migrants” rather than the refugees seeking sanctuary that they are. We socialists should use the wave of public sympathy to argue that all refugees are welcome here. And we should always point out the hypocrisy of our Tory government.

Sally Kincaid


Anti-racism does need organising

Former Black Panther Party leader Elaine Brown is right to say that little organisation came from the Black Lives Matter movement (Socialist Worker, 23 March). But that doesn’t mean that nothing came out of the movement. In fact, we see the ideological impact of Black Lives Matter rolling out all the time.

People’s understanding of the racist nature of the state is far greater now than before 2020’s protests. That can be seen in the wave of anger at police harassment and strip-searching of Child Q in east London last week. The protests outside the police station and the town hall easily embraced the idea of abolishing the Metropolitan Police. Once that demand would have been seen as “too radical”. 

Around the same time, students at nearby City and Islington college staged an inspiring walkout over a newly introduced stop and search policy in their college. Students immediately sensed it would be used in a racist way and had the confidence to take action.

These examples show that Black Lives Matter both radicalised people and produced a whole new layer of young activists. The task now is to try and win new forces to the idea of building something radical and more permanent. And in that battle we can draw inspiration from Elaine Brown and the Black Panthers.

Nadia Sayed

East London

We need working class sanctions against P&O 

Listening to the disgusting Tory hypocrisy on the sacked P&O workers is enough to make me sick. I was a seafarer for 25 years and can assure readers that when workers take action they can win. But it’s no use the union running to the courts when they are fighting one of the world’s most powerful corporations.

Instead, we have to hit them where it hurts—in the profits. We need working class sanctions on P&O. A ship filled with cargo and cars is a massive store of wealth that we have to take control of. That means picketing the big docks with hundreds of seafarers, and seeking to stop the work.

I’ve heard the leaders of the RMT union talking big, but you are what you do. In order to stop sacked workers from taking the P&O redundancy settlement, the RMT has to show it is serious about the fight. 

John Tipple


Vietnam lessons to stop war in Ukraine

Millions of people want to see a quick end to the war in Ukraine. One reason for supporting Western interventions, such as no-fly zones, is that many people cannot see an alternative. Socialists have to point out that there is no quick answer that does not risk escalation, and a possible nuclear conflict.

We must also point to concrete examples from history when mass movements stopped imperialist war. We should remember the Vietnam War, which ended when multiple revolts made it impossible for the US to continue the fight. 

The most important of these was by the Vietnamese people that inflicted casualties on the US on a scale that brought the war home to America. The second revolt was in the US itself where growing numbers of anti-war activists protested against the war.

And the revolt of the US troops themselves, who increasingly refused to fight, made up the last piece of the jigsaw puzzle of resistance. That’s how the anti-war movement eventually stopped the Vietnam War. 

Martin Empson


Wrong to stop and search

The stop and search policy at City and Islington college sounds heavy handed (Socialist Worker, 23 March). What is the point of a search which only applies to some?  

Patting down? Have these security checkers been vetted? And even if they have, the revelations about the Met police show great caution is needed. The students are right to object.


On Facebook

Not so radical, I’m afraid

Countess Constance Markievicz (Socialist Worker, 23 March) turned out to be a liberal and went squealing to the government to smash the Waterford soviet. People might be suffragettes but which side are they on—liberal or socialist?


On Facebook

We’ve all got our oligarchs 

The mainstream press is filled with talk of Russian “oligarchs”. Why do none of them want to talk about British oligarchs too? Ours made their money by ripping off the workers, just the same as those from the former Soviet Union. So let’s call all our bosses by their real name—oligarch scum.

Name withheld

By email

Don’t want to go to Chelsea

I’ve disliked Chelsea football club since the days of the 1980s when its Tory-Boy chairman proposed putting fans behind an electric fence to stop pitch invasions. And I disliked them more after their “legendary” team captain, John Terry, racially abused QPR’s Anton Ferdinand.

But even I don’t want to see the club effectively wound-up by the government as a result of sanctions on Russia. The real task is to liberate all clubs from their not “fit and proper” owners.

C Hatton

West London

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