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Letters—Arresting smugglers won’t save lives—open borders will

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Arrest of "people smugglers" will force refugees onto more treacherous routes
Issue 2813
a group of people pictured on a stand up to racism march holding a Care 4 Calais banner which reads refugees welcome

Care4Calais activists at the March Against Racism in central London (Picture: Alisdare Hickson)

European police forces and racist politicians are crowing over the arrest of 40 alleged “people smugglers” after raids in five countries. 

The British police say proudly that they have smashed a major operation. Tory home secretary, Priti Patel said, “We’ll stop at nothing to end your trade, bring you to justice and save lives.”

But this is a racist fantasy. Arresting people who provide dinghies for refugees to cross the Channel does nothing to solve the problem. In fact, the arrests will only increase the cost of getting across, boosting the profits of the remaining smugglers. 

The business model for people smugglers relies on the hostile environment which targets refugees and enforces harsh and deadly border controls. 

Already journeys across the Channel are getting more dangerous as refugees move along the French and Belgian coasts, away from the easiest and shortest routes. There are no Ukrainian refugees resorting to dinghies to cross the Channel because they have safe routes to enter the country, usually free on railways and ferries.

If the government was serious about wiping out the people smugglers they would allow safe passage for all refugees—but their agenda is not about safety and saving lives.

The number of refugees crossing the Channel is tiny compared to refugees from Ukraine and Hong Kong—it is not about the numbers either. Patel and the Tories are only interested in playing the race card to scapegoat refugees. 

Socialists, anti-racists and climate activists must continue to provide aid for the thousands of refugees stranded in northern France. They must also continue to push for safe passages for all refugees. 

And in Hastings, south England, we will continue to welcome them when they arrive in dinghies or are rescued by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution vessels. 

Refugees are welcome here—the sooner Patel and her racist cronies follow Boris Johnson’s lead and leave office, the better.

Simon Hester


Celebrate past and fight for future

You could be forgiven for thinking that the annual Durham Miners’ Gala is a small event that was relevant some decades ago, but has now had its day. The Gala has run since 1871, only being stopped 16 times largely because of industrial action and the world wars. 

At its height the gala pulled 300,000 people. Today it doesn’t quite pull that many people. But this year’s Gala attracted some 200,000 people.

It’s one of the largest workers’ festivals in Europe. This makes the Gala as important now as ever. It shows the strength of the left and how trade unions can push back against the Tories

This year RMT union leader Mick Lynch, Unite union leader Sharon Graham and Unison union leader Christine McAnea addressed the crowd. Two key workers picked by the Durham Miners Association also spoke.

The Gala tradition lies at the heart of British trade unionism, especially for those whose families are connected to mining. For this reason it’s important for the left to show an alternative to the rotten capitalist system. 

Capitalist society has thrown up multiple crises and the Gala is a place to discuss and organise as well as celebrate struggles of the past. 

Nathan Johnston


Trickle down funding fails women’s football 

The first match of the Women’s Euros between England and Austria, sold 74,000 tickets last week. This is a step forward for the women’s game, but large-scale inequality is still prevalent. 

From the grassroots to the top division, women’s football is underfunded and undervalued. Young girls are turned away from the sport which is branded as a man’s game. 

France won £29 million for winning the 2018 Fifa World Cup, The United States women’s team won just £3 million for winning in 2019.

Many of the Euros games will take place in small stadiums with a capacity of less than 12,000. Many games have sold out but the enthusiasm isn’t matched by the fat cats. 

A change is needed for women’s football, but “trickle down” approaches don’t benefit the grassroots.

Heidi Henders

East London

National Insurance changes are too little

National Insurance thresholds have changed, meaning some people will save some money during the cost of living crisis. As many people are forced into food banks, debt and extreme poverty economic reforms like this are desperately needed.

The issue is that this miniscule change does not go far enough. With the Retail Price Index measure of inflation at 11.7 percent, many are still much worse off than what they were this time last year.

Also millions of struggling people will miss out on this extra cash. The lowest earners—mostly those on part time wages, in internships or apprenticeships—won’t benefit as they earn less than £9,500.

Those who are unemployed and anyone earning above £31,000 also won’t benefit.

With Boris Johnson packing his suitcases we should demand economic measures that benefit every person. This “boost” is insulting—especially as energy bills are set to further rise in October and National Insurance contributions rose in April.

We need a general election, not another dangerous Tory. Whoever is elected should do it on an agenda of fixing the cost of living crisis.

Sara Ford

North Wales

Tory agenda feeds fascism

Nazi National Action founder Alex Davies has told the court that convicted him that he aimed for an all-white Britain. He wanted black people deported “along the lines of the Conservative government’s Rwanda policy”.  

This chilling comment underscores how the Tories’ ramping up official racism feeds straight into helping Britain’s fascists.

Mike Killian

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Unions instead of Labour?

Join and build a union that will fight for working people. The Tory Labour Party under Keir Starmer hates the trade union movement and the working class. We need something new.

George Baker

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Why has Nato grown?

Isn’t Ukraine fighting Russian imperialism? Nato has only expanded because of fear of Russian aggression, the latest recruits being Sweden and Finland. 

Does Socialist Worker expect Ukrainians to jack it in, allow the Russians to take over and then join a mass uprising of workers from within the Russian empire? Might have to wait half a century for that.

John Benest

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  • The West expanding Nato and its wars will produce many more refugees. We must kill the source of the problem. Nato’s growth will fuel Russia’s aggression. Nato is the strong arm of the capitalist empire.


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General election now

Can anyone seriously expect any of the current and former government ministers to be capable of forming a government with honesty, principles and integrity? 

We must demand a general election at the earliest possible time. 

Martin Colin Smith

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